A successful application to the Heritage Lottery Fund has led the Falmouth Art Gallery to receive an award of £50,000 to undertake a year long project to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin (1809-1882).
The vast majority of the money will be spent in Cornwall and will be for additional activities to those funded by Falmouth town council.
The most important journey of the nineteenth century – perhaps the most important journey ever – was undertaken by Charles Darwin on The Beagle between 1831 and 1836, says gallery director Brian Stewart.
“Little known is the fact that Darwin sent specimens throughout his voyage back to this country via Falmouth and the packet ships. The Beagle finally returned to Falmouth on the October 2, 1836, and so the town is central to the Darwin story and the publication of The Origin of Species, both of which are celebrated worldwide.”
The project will be mounted in partnership with Newquay Zoo, Penlee House Gallery & Museum and University College Falmouth. The partnership will host a season of exhibitions, events and community activities as part of the Darwin 200 celebrations.
The gallery is dedicating its 2009 exhibitions programme to the celebrations with four Darwin themed exhibitions. These will be Voyages of Discovery (14 Feb – 18 April), Species (25 April – 27 June), A Day at the Zoo (4 July – 5 September) and Expressions in Man and Animals (12 September – 7 November). John Dyer will be artist in residence for the Cornish Darwin 200 project working on a project at Newquay Zoo. Important Cornish artists including Susan Boafo, Vince Bevan, Robert Bradford, Kurt Jackson, Oxana Mazur, Paul Spooner, Carlos Zapata, and Keith Newstead will all exhibit work as part of the project. A special feature will be the showing of Underwater Cornwall photographs by award winning Mark Webster and the launch of his new book during the exhibition Voyages of Discovery.
An accompanying community education programme that will involve exciting animal and plant themed activities will also be held and Newquay Zoo will hold a series of events throughout 2009 including Darwin themed trails, exhibitions and family workshops. Falmouth artist John Dyer is to become the zoo’s artist in residence during the celebrations that will result in an exhibition of his animal inspired works. Penlee House Gallery & Museum will be celebrating Darwin’s birthday with an exhibition that looks at the flora and fauna of Cornwall through the eyes of artists, photographers, scientists and collectors. Wild Cornwall (21 March – 13 June 2009) will combine beautiful imagery with fascinating fact utilising pieces from the gallery’s own collection as well as loans from public and private collections.