Jo Crook is an artist and curator based in Totnes, Devon, UK
Revealed: the variety and beauty of marine algae and other flora
Anyone who has walked on a beach or swum in the sea has seen seaweed: usually as a dark mass, tangled, of indeterminate shape, usually part of the background rather than as compelling individual objects.
The selection of seaweed pressings in this exhibition shows much more: a seemingly endless variety of shape, size, form, texture and colour. Individual specimens are carefully arranged and pressed on to fine art watercolour paper to fix their variety and beauty for viewing. The finished artworks have some of the visual appearance of formal biological reference material, but their purpose is entirely artistic: they represent an attempt to impose formality – a classical coolness – upon natural beauty. Smaller seaweeds are set out in groups which complement each other in colour and shape.
The marine specimens were found washed up on local beaches, at the end of their lives, and about to decay, but used instead for these artworks, so there is no loss to biodiversity, only as nutrition for marine saprophytes.
The light and dark prints are made by digitally scanning physical objects at high resolution, carrying out highly individual digital modifications, then printing them – again at high resolution – in light- and fade-resistant ink on photographic paper, a process known as giclée printing. The modifications are almost entirely to remove scanning artefacts and to improve clarity, not to misrepresent the objects; the art lies in selection and interpretation.
I attempt to impose formality – a classical coolness – upon natural beauty.
The seaweed specimens used to make the pressed artworks are collected from south Devon beaches where they have been washed up, having lost their attachment to the substrate, and are thus at the end of their biological lives. There is no loss to their environment, nor to biodiversity. Their beauty is retained and made visible in these works.
My studio practice in making pressed seaweed artworks is informed by my work with paper conservators and marine biologists.
⚬ seaweed pressings and related works
⚬ works shown at exhibitions and art fairs
⚬ collection conservation
⚬ displays and exhibitions
Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery
⚬ natural history collection cataloguing
Dartington Hall Trust
⚬ archive cataloguing
freelance museum consultant
⚬ collection conservation information systems
Tate / Tate Gallery
⚬ Conservation Curator
⚬ co-author: The Impact of Modern Paints, Tate Gallery Publishing
History of Art and English, BA Honours
old website, no longer maintained: artistsite.jocrook.co.uk