The challenge of ruling a diverse nation never changes

The challenge of ruling a diverse nation never changes

This very weighty and important subject is as relevant right now as it was in the 16th Century. That was when a Dutch engraving by artist Pieter van der Borcht the Elder managed to capture the complexity and challenging nature of geopolitics and ruling in a country with many different ideologies and in the midst…

Dni Głogowa

Every Picture Tells a Story: Dni Głogowa

One day while walking along the lovely Odra river in Głogow on a hot and sunny day, I came upon the Museum of Archaeology and History in Głogow. Teenagers were reenacting some kind of WWII scene. This was done in conjunction with a yearly festival they have in the town called Dni Głogowa or Days…

Enchanting floating ships by Italian Architect Luigi Prina

Enchanting floating ships by Italian Architect Luigi Prina

Italian architect Luigi Prina has been interested in aircraft modelling since a very young age. However, it was only after he met Venetian painter and boat builder Eugenio Tomiolo that he started to create flying ship models from ultra-thin paper and balsa wood inspired after Roman, Greek and Viking designs. His collection (or fleet) of…

The terrace houses of Sevilla, Spain

Travel: The Beautiful Terrace Windows of Triana, Sevilla

Back in 2010 during a particularly sweltering summer, I visited Andalucia and soaked in the beautiful architecture in Sevilla. The best way to see all of the charming neighbourhoods and historic monuments was going the tourist routes with an open-top bus. This also afforded me excellent views onto all of the terrace houses with their…

Retro TV Channels from the 70's, 80's and 90's are on the internet for all posterity

Retro TV Channels from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s are on the internet for all posterity

Want something a little bit different for your next party? Here's  a novel idea for entertaining guests. A modern browser version of vintage TV channels featuring soaps, ads, comedy, drama, music and even news from particular decades! Find it here The only requirement is that you use a PC for this app rather than a touchscreen…

All About Amazing Op Art

All About Amazing Op Art

Op Art descended out of geometric art of the 50's and the Bauhaus movement in Germany, which I have previously written about in the Origins of Flat Design. The 60's was a period of discovery in science, psychology and new technology. This type of art reflects the experimental mood of that era. The pieces normally…

Forgotten Pop Art Pioneer Dorothy Grebenak's Rugs Are Awesome

Forgotten Pop Art Pioneer Dorothy Grebenak’s Rugs Are Awesome

Dorothy Grebenak was born in Nebraska in 1913 and was a self-taught rug maker who originally made rugs stocked in a Brooklyn museum. Although these weren't rugs in the folk style, they are designed to be displayed on walls as art. These rugs were depictions of humble and everyday objects, which brought them into the…

The Viking Imagination: Medieval Cartography of Scandinavia http://wp.me/p41CQf-Iuf

The Viking Imagination: Medieval Cartography of Scandinavia

Just because I love cartography, here's a couple of remarkable Scandanavian medieval maps. Note the dominance of several kraken and sea monsters off the Norwegian coast and how each country is barely hanging on by a thread because of these menacing beasts. Here be magic, Vikings and mysterious beasts. Velleius Islandia by Abraham Ortellius (1603)…

The Most Beautiful Maps on Earth

Map Porn Part 2: The Most Beautiful Geological Maps on Earth

Where Art Meets Science Scientific visualisations often can look just like objects of visual art. A few weeks ago in Part 1, we looked at how topographical surveys are visualised on both our moon and Jupiter's moon. This time, we are focusing on our own Pale Blue Dot. Both as art and scientific visualisation these…

Welcome to Biba: A Legendary Department Store in London's Swinging 60's

Welcome to Big Biba: A Legendary Department Store in London’s Swinging 60’s

Big Biba was an outrageous cornucopia of weird fashion on the London high street in the 60's. Before H&M, Topshop or Harvey Nichols there was Biba. Invented by IT girl of the time, Polish-born Barbara Hulanicki, Biba started out as a mail order store that sold one dress available in one size. Very rapidly it…

A placid and beautiful Highland Cow, found roaming on the Isle of Skye. Copyright Content Catnip 2010.

