Unctuous Between Fingers, 2019

HD video, 15min

Commissioned by the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter


Unctuous Between Fingers takes as its starting point, an archive of pressed seaweeds and algaes held by the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, collected predominantly by women in the mid 1800’s. A gendered hobby, ‘seaweeding’ was considered a creative pastime of little importance. However, many of the collectors made a significant contribution to marine botany, meticulously recording specimens and sharing their findings generously with the (male) scientific community.


What happens when something slippery, living and intangible is pressed, dried and flattened? What do we lose or gain in the process of preserving these specimens and how does this transformation from slippery and elusive, to brittle and hard relate to ideas around collecting and care, active and historicised feminisms?


Through a process of archival research and workshops with enthusiasts, artists, scientists and philosophers, the work explores the seaweed collection’s relationship to contemporary ideas and conversations. Considering our interconnectedness with our more-than-human world, the work poses the question, what we can learn from seaweed?



Unctuous Between Fingers

Bryony Gillard, 2019

Edit: Bryony Gillard

Edit support, sound mix & camera: Oliver Sutherland


Contributors to the film:

Hannah Aspinall, Kayle Brandon, Maria Christoforidou, Katherine Hall, Sarah Hotchkiss, Katie Orchel, Sammy Playford, Astrid Schrader, Fern Thomas. Additional contributions from North Devon Coast Wise.


With thanks to the team at Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Spike Exhibition Services, Sarah Hotchkiss, Oliver Sutherland, Matt Slater and David Wilkinson.


Commissioned by the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter. Supported by The Elephant Trust, courtesy of the George Melluish Bequest.