Artist in residence

Artist in residence

Martha Fleming

Read about the artwork

Spheres © Martha Fleming

Mammals © Martha Fleming

Gold dust © Martha Fleming

Pastels © Martha Fleming

Spectra © Martha Fleming

Library © Martha Fleming

  • Mammals - Martha Fleming
  • Gold dust - Martha Fleming
  • Pastels - Martha Fleming
  • Spectra - Martha Fleming
  • Library - Martha Fleming

Martha Fleming - Artist in residence

  • Atomism & Animism
  • October 1997 - October 1999

After a two-year residency exploring the Science Museum's object collections, Martha Fleming created Atomism & Animism, a series of 16 installations in display cases across the Museum's galleries with the heart of the exhibition located in a dedicated art gallery. The artist proposed a philosophy of science that started with a contemplation of its actual objects, and which was in turn expressed in the deployment she made of those very objects.

The title, Atomism & Animism, was drawn from two very old, persistent cultural beliefs. Atomism is the theory that there is a smallest particle of matter which is indivisible and remains unchanging and unchanged regardless of the field any group of atoms might compose together. Animism is the belief that objects - the matter atoms make - all have a spirit or force of some kind. In the exhibition Fleming sought to discover how these two ideas relate and what they teach us about human patterns of thinking.

'The most important similarity between artistic and scientific practice is the training of the eyes to look closely at what is around us. We develop the ability to make visual connections between things, which in turn produces new meanings and understandings. Seeing degrees of similarity also means seeing grades of difference - in shape, in material, in use, in meaning. This is the beginning of interpretation.' Martha Fleming

About the artist

Canadian-born artist Martha Fleming (born 1958) has been working as an artist, curator, writer and academic in the nexus between science, humanities and the arts since the mid 1980s. Atomism & Animism was preceded, in 1996, by a pilot project called Open Book which Fleming effected as a collaboration between the Science Museum and the Dulwich Picture Gallery.

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