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

Cleaning Up The Thames: Success or Failure?

Professor Carolyn Roberts
Thursday, 28 September 2017 - 6:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Artificial Intelligence

Professor Martyn Thomas CBE
Tuesday, 13 June 2017 - 6:00PM
WATCHED

From Mr Pickwick to Tiny Tim - Charles Dickens and Medicine

Dr Nicholas Cambridge
Tuesday, 30 May 2017 - 6:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

'All Must Have Prizes': Citizen Science and the Environment

Professor Carolyn Roberts
Thursday, 11 May 2017 - 6:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

The Poetry of Emily Dickinson, Metaphor and its Philosophical Mysteries

Professor Belinda Jack
Tuesday, 9 May 2017 - 6:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Making Software 'Correct by Construction'

Professor Martyn Thomas CBE
Tuesday, 2 May 2017 - 6:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

The Poetry of Robert Frost, The Power and Intrigue of Simile

Professor Belinda Jack
Tuesday, 11 April 2017 - 6:00PM
WATCHED

Cheats, Liars and Fornicators: The Hidden Face of Mother Nature

Professor Steve Jones
Tuesday, 31 January 2017 - 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

What is it about Cocaine that makes it addictive?

Dr William Harrop-Griffiths
Monday, 6 February 2017 - 1:55PM
WATCHED

The Role of Collaboration in Nature and its Link to Success

Professor Steve Jones
Tuesday, 31 January 2017 - 6:59PM
WATCHED

The Offspring of Semi-Female Mimics in Ruffs

Professor Steve Jones
Tuesday, 31 January 2017 - 6:58PM
WATCHED

What Is The Advantage To The Flowers That Are 'Orchid-Mimics'?

Professor Steve Jones
Tuesday, 31 January 2017 - 6:56PM
WATCHED

An Interesting Fact About Female Swordtail Fish

Professor Steve Jones
Tuesday, 31 January 2017 - 6:55PM
WATCHED

Why Is Sir Walter Scott Not In Popular Culture Today?

Dr Juliet Shields
Tuesday, 17 January 2017 - 1:59PM