I Love Belgium interviews The Darwin Sect
Florence Samain and Dave Monfort are the brains (and hands) behind The Darwin Sect. Together they create unique and astonishing art installations of insects.
Tell our readers the history of The Darwin Sect:
We have both always been interested in nature in general, perhaps I (Florence) was the one with the more specific interest in insects. One day, just outside our Brussels house, I found a bumblebee on the ground, and by instinct I picked it up. We both became like little children when we cleaned it and looked at it through magnifying glass and discovered things about it that you don’t usually pay attention to. So we wanted to do something with it, not only for us but also for a larger audience. That bumblebee marked the start of The Darwin Sect.
What kind of insects do you use for your installations?
Well, after we found the bumblebee and realized our fascination by insects in general, we started to look online for insects. Most of them are from Asia and Central America but we have been working with insects from all over the world. However, the origin is not really important to us, neither is the rarity. We only do this as an aesthetic art form, to show the beauty in nature and insects, not to pride ourselves in finding anything rare. This is also grounded in our love for nature and insects, we are very careful. We only buy insects that are not on the EU red-listed species or any other endangered insects. Making ethical choices is very important for us.
So, tell us about the process of creating these beautiful installations?
First thing is to find an (not endangered) insect that we want to work with. After that, we receive it by mail, and the insects’ wings are always folded and there’s a lot of work to it before you can put in a glass showcase. First thing is to put them in a special box with a high humidity percentage. It takes around a week (depending on the insect) for the insects to be moist and easier to work with. After that comes a drying process for a couple of days. Then we needle them under the magnifying glass and we start the actual craftsmanship, and this is the part of the process we love. You discover new colors, new shapes and amazing attributes of every insect you put under the light. It’s amazing, every time.
The glass showcases are bought in various flea markets as these types are not in production any more and we want an authentic and old feeling to it.
What’s the goal for The Darwin Sect? Are you selling the pieces?
The goal is to get people amazed by insects’ and nature’s beauty. Selling has never been an objective of ours, having said that, we do sell the installations.
We approach the sale idea differently. We had an event in October 2014 where we showed our work in our apartment. We wanted it to be a sort of temporary museum. The goal was to open peoples’ eyes– selling was not the aim. The reception of the event exceeded all our expectations: we had a full house throughout the evening. People were amazed and as a result people wanted to bring them home.
We want more people to connect with nature, that’s our main aim. We have never done a business plan or anything like that. We do what we love and are happy to show more people what the beauty of the nature has to offer.
What’s up next for The Darwin Sect?
We have created a piece we call the Christmas tree, or the Evolution-Tree which is donated to an auction for a breast-cancer charity. The next event will probably take place somewhere in spring.
If people are interested the can check our Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook for more information. Also, we offer a made-to-order choice, where you can choose the insect of your choice, size of the glass show case etc.
And the last question as always: Why do you love Belgium?
Well, we are like insects: we don’t feel like we belong to a certain nation, we are international. No boarders and no countries. We love nature, is that answering your question? (laughter)