Matthew Jarron

Matthew Jarron
University of Dundee


Matthew Jarron is Curator of the University of Dundee Museum Collections, which comprise art, science and medical history as well as the D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum. He is the author or co-author of several books including The Artist & the Thinker: John Duncan & Patrick Geddes in Dundee (2004) and D’Arcy Thompson and his Zoology Museum in Dundee (2010), and has guest-edited issues of the Journal of the Scottish Society for Art History and Interdisciplinary Science Reviews. He was Chair of the Scottish Society for Art History 2005-12 and is currently writing a book on Art in Dundee 1867-1924.

Illustrated Talk 1

Printing Art in Dundee in the late 19th and early 20th centuries
This talk will explore the importance of Dundee as one of the major art centres in Britain towards the end of the 19th century, with a particular focus on the role of the printed image. The blockbuster Fine Art Exhibitions held at the Albert Institute (the biggest art exhibitions of the day outside London) not only inspired a new generation of artists in the city but also stimulated the development of art collecting. While the wealthiest collectors bought paintings, there were many in the city with less disposable income who sought to show their appreciation of art through the purchase of prints. Several commercial galleries grew up as the popularity of etchings exploded at the turn of the century, and numerous sales and exhibitions of prints were held in the city. The fashion inspired many of the city’s own artists to create prints, most notably Frank Laing, whose work was often compared to Whistler’s. At the same time, Dundee was becoming a pioneer of commercially printed images – through the growth of illustrated magazines such as The Piper o’ Dundee and the Wizard of the North, the huge success of Valentines postcards, and most notably the ground-breaking use of newspaper illustrations – the Dundee Advertiser became the first daily paper in Britain (possibly the world) to employ a regular staff artist. This success led directly to DC Thomson’s development of children’s comics in the 1920s and 30s, creating a new form of art in print at just the time that the market for etchings collapsed.

Illustrated Talk 2

A Sketch of the Universe: science, art and the influence of D’Arcy Thompson
D’Arcy Thompson was the first Professor of Biology at University College, Dundee. From the late 1880s he became increasingly interested in applying mathematics to biology and this ground-breaking approach culminated in 1917 in the publication of his classic book On Growth and Form, described as “the greatest work of prose in 20th century science.” As well as pioneering a whole new field of science and informing such diverse subjects as geography, anthropology, architecture and cybernetics, the book has had an extraordinary impact on artists – not only for its new way of explaining hidden structures in the natural world but also for its use of aesthetic terminology and its many artistic analogies. This talk will look at the artistic influence that the book has had, with particular focus on artists’ prints, including works by Henry Moore, Victor Pasmore, Richard Hamilton, Eduardo Paolozzi and Susan Derges. It will also discuss the current Art Funded project led by the University of Dundee Museum Services to build a collection of artwork inspired by D’Arcy’s ideas and collections, which includes the commissioning of a special folio of prints by artists based at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design (which will be on display in the Tower Foyer Gallery during the period of the conference).


Making an Impact – Highlights from the University of Dundee Print Collections
This exhibition features a wealth of material from the University’s extensive print collections. Scottish artists’ printmaking is the principal focus, with work by significant figures such as Elizabeth Blackadder, Eduardo Paolozzi, Ian Hamilton Finlay, John Bellany, Christine Borland and Toby Paterson. Numerous striking examples of printmaking by former students and staff of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design will also be included, alongside prints by other notable 20th-century artists, from Joan Miro to R B Kitaj.