Science in stitches: Darwin's Leftovers | University of Oxford
OSB archive
OSB archive

Science in stitches: Darwin's Leftovers

Pete Wilton

Once he'd finished On the Origin of Species what did Darwin do with his vast collection of stuffed reptiles, mammals, fish and birds?

Have an office clear-out: or at least that's the amusing idea behind Darwin's Leftovers, a collection of stitched artworks created by over 60 knitters that's on display at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History [OUMNH] until 27 November. 

According to lead artist Liz Lancashire each element of the display celebrates a key part of Darwin's life and thinking: from the Galapagos iguanas and tortoises that showed how natural selection could cause new species to evolve to exploit new environments, to hummingbirds with their odd-shaped beaks giving an ultimate example of specialisation in nature.

She said: 'Charles Darwin had many hundreds of stuffed animals in his cupboard and I wanted to recreate some of the paraphernalia of his scientific collection and capture the day he had an office clear-out!'

All this month Liz will be helping the Museum run a series of workshops for both adults and children exploring the wide variety of 3D knitting and other textiles techniques used to create these curiosities.

It sounds like the perfect skill to learn in the run-up to Christmas: so if you see an iguana-shaped present nestling under your Christmas tree then you'll know you've got Mr Darwin to thank for it.

Darwin's Leftovers is on display in the main gallery of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History until 27 November