My last series ‘Instar’ is named after the term given to the various developmental stages in the metamorphosis of an insect.
The collection is dedicated to the memory of a fascinating 17th century woman of science, Maria Merian, who dedicated her life to the close observation of insects. She was the first person to offer proof of metamorphosis and dispel the widespread contemporary belief was that insects were "born of mud" by spontaneous generation. Merian documented evidence and described the life cycles of 186 insect species over her lifetime. She was an accomplished artist and her illustrations and engravings are stunning examples of her botanical and entomological observations.
Maria was a fearless and intrepid explorer, and in 1699 she sailed with her daughter nearly 5,000 miles from the Netherlands to South America to study insects in the jungles of what is now known as Suriname. She was 52. The result was her magnum opus, ‘Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium’. Her achievements were extraordinary for a woman born within the constraints of 17th century society, and despite being partially paralysed by a stroke, she continued working until her death in Amsterdam in 1717. The death register lists her as a pauper.
Maria Sybilla Merian, naturalist, 2 April 1647 – 13 January 1717