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Conservation Research Institute


The University Museum of Zoology are set to launch their new summer exhibition, featuring artworks from three artists plus an original giant extinct elephant bird egg belonging to Sir David Attenborough. The summer exhibition – entitled Breaking Point – explores the fragile nature of the world through a series of artworks made from a material that is also fragile: ceramics.

Three artists, Elspeth Owen, Jayne Ivimey and Mella Shaw will be exhibiting their work, all inspired by the natural world, among the Museum’s skeletons, preserved animals and taxidermy specimens. All three artists have a strong interest in the environmental movement and create ceramics that seek to engage, provoke and stimulate discussion about our relationship with nature and our impacts on it.

Jack Ashby, the Museum’s Assistant Director and one of the exhibition’s curators said, “Our natural history collections tell the story of hundreds of years of environmental change, and the artworks in our Breaking Point exhibition do the same thing in a different way, using a naturally fragile material. Putting this exhibition together with these three incredible, thoughtful artists, and our colleagues in the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, has allowed us to use the fragility of fired clay to explore ecological decline, ecosystem collapse and environmental change and uncertainty – some of the biggest challenges the world is facing right now. Placing the sculptures in and amongst our own animal specimens really heightens this point.”

The exhibition was supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and was created in partnership with the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI) and their Arts, Science and Conservation Programme (ASCP).

CCI’s John Fanshawe, who co-curated the exhibition, said, ‘‘Working closely with our friends at the Museum of Zoology always provides an opportunity to innovate and discover new ways of exploring links between nature, conservations and the arts. Encountering work made by contemporary artists in and around the museum displays throws a different light on the collections, and on the artworks, and creates new ways of seeing both. Conservation scientists and artists share a deep concern for nature, and clay, as a malleable natural material that fires to hard form provides a perfect medium through which to reflect on form and function, on breakage, recycling, and loss, as our contributing ceramicists have demonstrated so wonderfully.”

You can find out more about the artists and the exhibition on the ASCP page here

From 20th July 2021 the University Museum of Zoology will be open Tuesday – Sunday (assuming that government restrictions allow). No pre-booking or ticket will be required. Please see our website for up-to-date opening hours.
Until the 20th July 2021 we are open three days per week - Thursday / Friday / Saturday. Entry is free via a timed ticketed system.

Sunday, 3 October, 2021 - 11:00