Wild things looks at interpretive nature signage found in Irish parks, wetlands, and nature reserves. Hand-painted by regional wildlife artists, the signs depict the animal and plant life we could expect to see in the surrounding landscape. They present us with a romantic vision of the natural world, named and numbered, wild scenes teeming with flora and fauna. Weathered and decrepit, the signs brought to mind early natural history illustrations or the frescos of Pompeii.
The attempt to place an order on nature seems to be hard-wired in the human brain. From the earliest cave paintings to Linnaeus’ ambitious attempts to catalogue all of the world’s species, we have sought to make sense of the apparent chaos of the living world, arranging species into hierarchical groups through the prism of human vision. In seeing and naming the living world, we forge some of our deepest relationships with these elusive, wild things.