Playing With & For The Community
Sha Najak’s pieces with Manicured Nature. Have a read and better yet, visit Bukit Timah Dairy Farm.
MY TIME WAS TOO MUCH OCCUPIED WITH THOSE BRANCHES OF NATURAL HISTORY
Before Wallace’s Return to Britain
Branches, Images of Wallace, Spray Paint
by Sha Najak
‘As almost all the insects in this catalogue which inhabit the Malayan archipelago were collected by me, I have been requested to make a few observations on them. In doing so I would wish to state that, though I collected all orders of insects, my time was too much occupied with those branches of natural history in which I was more especially interested, to pay much attention to the habits or economy of the Hymenoptera. All, therefore, I can hope to do, is to give a few superficial observations on their habits and distribution, and on the nature of the localities in which they most abound. As the present is the first of a series of works on the eastern Insects collected by me, it may be well to say a few words on the different places in which I made my collections,’ Alfred Russell Wallace, British naturalist and explorer
In a letter Wallace wrote in 1854, he made an observation about time spent on branches of natural history. Appropriating this sentence, I made an installation to address the preservation of natural history through my own ‘preservation’ method. I spray painted these branches (of natural history) and suspended them in the air. In ‘preserving’ these branches (of natural history), I hope to ‘preserve’ nature’s own natural history by freezing and suspending everything in motion so that we can take a step back and look closely at what is going on beneath those layers and layers of natural history. In making this artwork, I grew fascinated with Wallace as an explorer and an adventurer who’s taken risks to pursue his ambitions. I started asking questions about how Wallace interacted with the local community and also the British. In trying to get into the shoes of an explorer, I’ve had a chance to explore Bukit Timah Dairy Farm. But I was not excited to look at types of plants, insects or the trees. However, I got the sense that being in an place away from my comfort zones, brings me to focus on the new space as a whole. Instead, I sensed the calm, freshness and natural colours of the dairy farm which I felt drawn to. My failed attempt to emulate Wallace didn’t bring me far however I realised about my own limited abilities at interacting with nature and how short my attention span can get. And how beautiful the space is but man (me) can grow tired of it enough to Manicure it from the original state into something else which brings me to realise that man (me) was doing something natural in the act of manicuring. I felt calmer having realised I can’t save the forests.
For more information on the exhibition please check out Manicured Nature – http://manicurednature.weebly.com/