Franziska Schenk, artist in residence at the Schools of Bioscience and Physics at the University of Birmingham, is attempting to overcome this incompatibility by studying the ingenious ways in which a wide range of iridescent effects are created in the animal world. As iridescent ‘pigments’ mirror Nature’s design, biomimetics can offer vital clues on how to convert these novel materials to the painter’s palette. The current research builds on related projects, namely an Arts Council funded residency and show at the National Marine Aquarium at Plymouth (2004-5), and a recent AHRC-funded art and science project. The latter involved a residency at the Natural History Museum in London and collaboration with Professor Andrew Parker, the Museum’s leading expert on iridescence in the natural world.
Expanding on work inspired by the coelacanth, chameleon and cuttlefish, Franziska has now turned her attention to butterflies. Captivated by their ephemeral beauty, fragility and capacity for continuous change, she is developing paintings that oscillate in colour, depending on the light and movement of the viewer. Having worked on adapting colour-shift technology from its inception (circa 2000), gradual emergence and now rapid expansion, the new series marks a further stage in her quest to arrive at ‘chameleonesque’ paintings.
Franziska Schenk (BA Art Ed, BA Hons and MA Fine Art) is an artist and lecturer in Fine Art at Birmingham City University. Exhibitions with particular relevance to Interact include: ‘Vibrant 2’ (2006) which formed part of the ‘Colour and Chemistry’ project initiated by Sherborne House, ‘Mantle of Many Colours’ at the National Marine Aquarium Plymouth (2004-5) and ‘Times of Our Lives: Beginnings’ at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester (2000). Other work has been included in group shows across England and in Germany. Awards in support of this research have been received from the Arts Council of England, AHRC and BCU.