Wednesday, 19 February 2014, 6:00PM
Museum of London

Snails in Art and the Art of Snails

Professor Steve Jones

Snails play a surprising part in art. Dali used them as images of impotence, while medieval painters included them in paintings of the Virgin Mary, due to the belief that their shells meant that their modesty was protected and they reproduced without sex. Gravestones are sometimes etched with snail images for they are seen as creatures that undergo resurrection when, after a long period of drought, it rains and thousands of snails that had been dried up start crawling around. Dutch flower paintings often include snails for the message behind those works was that, beautiful as the flowers are, they will soon be consumed, like human flesh, by worms, by insects - and by snails. Many other aspects of the biology of snails have an echo in art, and some art-works hint at the question why some species are so genetically variable in shell colour and pattern? Perhaps we can learn from the world of painting, as a hint that the two cultures may, at least in the world of molluscs, be uniting to form one. 

 

 

Speaker_SteveJones_370x370.jpg

Professor Steve Jones is Emeritus Professor of Genetics at University College London and an author of several popular science books. He is one of the world's top six experts on the genetics of snails (and the other five agree) and has also studied the genetics and evolution of fruit flies and humans.

Professor Jones was born in 1944 in Aberystwyth, Wales, and has degrees from the University of Edinburgh and University of Chicago. Much of his academic research has been concerned with snails and the light their anatomy can shed on biodiversity and genetics. He is Professor of genetics at Galton Laboratory of University College London, and has had visiting posts at Harvard University, the University of Chicago, the University of California at Davis, University of Botswana, Fourah Bay College in Sierra Leone, and Flinders University in Adelaide.

Professor Jones is probably best known to the general public as a regular broadcaster and writer of popular books on scientific issues. He gave the 1991 Reith Lecture on "The Language of the Genes", has written and presented a Radio 3 series on science and the arts, "Blue Skies", and a TV series on human genetics, "In the Blood". He also appears on other radio and TV programmes, such as Today, Question Time, Late Review and Newsnight , and writes a regular column in The Daily Telegraph, "View from the Lab".

His many books include Genetics for Beginners (Icon Books), The Language of the Genes (HarperCollins), In The Blood (HarperCollins), Almost like a Whale: The Origin of Species Updated (Anchor Books), Y: the Descent of Men (Little, Brown).

All of Professor Jones's past Gresham lectures can be accessed here.

Current Gresham Professor of Genetics

Read More
Read Less

Transcript

19 February 2014

Snails in Art and the Art of Snails
Professor Steve Jones

View PDF
Print
Related Future Lectures
Related Past Lectures
WATCHED
Part of a series

Hans Holbein the Younger: 'a man very excellent in making of physionamies'

Dr Susan Foister
Monday, 6 June 2016 - 1:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Rubens and London

Dr Simon Thurley
Monday, 13 June 2016 - 1:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Big Data: The Broken Promise of Anonymisation

Professor Martyn Thomas CBE
Tuesday, 14 June 2016 - 6:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Canaletto's London Legacy

Dr Pat Hardy
Monday, 20 June 2016 - 1:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

London Fog and the Impressionists

Dr Christine Corton
Monday, 27 June 2016 - 1:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Black Holes

Professor Joseph Silk
Wednesday, 28 September 2016 - 1:00PM
WATCHED

Cultural Heritage and War

Sir Derek Plumbly KCMG
Thursday, 19 May 2016 - 2:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Development, Developers and the Water Environment

Professor Carolyn Roberts
Thursday, 12 May 2016 - 6:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Theatre and Love: Tom Stoppard, 'The Real Thing'

Professor Belinda Jack
Tuesday, 10 May 2016 - 6:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Cybersecurity

Professor Martyn Thomas CBE
Tuesday, 3 May 2016 - 6:00PM
WATCHED

Our Future Off Earth

Professor Christopher Impey
Tuesday, 26 April 2016 - 6:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Sir Christopher Wren: Buildings, Place and Genius

Dr Simon Thurley
Wednesday, 20 April 2016 - 6:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Homo Sapiens, an Endangered Species

Professor Steve Jones
Tuesday, 22 March 2016 - 6:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Germs, Genes and Genesis: The History of Infectious Disease

Professor Steve Jones
Tuesday, 16 February 2016 - 6:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

No Need for Geniuses: Scientific Revolutions and Revolutionary Scientists in the City of Light

Professor Steve Jones
Monday, 25 January 2016 - 6:00PM
WATCHED

Nature, Nurture or Neither? The View from the Genes

Professor Steve Jones
Wednesday, 25 March 2015 - 6:00PM
WATCHED

Is Human Evolution Over?

Professor Steve Jones
Wednesday, 11 February 2015 - 6:00PM
WATCHED

Did God Evolve? An Evolutionist's Speculation about Religion

Professor Steve Jones
Wednesday, 28 January 2015 - 6:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Cyberattacks: How Can You Protect Yourself?

Professor Martyn Thomas CBE
Tuesday, 3 May 2016 - 6:30PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Cyberattacks: Cross-site Scripting

Professor Martyn Thomas CBE
Tuesday, 3 May 2016 - 6:25PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Cyberattacks: Injections

Professor Martyn Thomas CBE
Tuesday, 3 May 2016 - 6:20PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Cyberattacks: The Hidden Danger of Public WiFi

Professor Martyn Thomas CBE
Tuesday, 3 May 2016 - 6:15PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Cyberattacks: Botnets

Professor Martyn Thomas CBE
Tuesday, 3 May 2016 - 6:10PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Cyberattacks: Phishing and Spear-phishing

Professor Martyn Thomas CBE
Tuesday, 3 May 2016 - 6:05PM