Specimen Colony

Paperback / softback
Produced in collaboration with the Bluecoat Arts Centre, Alec Finlay's Specimen Colony draws on an exhibition of participative public sculpture that creates a series of colourful colonies composed of nest boxes. It acts as a reflection on dwelling and diaspora. A nest box is a functional and familiar object and opened out, its form suggests the schematic figure of a bird. Finlay's work transposes the colours of exotic birds found on foreign postage stamps onto these nest boxes. A project for a City whose emblem is a bird, the work functions as a contemplation on Liverpool's global links through trade and migration. In collecting and collaging postage stamps illustrated with birds, Finlay extends the symbol of migration. Birds have always been emblems of national identity. Postage stamps carry these emblems around the world and it is not surprising that birds appear on over 12,000 specimens, illustrating 3,000 species. Stamps govern communication; correspondence represents the free flow of ideas; letters go between loved ones who are separated; and stamp collecting is one of the most popular ways people discover the world.