The work of Amy Dover focuses on our perspective of non-human animals in our ever-disappearing world. Drawing inspiration from her 2022 residency living in a remote Panamanian village with the Indigenous Kuna community, situated between the world’s most dangerous jungle and a tumultuous sea, Dover’s art confronts speciesist perspectives on non-human animals and the often macabre and cruel hand of humans. The name Saiba was given to Dover by the head of the tribal council, or Saila, and means mermaid.
Through intricate detailed drawings, sound installations, printmaking and written and visual preparatory notes from the jungle, Dover presents a body of work that seeks to raise important questions. Her fine art practice aims to re-wild humans by fostering a greater connection with nature and exploring whether art can aid in the conservation of non-human animals.
The exhibition challenges visitors to reframe non-human animals through visual art to disarm speciesism, creating empathy and love to evoke an emotional response to animals and creating a deeper connection for humans, with non-human animals often being constricted to their representation in human culture, captivity, the pages of a book, or lost to the world altogether.
On deeper inspection, Dover’s initially beautiful drawings often make the viewer feel uncomfortable, as they confront the harsh realities of the relationship between humans and the natural world. Visitors are often being watched back, as the artworks forces them to confront their own biases and assumptions about the animal kingdom.
This solo exhibition asks important questions, such as whether representations of non-human animals shape our perceptions, and what visual and cultural constructs are used to create speciesism and aspects of the ‘other’. By presenting new ways of drawing and printmaking of other animals, Dover hopes to inspire a drive to save species that may be lost forever.
Amy Dover was born in 1986 and lives in the North East of England. She is currently a practice-based PhD candidate in Fine Art with Art History and Environmental Sciences at the School of Arts and Culture, Newcastle University. She has a Masters (with Distinction) from Edinburgh College of Art. Working and exhibiting internationally, she has collaborated with a number of international animal charities. She works as a senior academic at MIMA School of Art and Design at Teesside University, Middlesbrough, as well as an educator for other organisations and institutions. In 2022, Dover participated in a residency programme in the remote Darien Jungle in Panama with the indigenous Kuna community. The residency presents a rare opportunity to research and develop new artistic and creative practices in a remote natural environment between jungle and sea, in collaboration with an autonomous, indigenous community at the gateway between South and Central America. Respect for community and nature remain at the heart of this place and culture despite increased connections to the globalised world.
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