Travel: A History of the Beautiful Highland Cow

Highland Cows or as they are commonly known in Scotland Highland Coos are an ancient breed known to have grazed the rugged Scottish landscape since the sixth century. Their genetic origins are still up for debate. They may be native to Scotland or introduced by the Vikings to Great Britain. One scientific train of thought…

Roadtrip on the Isle of Skye. Gloaming sky

Travel: The ruins of Duntulm Castle on Trotternish

I visited Duntulm on the northerly most point of the Trotternish peninsula on the Isle of Skye back in 2010. Many many moons ago, perhaps several thousand years ago, the now mostly ravaged and ruined castle was originally a Pictish fortress, forming one of a chain of duns or forts stretching along the north coast…

Travel: Meandering around the Mynydd Carningli neolithic hillfort

Travel: Poking around the Mynydd Carningli neolithic hillfort

In 2010 I stayed for a while by the Welsh seaside in Newport, Pembrokeshire, Wales. I loved the wild waves and sea air, dramatic black cliffs and bright green hillside dotted with sleepy sheep. But most of all I loved the hill walks there, particularly Myndd Carningli, a splendid 347 meter tall mountain that holds…

Beautiful maps & beautiful Welsh tales: The Mabinogion

Beautiful maps & beautiful Welsh tales: The Mabinogion

The Mabinogion is a magical and mythical Celtic classic from the  thirteenth century or earlier. It's thoroughly Welsh and is considered a masterpiece of medieval literature. Although written down during the middle ages, experts think these stories may date from the dawn of Celtic civilisation in Britain. The Mabinogion has given rise to all of…

The Strandbeest and it's glittering seaside evolution

The Strandbeest and its glittering seaside evolution

Theo Jansen’s strandbeests are composed of spindly plastic organs that take elephantine strides. They have guts that store energy and are powered by wind. They are sensitive mechanical beasts that can even detect water. Each of Jansen's ingenious strandbeests are miracles in motion. They may very well be the next stages of natural selection.  Jansen…

Tiny building sites: It's a small world after all

Tiny building sites: It’s a small world after all

Readers of this blog will understand and share my obsession with small-scale buildings, tiny books, paper towns and jewelry boxes and boudoir ornaments for mermaids. These quirky art forms are uncannily beautiful in their falseness. They also make Mini Materials now offers lovers of miniature the unprecedented opportunity to build their own life-like models of…

The Book of Life by Alesha Sivratha

The Book of Life by Alesha Sivratha

Alesha Sivartha’s enigmatic 1898 book The Book of Life: The Spiritual and Physical Constitution of Man, combines mysticism, sociology, theosophy, art and culture into a unique philosophy. Other than its bewildering, and unusual theories, which characterise a lot of the theosophical books of this time, the most striking aspect of this book are the diagrams contained…

Life on an Edwardian Farm

Life on an Edwardian Farm

In this series by the BBC, a group of historians and archaeologists recreate the running of a farm during the Edwardian era. This is a fascinating series that was originally aired in 2011 and now resides on countless Youtube channels - for better or worse with regards to copyright. Still, these issues aside this is…

Travel: Yarchen Gar, Tibet

Travel: Yarchen Gar, Tibet

Yarchen Gar also known as the Yaqên Orgyän Temple is located in the Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province, China Geographically remote and nestled in a valley some 4,000 metres above sea level, the temple rarely sees tourists or visitors. The monastery is associated with the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism . At Yarchen Gar there is a concentration of…

Ancient Word of the Day: Hibernal

Ancient word of the day: Flukra

As the southern hemisphere turns now towards the colder months we are all finding comfort into our nests and getting cosy for the winter. In New Zealand and the southern parts of Australia we are experiencing snow in the alpine regions. So it seems appropriate now to talk about the many ancient words for snow.…