Lately I’ve been inspired by colour and found myself drawn to the wondrous combinations in the natural world, where nothing clashes and everything is changeable. It’s always a good idea to get out and away from your sketchbook to remind yourself where magic comes from – or at least remind yourself that there is a vast world beyond the remit of the everyday, waiting to be discovered. It’s impossible to get fed up of the outdoors!
This ‘skeleton flower’, Diphylleia Grayi, is found in East Asia and its petals are extremely delicate – so much so that rainfall turns the white petals completely transparent. It grows on mountainsides, so the plant itself must be pretty robust, but that juxtaposition with the tissue of the fragile flowers is fascinating to me. The inherent process of changing colour, rather than having a combination of colour to entertain the eye, is extremely rare. Fashion designers are experimenting with interactive clothes and building technology into outerwear (with varying degrees of seriousness), but Diphylleia knocks the spots off them all. There is a video here that you can watch to see the transformation in action. Beautiful.
The Tree of 40 Fruit project is another worth sharing. It’s ongoing, so no doubt there will be many more planted, but this specimen (or specimens, depending on how you look at it) is marvellous!
The project is led by Professor Sam Van Aken of Syracuse University, and at the time of writing the most recent article can be read here. It’s ongoing, and I haven’t looked up all the previous instalments, but I’ll be keeping watch. The monochromatic colour scheme created by the wide variety of fruit is captivating, and reminds me that you don’t have to come up with sophisticated colour combinations to create something beautiful.
That said, I spent last Friday at the Natural History Museum, completely engrossed in the coral exhibition, aka Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea. It runs until 13th September, so if you’re anywhere near London, there’s still time to catch it. I think Coral Reefs is one of the most well curated exhibitions I’ve ever visited. I was not expecting to be as absorbed in marine life as I was that afternoon, nor learn quite as much as I did. Although interesting, nature documentaries tend not to be my first choice, so I really did surprise myself! The photo on the left is one of hundreds made available to the public by Catlin Insurance; they’ve sponsored the exhibition because their company sponsors environmental research, specifically that of the oceans. There were three interactive booths from which one can take a panoramic tour of several of the world’s major coral reefs. I’m slightly embarrassed to say that I was having too much fun playing around with the toy to note down which reef I was looking at, but never mind. Besides, LOOK AT THE COLOURS! You can see why I got completely lost in what I was seeing and doing. If I ever get an opportunity to dive, it would be amazing to see a reef like this with my own eyes. You never know…
Last thing to share is my idea of a fish tank. No bowls of lonely goldfish on a shelf, thanks – this is more like it, and the fish agree. You can’t hear my voice on this recording, but it’s safe to say I enjoyed watching the fish as much as the children did! Hope you enjoy it too.