Many visitors of the Manchester Museum’s Entomology department get their inspiration from the diversity of shapes, colours or patterns of the thousands of insects deposited here. Yet, even old store-boxes are not totally neglected and used time to time by some creative artists. For instance, Jade Ashton, a 3D Design student, visited the Entomology department in February 2011 and obtained two old and unwanted store-boxes of the stock retained here which then have been used for the creating of an amazing little display entitled as ‘Mary, Mary Quite Contrary’ (see photos).
During the research of Mary Greg and her collection, a line from one of her letters particularly caught Jade’s interest; addressed to Mr. Batho, Mary’s letter expressed her concern over the possible damage to a collection of dresses: “I want to get them sent off but not to lie in boxes in some lumber room where the moths may destroy them” (1924).
Jade’s intention for this project was to create a visual story: to bring alive the imagery within that quote, and to make a connection with the children’s novel, The Secret Garden – the story of Mary Lennox, another “contrary Mary”. Jade particularly wished to reflect the storage and display methods used within the Manchester Art Gallery and the Manchester Museum. Moreover, almost all materials used have been collected by herself; unwanted and unloved items destined to be thrown away have now been given a new lease of life, and add a sense of antiquity and nostalgia to the final display.
I am very grateful to Jade for the permission to use her statement and images of the display ‘Mary, Mary Quite Contrary’ in our blog (Dmitri).