Category Archives: Visits



I took the day off on 23 September for TEDxAlbertopolis. Following a leisurely snack lunch at South Kensington and a flying visit to the Cast Gallery in the Victoria and Albert, I headed up Exhibition Road to the Albert Hall.

The first TEDx event ever held at the Royal Albert Hall, TEDxAlbertopolis will be an afternoon of inspiring, thought-provoking and entertaining talks exploring how art and science fit together in the modern world.

In sum, I was disappointed. Live, TED talks lose the intimacy of watching a close-up video and the audience was mainly very young and in groups – lots of six formers and exchange students from Albertopolis campuses. And I made the mistake of going on my own; so no enlightening conversations for me.

The schedule was as follows:

Session 1 – Seeing Things Differently


  • Deirdre Murphy – The Industrious Boy
  • Julia Lohmann – The Power of Seaweed
  • Max Barclay – Beetles: Pinning Down the Secrets of Life
  • Nicholas McCarthy – Sole Determination

BREAK 15:00-15:45 – Activity spaces

Session 2 – Making Things Happen


  • Jess Thom – Tourette’s Syndrome: The Alchemy of Chaos
  • David Braben – Rules Can Be Beautiful
  • Hannah Redler – We Do Not Know: Uncertainty, Art and Science
  • John Halpern – Dances With Words
  • Andrew Shoben – The Vanishing Music Box

BREAK 17:15-18:00 – Activity spaces

Session 3 – Shaking Things Up


  • Sally Davies – The Drugs Don’t Work
  • Ryan Francois – Planet Swing: The Real Harlem Globetrotters
  • Kieran Long – Collecting the present
  • Roland Lamb – From the Organ to the Organic: How to be Human in a Digital World

The talks I loved were about making your way against the odds: Nicholas McCarthy, who was born with only a left hand, yet plays the piano to a very high standard; and Jessica Thom who has Tourette’s Syndrome.

The Albertopolis TEDx talks are available online.

A más velocidad semáforo en rojo

Driving in Cantabria, Northern Spain, and the the annoyance of my family, I was really taken with the signage and speed control system used on some C roads.

A más velocidad semáforo en rojo

A más velocidad semáforo en rojo

In advance of a pueblo or barrrio, you approach a sign like above, warning you to slow to 50  km/h.  Further along the road there’s a traffic light – usually suspended over the road. If you’re exceeding 50  km/h, you’ll find it red or turning green at the last minute.

It seemed to be reasonably effective – most drivers slowed and we only saw a few people go through  a red light. But no doubt it’s expensive infrastructure.  I couldn’t find any data about the system.


On my birthday, I took the day off and went to Oxford.

To the Museum of Natural History and then at last to the Pitt Rivers Museum. In the modern extension I found the Visiting with the Ancestors exhibition.

What happens when museum objects go home for a visit? The Blackfoot shirts at Pitt Rivers Museum, collected in 1841, express Blackfoot culture and beliefs. In 2010, Museum staff took them home to Canada for a visit so that Blackfoot people could learn from them and strengthen cultural knowledge and identity. Blackfoot people were delighted to see these important heritage items and were inspired by them. The exhibition includes three of the shirts and quotes and photographs from the reunions with Blackfoot people.

A pity, in many ways that the Blackfoot shirts can’t be restituted to the Blackfoot people.

Lee on Solent

Lee on Solent beach

Lee on Solent beach

Hoverspeed hovercraft at HMS Daedalus

Hoverspeed hovercraft at HMS Daedalus

1930s modernist architecture

1930s modernist architecture

Interior of St Faith church

Interior of St Faith church

A short visit to Lee on Solent whilst Olivia was at Writers Squad in Hedge End. A breezy May morning.

Weird and sad to see the old Hoverspeed hovercraft. I remember many trips from Dover in the hey-day.

Charmed Life: The Solace of Objects



16 February – 14 April 2013

Amulets have appeared throughout history and across cultures in a variety of forms. They are tiny embodiments of the anxieties we feel and their assumed powers often draw on the dark arts of superstition and magic.

Charmed Life is curated by artist Felicity Powell and features 380 amulets from the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford. The amulets, ranging from simple coins to meticulously carved shells, dead animals to elaborately fashioned notes, were collected by the banker and obsessive folklorist Edward Lovett who scoured London by night, buying curious objects mostly from the East End of London.

The exhibition includes new pieces and videos by the artist.

A touring exhibition from Wellcome Collection, London in partnership with Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford.