Insect corpses, taxidermy, tree root and superglue are the primary components of London-based artist Tessa Farmer’s intricate sculptural installations. Known as an “enchanted entomologist” who considers her work to be a representation of both science and art, Farmer creates scenes of darkly gothic fairy skeletons made from insect remains she finds on the roads near her home.
But her fairies hardly resemble the Disney-friendly characters you might be used to you. Farmer's fantasy world is comprised of nightmarish beings striving for survival, savagely hunting large prey in acts of Darwinian violence. Although the delicately constructed bodies of the fairies stand at less than 1cm tall, they are infused with savage power and force as they brutally overpower animals more than ten times their size. In Farmer's "Nymphidia" show last year at Danielle Arnaud Contemporary Art in London, the miniscule humanoids were constructed into an epic battle set inside a hornet's nest. The fairies had seemingly taken over the nest, riding atop their soldier ants and fighting off the defending hornets.
Farmer's love of both science and art took her to the Natural History Museum in 2007, where she participated in a contemporary arts program meant to bridge communication between the two disciplines. There she studied the behavior of insects with a team of scientists and created an installation called Little Savages that was shown in the museum's central hall.
And her present pursuits in the fairy world are approached from this very scientific platform. Her warfaring creatures are meant to transcend the myth of fantasia by presenting scientific "evidence" of a more sinister and dark realm of fantasy. She presents the installations as if they were museum displays portraying the behavioral habits of an ancient species. And each scene that she creates provides the viewers as well as herself with more knowledge into this mysterious and evolving world.
You can see more of Tessa Farmer's work at an upcoming exhibit at Tatton Park Biennial in Cheshire, England. Her installation, entitled "Flights of Fancy," will be on exhibit from May 12th until September 30th, 2012.