Last weekend in Falmouth …
Last weekend in Falmouth …
Big, beautiful skies, waving reeds and rambling woodland: last weekend at RSPB Minsmere
Originally built in 1758 it once stood in a country hunting park but now overlooks a mixture of Victorian and 20th century housing, within sight of Edgbaston reservoir. It’s a slightly strange sight, huddled on a suburban street but the crumbling interior still manages to evoke a sense of past grandeur.
Here’s what I saw:
Yesterday I went down to London, mainly to go to a lecture but also, as I was in the neighbourhood, to spend the day at the Natural History Museum, somewhere that I’ve never really lingered very much.
I’m so glad that I did. It’s treasure trove of fascinating exhibits and, though I didn’t find as many fossils as I’d hoped for on display I did discover the Mineral Galleries, up in the roof, which yielded an astounding array of colourful textures and surfaces:
Some of these macro shots are almost reminiscent of a coral reef, with the minerals forming either beautifully organic structures or some really rather mathematical constructs, all effortlessly intersecting angles and sharp lines.
Plus, tucked away up there, I found two whole cases of silver mineral samples, some of which reminded me very much of those that I saw in Edinburgh, in January, all long, coiling wires that occurred naturally as the silver formed:
The two samples on the plinth are particularly large examples of these natural wires and are still attached to the rocks upon which they grew. They were found in Norway in 1834 and 1886 respectively, they hail from the Kongsberg Silver mines and are now housed in the Museum’s Vault exhibition space.
The National Museum of Scotland, set in the heart of Edinburgh, is a veritable treasure trove of interesting objects and specimens from around the world.
Here’s what I learned when I visited last week:
– In 1843 it was acceptable to ask Whalers to bring you back bone samples for your collections. But you had to remember to tell them not to carve things on them during the long voyage home:
– Birmingham was home to one of the country’s only specialists in lighthouse light construction: glassmakers Chance & Co
– The Museum houses a large collection of the internal workings from Lighthouses, and companies like Chance and Co made their construction into an art form:
– The Flapjack Octopus is incredibly cute.
This weekend I took my wellies to the beach, hunting for lovely snatches of texture amongst the rocks of Dunraven Bay, on the Welsh coast:
This weekend I dragged my bike up to Derbyshire to explore the Tissington Trail, somewhere I once went as a kid but had, largely, forgotten. Turns out that it’s pretty picturesque (even on an overcast day) and I had a wonderful time exploring the landscape along this dis-used railway line:
While in the Lake District last month I stumbled across the Mere Gallery, just above Lake Windermere. In their window and across their walls were a series of stark, black and white lithographs by local artist Alan Stones. I was very much taken in by their simple sense of space where swathes of blank, white paper are offset by comparatively tiny, delightfully detailed prints of birds and people, landscapes and activities, almost lost in the white space but, thankfully, not quite.
Here are a few favourites to enjoy:
This summer I took my first trip to the Cornish seaside, somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit but have never managed to – now that I have I think that it could now become a firm favourite of mine.
I spent a few days wandering around the local beaches, exploring the South Coast Path where it meandered by the campsite and generally soaking in the sound of the waves and the blue, blue sea. The landscape is certainly inspiring, at turns gentle then wild and I was so sad to come home!
Of course I didn’t spend the whole week wandering along the coastline (though that wouldn’t have been a challenge) I did venture down to St Ives to take in the light and explore the twisting streets of the town. It offers up a whole host of independent galleries filled with the work of local and international makers and artists, many of whom have been influenced by the beautiful local landscape.
Davies paints landscapes, with big, heavy brush strokes and expressive sweeps of colour that all build up on top of each other into some seriously captivating textures. Some of them are stormy, some a little serene as he reacts to the changes in the seasons around his home near St Ives.
Tucked away in a cabinet downstairs was the work of Cornelius Jakob Van Dop, a jeweller and metalsmith with a clear love for texture, line and the natural world. His small, palm sized boxes are decorated with beautiful illustrations of the coastal landscape and wildlife. There was something in them that reminded me of sailors scimshaw carvings, filled with the details that had been keenly observed during a life looking at the sea.
They were beautifully made, with neat hinges and simple dimple locking mechanisms that functioned neatly and really let the quality of the illustrations come across. Alongside these were a collection of animal and insect brooches, I particularly liked the whale, simply made in plain silver with more of that glorious fine detailing:
The Gallery is open all year round and details can be found here.