Specimens from an Imaginary Voyage

Dam has taken inspiration for Specimens from an Imaginary Voyage from RAMM's collection of starfish and sea urchins in Sladen's Study. His 18 glass jars contain imaginary sea forms made from glass that trick the viewer to believe they were once alive.

This work has been specially commissioned by RAMM. It is the first bespoke commission by Dam in the world to be inspired by museum specimens as opposed to historic illustrations. It will be on display in Sladen's Study from November 2017 onward.

The purchase of this work was supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, the Art Fund, Friends of RAMM and Exeter City Council.

Steffen Dam is a Danish glass sculptor. An artist of international acclaim, he has works in museums and galleries all over the world. He has worked with glass for more than 30 years.

Dam’s early works take the form of flat panels. They are like the illustrations in the natural history books that his grandfather introduced him to as a child. His works seem to show two-dimensional natural forms captured between glass. But this is an illusion of reality. The blown-glass plants and creatures are not scientific replicas of anything found in nature. They come from Dam’s own biological universe.

Steffen Dam learned to cast glass, opening up many new possibilities. He created marine life jars where delicately coloured sea forms appear suspended in frozen animation within the confines of a glass cylinder. Once again seducing the viewer to believe in the reality of his pseudo-specimens.

The skills Dam acquired as an apprentice and practising tool maker are invaluable. On the one hand his work is exacting, meticulous, pre-planned and precise to a tenth of a milimetre. On the other, Dam embraces chance and works with the inherent properties of glass to achieve incredible beauty through imperfection. He introduces bubbles and flecks of dirt, usually forbidden in glass blowing, which can either be stunning or catastrophic!
Accession Loan No.
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Specimens from an Imaginary Voyage
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Specimens from an Imaginary Voyage
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Period Classification
Modern (1900-)
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Production Year Low
Production Year High
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Created At
2017-05-30 17:32:03
Updated At
2020-01-28 11:43:52

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