Project 19 GOW
October 5th - 30th December 2013

Irene Brown

Memento mori

Memento mori is an assemblage of selected objects from my collection; models of human anatomy that normally line the shelves and cupboards of my studio. Ignoring the warnings that such objects of vanitas convey (the transient nature of all earthly goods) I never the less continue to add to my compendium of bizarre objects.

In each of the two windows of the Gallery of Wonder is a symbolic still life that attempts to remind passers by of their own mortality; ‘remember you will die’, they call out.  The Papier Mâché flesh and the plastic bone try to prompt an understanding of the impermanence of corporeal flesh to all who gaze upon them. An assemblage of thirty-one fake skulls and an hourglass declare that time is fleeting, and we need to seize the day - ‘Carpe diem!’

All this implied significance seems to go unnoticed however. Few viewers engage with the symbolism and review their own existence.  They, like me are drawn to the objects. The unexpected site of so many skulls fascinates, they laugh and become engrossed in debates as to whether they are real or not.  They take turns in being photographed in front of the windows, parents in particular encouraging their children to pose next to the skulls.

Perhaps this is significant, the fascination with something they consider so separate, so distant from?  They are revelling in the contrast between life and death.  Maybe this is how the symbolism works - remember you must die but not yet, not yet.

















Anatomical models in window