Robyn Stacey’s staged tableau recalls the tradition of Dutch nature morte paintings, in which still-life objects provide a moral lesson on the vanity of world. The work depicts geological and botanical samples, antique scientific equipment, and taxidermy specimens from the Macleay Collections at the University of Sydney. The symbolic arrangement of natural specimens alongside tools of scientific and geological exploration are reminders of the ephemerality of beauty and the certainty of death. Displaced from their origins, these objects point to the ways in which scientific advancement and imperialism were bound together in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Robyn Stacey