Tuesday, 30 June 2009


I’m trying to sort out some Church things and blog them but Hockney is on the box. He’s talking about his Yorkshire project. He’s just amazing. His art is so varied and he constantly explores new ideas and new media. If you’re quick you can download three originals from bbc.co.uk/imagine. In the programme he paints a vast treescape for the Royal Academy (he just asked for and got the largest wall in the Summer Exhibition – how’s that for influence?) It was painted on 50 canvasses – but he used digital technology to develop and assemble the separate pictures into one. He announced it as the post-photography age... but the program ends with the news that he is now taking photographs of Yorkshire.

Do try to catch the programme again on the BBC Iplayer.

I remember seeing him on TV many years ago in the early days of digital imaging. There were a series of programmes where they gave artists the latest technology to play with. This was simply a way of drawing on the screen. Most found this difficult or uninteresting but Hockney was fascinated. I always remember the comment ‘of course anyone looking at this at home will have an original Hockney for a few minutes’

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Bucks Open Studios

Bucks Open Studios appeared on Friday’s You and Yours on BBC Radio 4. Our local artists Douglas Keeling (High Steet), Mary Orrom (Rignall Road) and Adrian Payne (Little Hampden forge) were interviewed. You can listen to the broadcast here. The Bucks Open Studios runs to the end of this week – details at http://www.bucks-open-studios.org.uk/.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

In touch and out of touch

It has struck me over the last few days how much in common the two big news stories have – the Iran elections and the publishing of the MPs’ accounts. We are hearing that the opposition supporters in Iran are keeping ahead of the authorities using the latest internet communications – facebook and twitter. This is the only way they can be heard in a country which apparently has restrictions on freedom of the press and information.

Now look at the freedom we have here at home: the press is free and we have a freedom of information act. But look what we get. The full list of MPs’ expenses has been published but was first redacted. Redacted? Is that really a word? My spell checker recognises it. I’ve just googled it – and found there was a film released in 2007 called Redacted. On reviewer said “it could be the worst movie I’ve ever seen” and it grossed $25,628 on its opening weekend (Titanic took $28,638,131.) Not surprisingly, there’s a lot of debate about the word currently, but it doesn’t appear to be generally used till now. My OED defines it as ‘put into literary form, arrange for publication’ and literary is defined as ‘of... written composition esp. of the kind valued for quality of form.’ Not really the word I’d use to provide clear information about anything.

Do MPs and the parliamentary office believe that publishing this information in this form will help? And looking at some of the details of the expenses – both the official redacted (!) figures and the leaked ones in the press – do they really think they are reasonable? How out of touch!

You can see the redacted expense claims for all MPs at here.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

The physics of rainbows... and IM Pei

Yesterday’s rainbow prompted me to look again at how rainbows are produced.

Spherical raindrops act as a prism to split the white light from the sun into the different coloured elements with red refracted slightly less than violet which is at the other end of the visible spectrum. The red bow of the rainbow is at an angle of about 40 degrees from the direction of the incoming sunlight. The violet bow is about 42 degrees. The secondary rainbow (just visible on the photos outside the main one) is reversed and at 50 to 53 degrees.

There are some good explanations of the physics on the web – some references below. Neither is very clear on why the reflection/refraction is optimum at the 40/42 degree angles: I think the internal reflection from the back of the raindrop is at a maximum at this angle but the applet that allows you to vary the incident angle of the incoming sunlight doesn’t make this clear. I’ll have to do more research.




While looking at the last of the above links, I clicked on the home page – the (US) National Center [sorry!] for Atmospheric Research. The building, near Bounder, Colorado, a reflection of the surrounding ‘Flatiron’ rocks, is designed by IM Pei. Pei designed the Louvre pyramids in Paris and a similar design that I worked in for a short while at IBM Somers. Although ‘modern’ (it was built in the early 1960s) the NCAR building seems to fit in well. Why can’t we be braver about our buildings?

Monday, 15 June 2009

Rainbow at Little Hampden

Tonight’s thunderstorm was followed by a break in the clouds and a wonderful rainbow.

Friday, 12 June 2009

A present from Dawa

Mary, who was with us this week at Bourton-on-the-Water has been running a charity – Midwifery with Altitude – to help mothers and babies in the high Himalayas. You can see more on Mary’s web site www.mwacharity.com. We’ve been helping a little. Dawa, Mary’s translator and local contact sent us this wonderful Tibetan tent as an token of his thanks.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Ceiling repairs

Little Hampden Church is not the only one needing ceiling repairs. Hagia Sophia is also having some work done. I don’t think we’ll need as much scaffolding here! The good news is that we now have all the authorisations needed and work should start next week.