This exhibition of works entitled Flora by Mark Fairnington employed “the language of natural history to frame [his] pictorial fictions” of which the result is, exquisitely executed hybrid images of birds, flowers and insects. These mysterious, almost mythical beasts exist alongside studies of real animals and natural history specimens, but in common they share a painstaking attention to detail and co-exist in a frequently luxurious habitat accentuated by the use of rich paint materials such as gold and palladium leaf.
Mark’s interest in natural history has led to his involvement in a number of important research projects including Heavier than Air at the Imperial War Museum (1997-98) This series was included in the exhibition War and Medicine at the Wellcome Collection, London. From 2003 to 2005 Fabulous Beasts, Birds We Cannot See and Darwin's Canopy were research projects at the Natural History Museum. Fabulous Beasts culminated in a major exhibition at the Museum in 2004 funded by the NHM, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, London Arts and the AHRB. With 250,000 visitors over its duration, and national press coverage, it became an important example of the value of art/science collaborative research to the Natural History Museum, securing a funding stream that had previously been threatened.