Interconnected Earth by James Clegg

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Title of talk:

Celine Condorelli
Celine Condorelli

Interconnected Earth


Bullet points of what you would like to talk about:

This workshop will include a tailored tour of Céline Condorelli’s exhibition After Work and provide a chance to explore the natural world with scientists through a close up look at specimens from biology.


The tour of After Work will be led by curator and friend of the Ragged University James Clegg and will include:

  • A brief introduction to the main themes of Céline Condorelli’s practice including: cultural production, the politics of display and hidden labour.
  • A discussion about aspects of what in art and design history is termed ‘modernism’ and how that effects our relationship to the natural world.
  • A focus on a new octopus-inspired installation called ‘thinking through skin’ and how it might help us to reconsider human and animal relationships.


To ponder further on the interconnected nature of life on Earth, this will be followed by the opportunity to use microscopes to look up close at interesting and beautiful specimens from School of Biological Sciences at University of Edinburgh, to see detail that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Specimens will include things the school’s Biologists work on, such as parasites, beetles and plants. There will also be a range of other specimens from the everyday housefly (not so ordinary when viewed up close) to butterflies and lichen. Science Communicators, Janet Paterson and Maria Fanourgiaki, will be joined by enthusiastic Biologists who are looking forward to chatting with you.


A few paragraphs on your subject:

Céline Condorelli originally trained as an architect, and draws influences from across art, design and architecture to make interventions into cultural spaces and institutional practice. Focusing on the things that support our encounters with culture she turns our attention to gallery seating, plants, frames and colours, but also to the people who build things, friendships and influences.


And this shift in attention from ‘masterworks’ to the complex, collaborative work that people do to enable art to happen has a political dimension, as it aims to show the hidden labour that goes on behind the scenes. It is also important in shifting us away from representation – where something uses visual language and symbols to depict something elsewhere – to presence, to the fact of objects in our space and the effect they have upon us.


With Thinking Through Skin Condorelli uses the natural world to extend the themes of her work into the future. When it comes to colours, the modern world is built on representation – where CMYK and RGB are combined as substitutes for other colours. But, in the natural world, colours reflect the direct consequences of chemical changes and embodied actions, octopuses for example being able to show emotions through their skins, as well as camouflaging and changing shape.


From fossils and the first synthetic colour experiments, to other artworks that ask us to imagine trying to live separated from Earth, Condorelli’s encyclopaedic display is asking us to try to overcome separations between people and animals, designs and realities, futures and pasts.


When we look at creatures carefully we can see that they are readily adapted to a world that is interconnected, living and present. Biologists are involved in this workshop because the exhibition has lots of ties to the biological world. By using microscopes to look up close at samples from nature and biology (from beetles to house flies) we’ll highlight the importance and wonder of biodiversity on Earth and the delicate balance of ecosystems.


By looking at different parasites up close (e.g. ticks, tapeworms, nits), parasite vectors (e.g. mosquitoes) and chatting to parasitologists, we’ll see how humans and other organisms live together. And, by looking up close at plant material and chatting to plant scientists, we’ll touch on themes of climate change, food sustainability and what scientists are doing now to tackle these challenges.


A few paragraphs about you:

James Clegg:

I’ve been working for Talbot Rice Gallery for 12 years. I love my job because it changes with each exhibition that we present and I’m always learning new things. As an advocate of contemporary art I really believe that it can help us to learn about the world in lots of different and profound ways. Informed by lots of research, it also steps outside ‘book learning’ and even our everyday languages to provoke us through experiences and encounters.

On a personal note, I’ve really missed working with the Ragged University and can’t wait to catch up with folk. We started collaborating with Alex in 2016 and have had lots of great events together. This event should be no different, and I’m really excited.


Janet Paterson:

I’m Public Engagement Manager at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. After previously working as a research scientist, my job now involves supporting our researchers to engage people with their work, with an eye on breaking down barriers between the University and our local communities. I’ve worked a lot with communities and schools in socioeconomically-deprived areas of the city, which is something I feel strongly about, having grown up in such a community myself. Maria and I work together, and we’re looking forward to bringing along our microscopes and our enthusiastic Biologists!


Maria Fanourgiaki:

I’m Public Engagement Officer at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. I have a background is biology and environmental education, but also drama and physical theatre. I love all things science and I’m really looking forward to these workshops because I enjoy engaging people with current research in creative ways, such as combining science and art. I have a keen interest in community engagement and in engaging with hard-to-reach audiences.


What free internet knowledge resources would you recommend?

The artist’s website is a good place to read more about her broader practice:


And this 8-minute video of her speaking at Nottingham Contemporary gives a sense of the new work that we will be looking at:


YouTube player

Céline Condorelli: Colour & Cephalopods


For those wanting to go deeper into an analysis of the gallery space and how it operates you can get a full PDF of Brian O’Doherty’s classic 1986 book Inside the White Cube here:


Click to download copy
Click to download copy


Click to download



What are your weblinks?

Website –

Blog –

Twitter – @talbotrice75

Facebook – Talbot Rice Gallery

Public Email – [email protected]

Any others….Instagram – @talbotricegallery


This event happened at Talbot Rice Gallery (University of Edinburgh, The University of, South Bridge, Edinburgh EH8 9YL, United Kingdom), on 26th September 2022 from 11.30 to 13:30am.