Sketches from Hastings

I’ve lived in Hastings for nearly eight months now, and I am still continually struck by how beautiful it can be. Travelling around, and coming home, I welcome the sight of the sea, and the rise and swell of the East and West hills.

Not had much time to do anything but work and catch up with life, but here are a couple of quick drawings I did months ago and have just got round to finishing off. The first is Pelham Crescent, the street where I live, and the second is what used to be Broomham Hall, now Buckswood School, where I work. More to come, hopefully.

Pelham Crescent, Hastings. Leila Battison, 2013.

Pelham Crescent, Hastings. Leila Battison, 2013.

Buckswood School, Guestling. Leila Battison, 2013

Buckswood School, Guestling. Leila Battison, 2013

Bang! Issue 7 is Out Now!

Yes, I know, a flurry of posts now, but its raining outside!

You may know or remember, that I have been creative director for Bang! Oxford Science Magazine for a year, contributing to issues 4 through 6 in a purely artistic sense.  Well, for the latest issue, I have taken a bit of a sidestep and an upstep, and have been acting as Editor in Chief for issue 7.  So I’m absolutely delighted to tell you that the fruit of my labours, issue 7, is out now!

Bang! Issue 7

If you would like a paper copy or a PDF, send me an email and let me know.  It will shortly be updated on the newly relaunched website (which is still teething, so bear with!).

In some corner of a foreign museum…

Wow.  So, I know, its been ages.  But that doesn’t matter.  I’m back now.  Woo!

Here is something I have had sitting on my desk for a while.  When I was in Washington DC for the NASA Exobiology 50th Anniversary symposium last year (blogged about here), I also spent some time poking around the Smithsonian Natural History museum’s collections.  I was actually poking for a reason – to look for referenced type material that I could image.

However, beyond discovering how fantastically cryptic the museum collections are, and how very few people have any clue to the whereabouts of these valuable scientific materials, my researches didn’t turn up much.  Except this:

Rifling through a drawer, looking through examples of likely algal carbonaceous fossils Chuaria and Beltina, I found an envelope marked ‘Unpublished Drawings, Beltina danai.  Walcott’.  The Walcott is Charles Doolittle Walcott, who is widely credited for discovering  and bringing into the scientific spotlight, one of the most famous Cambrian lagerstatte, the Burgess Shale.

Inside the envelope were twelve small pieces of paper, each with an intricate pencil drawing of a single unique fossil of Beltina.  They are beautiful.  As someone who appreciates the power of good illustration in science, and good illustration as good art itself, it was like opening an envelope to find a bottomless supply of gold.  These drawings, as well as being impeccably implememented, are a piece of history.  Here, tucked away in a corner of some forgotten drawer in a rarely visited corner of the museum, are the fruits of a great scientist’s labour.  The pencil strokes, the careful shading – I would love to know what Charles Doolittle Walcott was thinking when he drew them.  Did his mind wander to shreds of memory, reliving fieldwork, discussions, romantic liasons?  Or did every new stroke focus a theory on these fossils themselves.

No longer will they be hidden, unpublished and forgotten.  Beltina, still unresolved to this day, deserves this artistic outing at the least.

That’s probably enough dramatic and romantic prose.  I hope you enjoy these beautiful drawings as much as I did, and still do.

Bang! Issue 6 out now

With my artistic hat on, I am lucky enough, three times a year, to be involved in Bang! – the Oxford Science Magazine, as Creative Director.

If someone had told me last year that I would be Creative Director of a fab cool magazine with a 5000 copy print run, I would have laughed at them, been quietly impressed, and then asked what a creative director was.  Which is exactly what happened.  Over the last 12 months, I have gradually (sometimes in huge learning curves) found out what a creative director is, and I have made Bang! my creative baby.

My third issue (issue 6) has just come out, and this is my shameless plug for you to get hold of it, read it, and tell all your friends about it!

Bang! is the face of science in Oxford, and in the forseeable future we aim to make it bigger and better with talks, events, and an active web presence.  Watch this space!

You can look at the PDF by clicking on the front cover above, or in my Creative Spawn section (where you can also find previous issues).  If you would like a copy, drop me an email and I can post away!


p.s. The current Bang! website is under rennovation, but can be found at