The Nature of the Beast
Mat Collishaw, Mark Fairnington, Tessa Farmer, Polly Morgan, Olly & Suzi, Patricia Piccinini

Mark Fairnington
'The Nature of the Beast' exhibition. Photo: Jonathan Shaw

This exhibition brings together a diverse range of contemporary artists, who through their work, confront and challenge our attitudes towards the natural world, and in particular, the animal kingdom.



Humankind has long been fascinated by animals, who in turn, have been subjected to research, collection, categorisation, documentation, display and experimentation.  Each of the artists within the exhibition creates works which involve an intensive scrutiny of animals and nature as well as a critical engagement with the ways in which we have attempted to understand and control the natural world. Both Tessa Farmer and Polly Morgan will be creating brand new works for the exhibition.


In Conversation

Saturday 22 June, 2pm

Join Giovanni Aloi in conversation with Mark Fairnington, Tessa Farmer and Polly Morgan.

Book your free place in advance by calling 01922 654400 or at the reception desk in the gallery foyer.



Artist interviews & installation films:


Installation of ‘The Nature of the Beast’ exhibition, Spring 2013

















Artist interviews with Mark Fairnington & Tessa Farmer, Spring 2013

















Our Creatures

Curated by Mark Fairnington

26 April – 30 June 2013

Floor 3


As part of this project, artist Mark Fairnington has curated an historic exhibition which focuses on portraits of animals. Images and objects are brought together that depict in particular the domestic and local relationships between people and animals and show how these could be pragmatic, eccentric, brutal and loving. Mark Fairnington and The New Art Gallery Walsall would like to thank all the lenders to Our Creatures for their support.  They are Birmingham Museums Trust, Compton Verney, Horniman Museums and Gardens, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, Leeds Museums and Galleries (Leeds Art Gallery) and Manchester City Galleries.


QR codes

QR codes (quick response codes) are used within the exhibition Our Creatures to direct visitors to additional information about the objects and their histories. The websites have been selected by curator Mark Fairnington. Please see below for the web addresses these QR codes are linked to:


Edward Hart

Great Bustard, Otis tarda

Taxidermy case of adult female Great Bustard in winter plumage mounted by Edward Hart. Specimen shot by Mr W. Hibberd at Hanley, Dorset, 10th January 1880.

To view more of Hart’s dioramas, follow this link:


Thomas Bewick

Tale-pieces, 2007

wood engravings on paper

To view to further pieces by Bewick, follow this link:

Petra Ferinacova

Creator, 2008

Two framed photographs

To view to more work from this series, follow this link:


Ford Madox Brown

Studies of a Dog (bull terrier pup), 1855

pencil on paper

To view to view the painting Work (1852-65) in the collection of Manchester City Galleries, follow this link: