Babylon Gallery, Ely
Coded Ornithology was the second body of work resulting from my residency at the Natural History Museum, London and Tring. It focused on the way individual specimens are labelled in the Museum’s extensive ornithology collection. A unique coding system is used by the Bird Group to quickly identify different categories of specimens; different species, subspecies, geographical locations, months of the year, sex, etc. Coloured and numbered dots, known as spot numbers, are attached to individual specimen labels.
There are 300 individual spots in six colours: yellow, red, blue, orange, pink and green, each colour having spots numbered 1 to 50. There is no generic system for the use of these spots, whereby each one represents the same category throughout the collection. It is up to individual curators to choose which spots will be applied to certain specimen categories. I have always been intrigued by coding systems, particularly when seemingly ordered and rigid procedures are implemented in a personalised manner.