The Sea is Changed. Short essay on artist, Rosa Nguyen, 2020.

Accompanying text for ‘Whale Watching’, by artist Olga Koroleva, 2020.

‘Living Symphonies’ – Published in The Learned Pig, 2020.

Image taken from Living Symphonies’ website.

Catalogue essay, MEIKAP, MOCA London, 2019.

For the Love of Coral – Insights into the Archive, Aquarium, and a Collaborative Film.

For the Love of Coral – Insights into the Archive, Aquarium, and a Collaborative Film.

In 2014, the Horniman Museum’s collection of cyanotypes created in 1853 by Victorian botanist Anna Atkins came to have a contemporarily reassessed value as the most complete folio of Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions in the world. Meanwhile, however, the Horniman Museum Aquarium’s, Project Coral, a ground-breaking programme led by scientist & aquarium curator, Jamie Craggs, made conservational history in understanding the precise conditions needed to artificially induce corals to spawn within the captive environment. Between 2017 and 2018, I undertook a collaborative research & development project with the artist & filmmaker, Sonia Levy, which originated from our shared interest in these two very different kinds of museological ‘displays’ cared for by the Horniman Museum in London’s Forest Hill.

It was several long months since our first visit to the aquarium, but in the days following the November full moon, we finally witnessed a scene that many would consider a rare privilege to behold; a coral spawning event. This one did not take place in the ocean. Instead, it happened in the basement of the Horniman Museum, within lab tanks painstakingly set up to recreate the exact environmental conditions of the Great Barrier Reef. The variables of these conditions included not only seasonal temperature changes, but would reflect the delicate interplay between darkness and light, day length and lunar cycle, to simulate the effect of moonlight and provide the final trigger for spawning. Where Jamie Craggs and his team’s work has been to assist the reproduction of corals and to help them to have the best chance of developing, Craggs has hoped that this “ex-situ breeding of corals” and “human assisted evolution” will “create stronger offspring that are more resistant to the impacts of climate change”.
With an emphasis upon custodianship and labour under the auspices of the museum’s team of marine biologists and aquarists, led by Craggs, we focused on the extraordinary efforts to care for these almost extinct beings. Sonia developed our findings into her film, For The Love of Corals, and we delivered our findings at Aarhus University’s Remaking the Museum: Curation, Conservation, and Care in Times of Ecological Upheaval, a conference hosted at Moesgaard Museum in Denmark at the end of 2017.

Bloom | Edward Chell | Horniman Museum

In 2015, I was invited to co-author ‘Bloom’, with the artist, Edward Chell, and ecologist, Hugh Warwick. Commissioned by the University for the Creative Arts, Kent, and the Horniman Museum, London, and published alongside the exhibition of the same name, I was extremely honoured to be one of the very first to write about an hitherto undiscovered and incredibly rare volume of Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions whilst researching its 19th century author and early pioneer of photography, Anna Atkins. During this research, and with the generosity of academics such as Dr. Emily Winterburn (University of Leeds), Prof Miklos Peternak (Hungarian University of the Fine Arts), and Prof Larry Schaaf (University of Oxford), I encountered many moments at which the histories of science and botany intersect with the development of publishing and photography.

Selected critical writing online.

The Political Animal (organised by Olga Koroleva) at The Showroom, London.

Cited in: Empreintes Solaires: Les Cyanotypes d’Anna Atkins. Sonia Levy, Billebaude, No.12.

Unless otherwise stated, images & text © 2020 Anna Ricciardi. All rights reserved.