ISAAC BLEASE



THE BUTTERFLY COMPLEX


Informed by the African butterfly collection bequeathed to me by my Grandfather, The Butterfly Complex, draws upon the similarities between the act of catching, ordering and preserving of Lepidoptera, with the colonial ideologies of conquest, control, and acquisition.

This similarity occurred the deeper I analysed the collection, (which is now housed at the Natural History Museum, London); as more and more my prior romanticized vision of the continent was being contradicted by family photographs from the time that depicted the bourgeois and illustrated an Africa in which the expatriate roamed free.

I began to see the selective amnesia regarding the mental and physical legacy left by the adverse history of British colonialism being unwrapped visually and metaphorically in the forceful nature and methodology of butterfly collecting.


The following spreads are taken from a publication I made, in which family photographs were sequenced alongside writings from a popular butterfly collecting handbook.

Isaac Blease

b. 1992, United Kingdom

Isaac Blease, is a photographer from the United Kingdom. He studied Documentary Photography at the University of South Wales, graduating in 2015.

His work has been shortlisted for the Jerwood/Photoworks award, and in 2017 won the Deutsche Bank DBACE award for Art and Photography.

In 2017, he received his MA in Curatorial Practice from the University of West England, during which he undertook a year-long work placement at Bristol Archives within the British Empire and Commonwealth collection. Currently, he is co-producing the Activating the Archive programme with IC Visual Lab, supported by the Arts Council England.

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