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Unseen Exhibition: Rosie Armstrong’s ‘A Requiem for Insects’ at the COX Gallery

Last year, Rosie Armstrong was awarded the 2019 School of Art and Design COX EASS Prize for her work – A Requiem for Insects.

Rosie’s work was selected to be displayed in the Canberra COX Gallery beginning March 20th, 2020 – that was until the exhibition was shut down due to COVID-19.

But just because Rosie’s work can’t be visited in person, doesn’t mean that it is forgotten. Her meticulously cut bamboo plywood insects explore the concepts of disintegration and demise, something that can still be appreciated through our screens.

A Requiem for Insects

Insects are a keystone species, critical to the health and integrity of our ecosystem. They are also an essential element in the food chain supporting life on earth, yet we have very little concrete information about how their populations are being affected by climate change, habitat loss, drought and bushfire.

A Requiem for Insects demands that we consider the current observed decline in insect populations across Australia, drawing our attention to their literal disintegration. Visual disintegration defines the central narrative of Rosie’s work. The species represented in the exhibition are either on the threatened species list or observed to be declining in the local environment. Their visual disintegration suggests a potential complete erasure; a sense that our ongoing disinterest in insect populations could ultimately result in a complete absence.

Like many of us, Rosie is concerned about the human influence on the world around us and feels compelled to explore her concern about the extinction crisis. She aims to facilitate a better connection to scientific data by representing it visually.

I begin each insect study by cutting and engraving wood, then painting each piece, intentionally focusing my attention on each insect as it slowly disintegrates and disappears from existence. I’ve chosen to display my work as a collector’s box, each insect pinned in place. In a hundred years will these insects only exist in collections?

For the Love of Bees considers the emphasis that our society places on the European Honey Bee – Apis Mellifera. The work weighs the prominence of the European bee against the thousands of native bees that exist in Australia. – Rosie Armstrong

Rosie Armstrong is an emerging artist currently enrolled in a Bachelor of Visual Art (Honours) at ANU School of Art. She was awarded the Cox Prize for her work in the School of Art and Design Graduating Exhibition 2019.


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