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 a strange and forgotten alien world: Socotra

Welcome to a strange and forgotten alien world: Socotra

Looking like a cross between a surreal computer game and an alien planet, Socotra is a relatively unexplored and remote island off the coast of Arabian Peninsula. It's a sparkling diamond of natural diversity and rugged wildness, with over 700 endemic species of flora and fauna. Only a small number of countries have more endemic…

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…

All About Maori Kite Making

All About Maori Kite Making

There are 17 types of Maori kites. Traditionally made from strong timber framing like manuka wood they were woven with flax and the paper and bark of the mulberry plant until the plant went virtually extinct. Birdman kites have a powerful symbolism for Maori tribes. One such taonga was gifted to the British Museum in…

Exquisite Marine Invertebrates of the 19th Century http://wp.me/p41CQf-rWG

Exquisite Marine Invertebrates of the 19th Century

In this blog in previous years, I've talked about how humans and cephalopods are oddly similar, explored the underwater realm of Sydney Harbour in great detail, and the invisible realm of microscopic creatures rendered by Ernest Haeckel. But in terms of delicate creatures, the Blaschkas were the 19th Century heavy-weights. I originally posted this post…

Travel: Exploring Ancient Kidwelly Castle in Wales

Travel: Exploring Ancient Kidwelly Castle in Wales

About ten years ago I visited Carmarthenshire, Wales and discovered the ruins of Kidwelly Castle with a friend and fellow couch-surfer. It was a delightful and fascinating day, full of overcast grey weather, souvenirs, bara brith, Welsh rarebit and early medieval history. Perched close to the wind-swept seaside and encircled by beautiful lapwings, ducks and…

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…

Mana Wahine: The Female Moko in Māori Culture

Mana Wahine: The Female Moko in Māori Culture

Tā moko represents a person's mana (status or power) in society. This is best highlighted by the time when the chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi with their mokos in 1840. The Moko Kauae is a chin tattoo traditional reserved for Māori women with mana (high status and power). Traditionally, female healers (tohunga) had a close relationship…

11 Archaic Words That Deserve Full Revival

Here are eleven words that I have collected in much the same way as other people collect smooth stones from a riverbed or iridescent shells from a beach. With so many words and shells floating around, how can you be sure that you have the prettiest ones? Here are eleven of my favourite ancient words,…

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…

When chapman billies leave the street, And drouthy neibors, neibors, meet; As market days are wearing late, And folk begin to tak the gate, While we sit bousing at the nappy, An' getting fou and unco happy, We think na on the lang Scots miles, The mosses, waters, slaps and stiles, That lie between us and our hame, Where sits our sulky, sullen dame, Gathering her…

Strange Victorian Journeys Into the Fourth Dimension

Strange Victorian Journeys Into the Fourth Dimension

Men of broader intellect know that there is no sharp distinction betwixt the real and the unreal… — H.P. Lovecraft, The Tomb (1917) During the Belle Époque, or the Beautiful Age, men and women of science and rationality sought comfort from new spheres of influence in technology, art and spirituality. Suddenly no ideas were out of bounds…

Book Review: Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered To Do It by Geoff Dyer

Book Review: Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered To Do It by Geoff Dyer

In this travel memoir by novelist Geoff Dyer  I read this book waiting to be immersed into the world of the travel. Although sadly I found the result rather disappointing to be honest. He is a great writer don’t get me wrong - I loved his novel Paris, Trance in the past. This was a…

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…

Cyclops by Odilon Redon

Dreamy Art of Sublime Fantasy: Odilon Reddon

  Odilon Redon's art is the kind of mystical haze of colour and composition that you would find in the corner of your consciousness as you emerge from sleep. I love his art because of this reason, it hints at hidden worlds of emotion and depth that are located deep within us all. Odilon Redon…

Every Picture Tells a Story: Wir Bleiben Alle https://wp.me/p41CQf-KHm

Travel: Wir Bleiben Alle, Berlin

Wir Bleiben Alle which roughly translates to We Are All Staying is a punk anarchist squat, bar and multi-level music venue. It's an integral part of the modern resistance movement in Berlin which protests against the rising rents and gentrification of suburbs Prenzlauerberg and Kruezberg. This is where artists, writers and bohemian types used to…

Curious Victorian Fantasies of the Year 2000

Curious Victorian Fantasies of the Year 2000

In 1986, when famed science fiction author Isaac Asimov chanced upon a delightful series of postcards dating from 1899, 1900, 1901 and 1910 France, he couldn't believe his luck! The postcards depicted scenes from a barely imagined future, then a distant figment of imagination. Of the 21st Century, imagined by French artists in the midst…

Short film: Celestial wonders in downtown London

Short film: Celestial wonders in downtown London

In this stunning short film called Sun Moon London by filmmaker Luke Miller, we witness otherworldly visions of the interplay of the moon, sun and bustling central London. Luke captured the harvest moon on the 5th of October 2017, when the moon was at its zenith of autumnal equinox. Along with footage of the 1st…