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News and musings from the UCL Culture team


First day with the sponges

By ucwaemo, on 1 October 2014

Close up of Venus' flower basket glass sponge. LDUCZ-B39

Close up of Venus’ flower basket glass sponge. LDUCZ-B39

Today I begin an artist-in-residency position at the Grant Museum of Zoology, funded by The Leverhulme Trust. I’ll be working with the Museum’s collection of deep-sea sponges, focusing in particular on their calcareous and glass sponges. These extraordinary animals (not plants, as the Museum’s founder Robert Grant discovered back in the nineteenth century) are composed of calcium carbonate and silica – limestone and glass.

I will be spending the next ten months here studying the sponge collection with the aim of creating art from the same materials that the sponges use to build themselves. I will be making a series of lithographic prints, which are made by drawing on limestone blocks (interesting fact: lithographic stones are from the same quarry in Bavaria where the exquisitely preserved Archaeopteryx fossil was found – proof of the link between dinosaurs and birds) and glass sculptures.

I’ll be posting my progress here every few weeks, and will be doing a couple of live events over the residency. Main discovery so far: glass sponges are very difficult to draw – the closer you look, the more threads appear.

Glass sponge Lophocalyx phillippinensis

Glass sponge Lophocalyx phillippinensis LDUCZ-B57


Close-up of glass sponge  Lophocalyx phillippinensis LDUCZ-B57


Eleanor Morgan is Artist in Residence at the Grant Museum of Zoology

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