The Butterfly Effect

 

 

COLOUR AND VISION & THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM

"Through The Eyes of Nature"

 

The Natural History Museum's new exhibition, "Colour & Vision" features many wonders of nature. To demonstrate how colour is often a warning they use the cinnabar moth as an example:

 

"Orange stripes, red spots and black mouths are all warning signs that an animal is dangerous. Poisonous and venomous animals often warn off potential predators with dramatic colours and markings." Colour and Vision

A display of Cinnabar moths at the Natural History Museum's new exhibition "Colour & Vision"

A display of Cinnabar moths at the Natural History Museum's new exhibition "Colour & Vision"

I first encountered a cinnabar moth when I was on my way to the studio in Manchester a few years ago. The bold black and red patterns of the little winged insect caught my eye so I took a photo of it and looked it up. The patterns are so striking it had a real impression on me. I wanted to try and capture it in a ring, so it really a "Moth Effect" rather than a "Butterfly Effect"!

The patterns of the wings of the Cinnabar Moth inspired this red and black ring

The patterns of the wings of the Cinnabar Moth inspired this red and black ring

Image of Cinnabar Moth courtesy of Charles J. Sharp Photography

Image of Cinnabar Moth courtesy of Charles J. Sharp Photography

 

The larvae of the cinnabar moth eats the leaves of the ragwort plant making themselves and the adult moths they become poisonous. The red colour warns predators not to eat them as doing so could be fatal.

 

Red = DANGER

 

The cinnabar moth is actually named after the bright red mineral cinnabar, which is also poisonous.

A form or mercury sulfide, this mineral is highly toxic.

The mineral Cinnabar, used for making vivid red pigment

The mineral Cinnabar, used for making vivid red pigment

When ground it is used to create the pigment "Vermillion". Treasured for its vivid hue, it is the only red pigment that was known to the ancients. Vermillion was revered by the ancient Romans. They even used it to paint the faces of their victorious commanders during the "Roman Triumph" Ceremony.

Because pure cinnabar was so rare, vermillion became immensely expensive and the price had to be fixed by the Roman government at 70 sesterces per pound - ten times the price of red ochre.

The figure is a lady harpist, painted in vivid pigments by the Ancient Romans and recently found in Arles.

The figure is a lady harpist, painted in vivid pigments by the Ancient Romans and recently found in Arles.

The image above shows a fragment of Ancient Roman Fresco recently unearthed in Southern France, the colours still vivid after spending 2000 years buried in the dark. The use of the expensive red pigment shows how wealthy the inhabitants of the villa were.

You can read more about the history of this red pigment with Windsor & Newton's "Spotlight on Vermillion".

 

Shivering Mountain

Last Thursday I went on a field trip to Castleton with Manchester Museum. The purpose of the outdoor adventure was to try out a new app which would give geology students instant access to information from experts via videos, figures and readings. I had my smart phone with me so I could see how it worked for myself. It was quite straight forward, and would be even easier if you were used to augmented reality apps although it's probably best shown on a tablet to make the most of the multi-media features.

A view of Castleton from Mam Tor

A view of Castleton from Mam Tor

Mam Tor means "Mother Mountain" possibly due to it's breast shape but also as it appeared to have "given birth" the other mini hills around it, in reality caused by landslips due to unstable layers of shale lower down. This also led to the moniker; "The Shivering Mountain".

A noble sheep

A noble sheep

One of the features was "Beneath Your Feet" showing a map of the kinds of rock making up the area around. By accessing your camera function (which does sap your phone battery so charge up!) the view in front of you appears with markers showing points of interest you could choose to click on, accessing videos, commentary and maps. This will allow instant access to localised information whilst out and about. This technology is easy to keep up to date and add to, unlike textbooks and abandoned websites. The alternative would be carrying around huge educational tomes or having to print out current figures on lots of bits of paper to faff about with (which would have been impossible on Mam Tor which was sunny but VERY WINDY). 

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Beneath Your Feet: here are some of the rocky slabs that make up the steep path.

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This old path looks quite serene and well-trodden, like a natural part of the landscape. In contrast this huge crack in the abandoned road further along our journey clearly shows the layers of tarmac of recent years in futile attempts to patch up the constant deterioration caused by the landslips aggravated by heavy lorries from the quarry.

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I enjoyed getting out in the fresh air with a really nice bunch of people and the view from Mam Tor was amazing, from far and also near if you looked closely. Part of the route was interspersed with some really nice metal markers displaying it's Iron Age history as a fort.

