Sunday, November 20, 2011

the last month...

In the last month so much has been happening I have not managed to keep up at this blog. When I first arrived in the UK on September 29th I kept commentary going on my blogs. That tailed off during the three weeks spent at the Millennium Seed Bank ... life became busier with each passing day. I have so many images and stories still to tell from that alone.

I left there on October 31st and settled for two weeks in London ... and hit the ground running to fit in all the places on my itinerary. I've yet to write that all up so I'll simply post some images here and make a point of returning to post as I sort through it all.

I squeezed in a two day trip to Paris Nov 6th and 7th and last week travelled home via Korea where I spent three fascinating days exploring Seoul... soon realising how much there was to explore if only time permitted!

Pages from my journal that I worked on at the MSB.

Images of x-rays of seeds that I used as basis for these two quick drawings. Staff working in this area were most helpful ...sharing information and images which they photocopied for me.

drawing of seed species at Kew MSB

Plant fossil drawing - Darwin Centre

In London I visited the Natural History Museum at South Kensington and spent an afternoon at the Darwin Centre on the left of the original Museum. 

Within the Darwin Centre is the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity ... open to anyone with an interest in UK natural history. Read more here about visiting this centre. 

(Text from the NHM website: )

Angela and Tony Marmont and the team at the Centre for UK Biodiversity
It is a hub for amateur naturalists, enthusiasts and other societies studying British wildlife. A place to investigate all aspects of the natural world, from animals, insects and plants to fossils and minerals. 
The centre responds to people’s concerns about UK biodiversity by taking a lead in the national citizen science debate.

What the centre offers

  • an identification and advisory service
  • a fully equipped visitor space for your own research
  • access to our UK reference collections and UK natural history library
  • workshop and meeting room facilities
  • hands-on resources and nature surveys

These photos are from the afternoon when I visited the Angela Marmont Centre ... drawing plant and seed fossils.

 I relished being able to go behind the scenes to view the fossil collections and make notes and drawings.

Kew Gardens
I also made appointments to spend time with staff at Kew Gardens Archives viewing the Art Collection on the fist visit and another day in the Archives where I had permission to photograph pages like the two entries below from journals belonging to Allan Cunningham, a Plant and Seed Collector in Australia in the early years of the English settlement. I will post further on the very rewarding experience at Kew Gardens.

Links from Kew Gardens Website:


Allan Cunningham (13 July 1791 – 27 June 1839) was an English botanist and explorer, primarily known for his travels in New South Wales (and elsewhere) to collect plants.



[from Wiki]

It was a challenge to photograph this material with my small camera... so I have picked two pages which were somewhat legible.

This one below itemises a long list of plant and seed collections made during his lifetime. Its a remarkable story in the light of the difficulty of travel, where he journeyed and what he managed to find. New Zealand was an important destination... he was the first collector to go there. Considerable time was spent around Brisbane, Moreton Bay and on the Darling Downs he is remembered as discovering the potential of that land for farming which proved right and prospered as a farming region in time.

Other fascinating places I visited around London I will discuss in other postings. Stay tuned.

Allan Cunningham 1791-1839

back soon with more...

But in case you are interested here's more on the collections at the MNH:

The Natural History Museum's vast collections comprise more than 70 million specimens from across the natural world, including specimens from the voyages of discovery by Darwin and Cook, material from the ill-fated dodo and meteorites from Mars. They cover virtually all groups of animals, plants, minerals and fossils, and include skins, cells on slides and whole animals preserved in alcohol. In total there are…
  • 55 million animals, including 28 million insects
  • 9 million fossils, including one of only six specimens of Archaeopteryx - the earliest known flying bird
  • 6 million lichen and plant specimens including algae, diatoms, ferns, mosses and seed plants
  • more than 500,000 rocks and minerals
  • 3,200 meteorites
The Museum also houses the world's finest natural history library. It is the largest collection of natural history library materials in the world and includes…
  • more than 1,000,000 printed books
  • 25,000 periodical titles
  • 500,000 original drawings, paintings and prints. This is the third largest collection of art in the UK!
  • 10,000 manuscripts
  • 75,000 maps
More than 850,000 'type' specimens are present in the Museum's collections. Type specimens are of great value as they are the unique representative of a species and the first specimen to earn the species name. Whenever the species comes under review, scientists will refer to the type for answers.
Technological advancements have meant that as well as traditional collections, the Museum is also home to cell and tissue cultures, DNA banks and other molecular records. These provide taxonomists with the means to conserve and study the genetic biology of plants and animals.


Heavens2Betsy said...

Your travels have certainly been productive and exciting in every sense possible. I can't wait to see your journals in progress as you write up your adventures. We live very near to Darwin's house - and, I have yet to visit. It is on my hit list! I am so fascinated by your work. pen xx

Valerianna said...

ooo... amazing work, love the top drawing, well, and many. Lovely to have you visit RavenWood today, glad you're back and blogging around! Look forward to more bits on your trip, so exciting.

Also, I see an image of one of those amazing Omo people's body art over there in the side bar, aren't they AMAZING? I'm just blown away by them, I show my students and they love them, too.

Blessings from the forest!

Carole Reid said...

Sophie! I am truly amazed at what you've seen and accomplished in this past month!

Carole Reid said...

Is your book available again? I'd love to buy a copy.

Velma Bolyard said...

when i look at your post, i am so excited about how you are approaching this information, how MUCH it matters.

Gloria Freshley Art and Design said...

Hi Sophie!! So wonderful to read that your time away has been so fulfilling! I love all of these drawings and paintings! Colors, shapes, forms. . . I look forward to seeing more about what you've been experiencing. Thank you for this post! Gloria

Sophie Munns said...

Oh... I forgot to say thank you to all yu good people for popping in and leaving these great comments. Its so hard to focus on one's return ....everything is clammering for attention ...
Thankyou and I shall be in touch.

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