Tuesday, March 29, 2011

RHS Great London Plant Fair

The scene in the Lawrence Hall,  mid-morning.

 Tuesday and Wednesday are the days of the RHS Great London Plant Fair. This is the last London Show until 4 & 5 October (the Autumn Harvest Show). Judging form the crowds who came on Tuesday, it is a popular event and I saw lots of people leaving in the afternoon weighed down with bags of lovely plants.

The exhibitors' stands were looking in superb condition with outstanding plants on display; and the attention to detail was outstanding.

 In the Lindley Hall there were displays of the various competitions being held by the plant societies. Enthusiasts crowded around the individual displays to see the prize winners in a very stiff competition.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A touch Dutch

On our walk today we came across this scene on the Wey Navigation. It looks very like a Paulus Potter or Aelbert Cuyp painting - or so we thought.

Paulus Potter
Aelbert Cuyp

Saturday, March 12, 2011

View Suspended 2

What's that, you may well ask - well, we read about it on line and had to investigate. A trip to Mercedes Benz World, Weybridge was planned to visit this exhibit by Dutch artist Paul Veroude. A Mercedes GP Formula 1 car was stripped down to individual components which have been suspended in space; that's getting on for three and a half thousand pieces hung from a special metal grid to show the car milliseconds after it has exploded. A sort of big bang theory applied to it. Made from carbon fibre, titanium, aluminium and magnesium and wieghing around 600kg, it's an amazing installation and well worth going to see. MBW do say in the information about the installation that it is an artwork and not intended to be an exact replica of a current Mercedes GP Petronas Formula 1 car, so the newspapers that claim this is, or rather was, Michael Schumacher's car from the 2010 season are spinning things a bit.

MBW also have some of the previous few years' Formula 1 cars powered by Mercedes, as well as their usual collection of Mercedes road cars, ancient and modern.
Paul Veroude's first View Suspended was of a Honda Formula 1 car which made its debut in Shangai in 2005. There's an interesting blog about it on the Honda Car Forum

Friday, March 04, 2011

Laboratory Life in Brighton

Yesterday, M invited us to join her at the monthly talk at The Lighthouse in Brighton, which was about Laboratory Life, part of Brighton Science Week. (You may have seen her bloggings on Hecticium.) We set off and after a pleasant drive, found a good car park near both the Lighthouse and the station where we were going to meet her. So we had plenty of time to go and look at the exhibition of work produced over the week or so of collaboration between the five teams of artists and scientists.
First there was the project Tattoo Traits. The team members had made a mixture and extracted DNA from it. This was then used to tattoo other living things such as beans - would they manage to change the original organism by randomly 'infecting' one of its cells nuclei with the DNA? We saw tattooed beans and apples, a muslin cloth used to extract the DNA as well as a 'human centrifuge' - one of the team filmed whirling around with the files of 'gloop' attached to his waste on long strings, flying around with him!
Then came Anna Dumitriu's project, Infective Textiles, that M was collaborating on. Here, the team collected all sorts of bacteria from around Brighton and cultured them. These were then used to 'infect' calico and the whole was left to incubate. The bacteria produced many different colours on the fabric which was also embroidered with thread that was dyed using natural and man made antibiotics. The resulting Regency dress was on display with its pastel shades and colourful embroidery. Anna said that if there had been time to incubate the bacteria for longer the colours would be much stronger. As it was there was one tiny spot of bright red on the dress - a hint of what could be achieved.

On the table you can see some of the anti-biotic threads used for the embroidery as well as some of the small paper samples that the visitors to open studios made. M had found an old copy of Pride and Pred - Regency connection - some pages of which were cut up and used. These are displayed in the photoframes on the wall.
There was also the automatic writing project which produced a fascinating video entitled 'publicmisunderstandingofscience'. Visitors to the open studios doodled  while listening to scientific discourse on synthetic biology.Only it was much more complicated than this brief description.
Another group decided to look for the fruit fly that could survive the atmosphere on Saturn's moon, Titan, in case, in the future, we needed to evacuate Earth to Titan as the sun had become too hot for life on Earth. They subjected 'virgin' flies to simulated conditions on Titan, substituting for things that they couldn't manage to reproduce e.g. Vodka rain instead of Methane. The resultant flies were purported to be the would-be ancestors of the drosophila that could eventually go to Titan. They even produced a paper of their work.
Lastly, displayed in a room of its own was the Garden Shed Lab. They used a plastic tent-like 'shed' and divided it into two sections. Here they worked on tissue culture using chick embryos, a technique that is over 100 years old, using a mixture of home cooking and laboratory techniques.They also used Thomas Strangeways' techniques using fresh uncooked sausage.
It was all quite amazing, but now we had to go and collect M from the station. When she arrived we wandered back through some of the fascinating side streets in the area - some tattoo shops as well as boutiques selling everything from jewellery to clothes, gifts to books, ethnic wares to home items. M said during her time working they had found multiple shoe shops, too! Eventually we came to Bill's, a restaurant in a warehouse where M planned we should have supper before the talk.The meal was excellent and the desserts were photographed!

Then we went off to The Lighthouse to attend the monthly talk. Each of the team leaders, the artists, talked about their project and the way in which they had gone about achieving their goals and there was an interesting discussion following that touched on something they had all considered during the experimental stages - the ethical side of things. But all too soon we ran out of time and Honor Hagar, Lighthouse Director closed the proceedings, thanking us all for coming.

If you want to read about Laboratory Life click here
Blogs by the participants. Laughing Snail is one of them.
The Lighthouse
Bill's Restaurant and Café