Face of the Sun God "Lugh"

Face of the Sun God "Lugh"

Torque

Torque

Urn

Urn

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Here is a site featuring Blue John, a precious mineral only found in some special areas in Derbyshire. This area was originally full of sea creatures, and fossilised chrinoid specimens can be seen in the rock. Examples of chrinoids were brought along by Manchester Museum's Curator of Earth Sciences Collections, David Gelsthorpe.

Chrinoids clustered together on the left

Chrinoids clustered together on the left

Chrinoids in Castleton rock

Chrinoids in Castleton rock

The museum has many specimens from this area. It is rich with finds having been a route for animals such as bison in ancient times.  It was great to see them in the places where they could be originally found and discuss them and learn in situ. 

his trickle of oil you can see under the grass is the product of the ancient sea-life remains that would have lived here. Combined with the maternal name and visible changes and movements, it really seems as if the rocks here are alive, and I think the aim of the app will be to animate the science and information learned from them in the same way.

castleton oil ooze.JPG

 To learn more about the rocks and fossils collections of Manchester Museum (and lots of other interesting stuff), David Gelsthorpe has his own curator's blog you can check out here.  Another good blogpost on this trip can be found at MancOnlineThere's always great stuff on at the Museum, so to keep your eye out for more events like this check out their website here. If you join their mailing list too, you can be the first to know!

Goldsmith's Rocks Exhibition

I am so happy to be exhibiting at this fantastic geological jewellery event which starts tomorrow at the Goldsmith's Centre in Clerkenwell, London.

This gorgeous necklace on the poster is by one of my fave jewellers, Imogen Belfield! My own jewellery box has one of her little golden nuggety rings in it.

This gorgeous necklace on the poster is by one of my fave jewellers, Imogen Belfield! My own jewellery box has one of her little golden nuggety rings in it.

Rocks, minerals, meteorites, they are all a big inspiration for me as well as the geological processes that create the world around us on a big and small scale. The piece I chose to show at the exhibition is my Malachite Green Hewn Ring.

Hewn Ring Malachite Pyrite Jade Mellor.JPG

It combines some of the techniques I have developed in resin to evoke the naturally occurring patterns of mineral formations, as well as featuring inclusions of golden pyrite nuggets.

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Here's some more on the exciting events that the Goldsmith's Centre will be running:

"From 21 May we're taking part in Chelsea Fringe - a festival celebrating and encouraging us all to engage with our landscape, gardening and the natural world. As part of the Fringe we are creating our own rock garden (sponsored by Indoor Garden Design) in the atrium, surrounded by work from jewellers and goldsmiths' whose inspiration comes from geological formations.

We don't stop there, come and enjoy some of the events that we have alongside the exhibition…

LIFE DRAWING WITH LONDON DRAWING

Tuesday 21 May: 6.30 - 8.30pm
£10 in advance or £12 on the door. Supplies are available to buy at the class.

This is the first of our monthly life drawing classes to be held in our Exhibition Room and will have a special Rock theme! Book through London Drawing's Website.

BLING PONG

Thursday 23 May: 11am - 9pm
Donations Welcome

Show us your sporting prowess and indulge in your artistic side with the most
creative table tennis you'll ever play. Beat your colleagues and friends at our
table tennis table and use the ping pong balls to create your own piece of
contemporary jewellery. Our experts will be on hand to make sure you have this
season's must-have bling to wear!  Send pictures of your creations to us on Twitter and you'll be in with a chance to win lunch in our Café.

When you've exhausted your talents, recoup with lunch or after work drinks in
our café.

NEWTON'S APPLE - POP UP PLAY ON THE CAFÉ TERRACE

Thursday 23 May: 12:30pm and 1.15pm
Free

Have you ever fallen in love in a tree? Liminal Space's five minute play is
about two people who do, and then come back down to earth. Grab some lunch, sit back and enjoy.

FAMILY FUN DAYS


Friday 31 May 12pm - 5pm &
Saturday 1 June 10am- 4pm

Scratch Patch will range from £2 - £5

Other activities - Donations Welcome

Climb into our Scratch Patch - a sandpit filled with gemstones and learn about the different types of rocks used in jewellery. Pick your favourite, see them being polished by our very own Lapidary, Steve Stavrou and create your own gem stone jewellery to take away."