art imitates nature to reveal the delicate beauty of moths



a close up of a rock next to a tree: Photograph: Alamy


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Alamy

It is intriguing that moths are one of the few animal groups to trigger a recognised psychological anxiety, “mottephobia”. It is surely a reflection of our deep-seated diurnal biases that we visit all manner of affections upon butterflies but withhold them from their nocturnal relatives. Working on the assumption, cited by Dostoevsky in Demons, that “one cannot love what one does not know”, the artist Sarah Gillespie has mounted a campaign at Helston’s Kestle Barton art centre to change our minds. Her print exhibition, Moth, running until 31 October, is a glorious revelation of the insects’ special brand of beauty.

Moths are subtle, the colours delicate, their patterns and chromatic combinations a blend of revealing form and protective function. Often a moth’s appearance is as much disguise as it is a declaration of identity.

Gillespie captures all this complex aesthetic information, but her

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