International Reviews

International Reviews

Imprinting Nature: Simryn Gill’s Naga Doodles

In the display case next to the skin is a nature-printed image made in Madras in 1857 by Henry Smith. Unlike Gill’s snakes, Smith’s specimen was artfully laid out in an elegant sinuosity, its two surfaces inked to yield a mirror-image pair when passed through a printing press. There is a history behind the contemporary work. Smith was a government printer, who claimed originality to his method of nature-printing (a process that has always been somewhat experimental), but one that was taken up by Hugh Cleghorn who in South India made many simple black prints of plant and tree parts as part of the earliest phase of the conversion of tropical forests into plantations: in his case for coffee and cinchona.

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