Category Archives: Photography

“This guy tied hundreds of balloons to his house & travelled to South America to find a bird – that is why I am awarding him a bigly honour”

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May 24, 2017 · 5:38 pm

The Silly Hat Brigade

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Sir Herbert Samuel, seated centre, with Jerusalem church leaders and British officials, 1922.

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In the Service of the big wigs

The annual Judges’ Service takes place at Westminster Abbey to mark the start of the ‘Legal Year’ (think Michaelmas pre-term university bop, just without the plastic cups of vodka and vomit). It’s a wonderfully bonkers occasion when the legal bigwigs come out in force to ask for Divine guidance in their judgement.

This year’s service was on Monday, and in his Bidding, the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, said modestly that, “we acknowledge our high calling to reflect the justice and mercy of God.” The law lords then merrily went back to handing down ASBOs, pondering legal jurisdictions, and transporting orphans who steal the occasional loaf of bread. Or whatever it is they get up to day-to-day.

This best bit of the whole occasion is how underdressed the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, The Right Honourable Liz Truss MP, looks without a wig. Obviously, it’s all an arcane excuse to potter about in an enormous wig. Perhaps not the most sensible way to run a legal system if you ask me, but at least God is on board with it all.

legal-wigs

truss

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The Green Dragon Hotel, Hertford

The Green Dragon

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April 18, 2016 · 3:57 pm

Iran’s ‘Colossal’ Ceilings

I have posted before about Robert Byron’s description of the Sheikh-Lotfollah’s mosque in Esfahan, Iran, in his Road to Oxiana.  I am yet to travel to Iran, but long to visit the country and explore its architectural splendours. For the time-being however I can read, use my imagination, and explore them through the internet.

One element of their design captures my imagination above all else… the intricately tiled iwans and ceilings, often featuring complex tessellations and honeycombs. Last night I came across a fabulous collection of photographs of them here on the ‘This is Colossal’ website. Well worth a look, but must be even better to see with one’s own eyes.

Sheikh-Lotfollah’s mosque in Esfahan

Of the interior if the dome Byron wrote “I know of no finer example of the Persian Islamic genius than the interior of the dome: The dome is inset with a network of lemon-shaped compartments, which decrease in size as they ascend towards the formalised peacock at the apex… The mihrāb in the west wall is enamelled with tiny flowers on a deep blue meadow. Each part of the design, each plane, each repetition, each separate branch or blossom has its own sombre beauty. But the beauty of the whole comes as you move. Again, the highlights are broken by the play of glazed and unglazed surfaces; so that with every step they rearrange themselves in countless shining patterns… I have never encountered splendour of this kind before.”

But as fans of this genre of architecture, can you tell me where the ceiling shown below can be found?Mystery roof

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Shackleton’s bookshelf

Books on Shackleton’s bookshelf:

  • Encyclopedia Britannica
  • Seven short plays by Lady Gregory
  • Perch of the devil by Getrude Atherton
  • Pip by Ian Hey
  • Plays: pleasant and unpleasant, Vol 2 Pleasant by G B Shaw
  • Almayer’s folly by Joseph Conrad
  • Dr Brewer’s readers handbook
  • The Brassbounder by David Bone
  • The case of Miss Elliott by Emmuska Orczy
  • Raffles by EW Hornung
  • The Grand Babylon Hotel by Arnold Bennett
  • Pros and cons: a newspaper reader’s and debater’s guide to the leading controversies of the day by JB Askew
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • The Woman’s view by Herbert Flowerdew
  • Thou Fool by JJ Bell
  • The Message of Fate by Louis Tracy
  • The Barrier by Rex Beach
  • Manual of English Grammar and Composition by Nesfield
  • A book of light verse
  • Oddsfish by Robert Hugh Benson
  • Poetical works of Shelley
  • Monsieur de Rochefort by H De Vere Stacpoole
  • Voyage of the Vega by Nordenskjold
  • The threshold of the unknown region by Clements Markham
  • Cassell’s book of quotations by W Gurney Benham
  • The concise Oxford dictionary
  • Chambers biographical dictionary
  • Cassell’s new German-English English-German dictionary
  • Chambers 20th Century dictionary
  • The northwest passage by Roald Amundsen
  • The voyage of the Fox in Arctic seas by McClintock
  • Whitaker’s almanac
  • World’s end by Amelie Rives
  • Potash and perlmutter by Montague Glass
  • Round the horn before the mast by A Basil Lubbock
  • The witness for the defence by AEW Mason
  • Five years of my life by Alfred Dreyfuss
  • The morals of Marcus Ordeyne by William J Locke
  • The rescue of Greely by Commander Winfield Scott Schley
  • United States Grinnell Expedition by Dr Kane
  • Three years of Arctic service by Greely
  • Voyage to the Polar Sea by Nares
  • Journal of HMS Enterprise by Collinson

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Super Exhibition Saturday: Ice & Diamonds

All you London based culture vultures might want to check out two interesting exhibitions in our fair capital over the next month or so.

The first is called ‘Enduring Eye: The Antarctic Legacy of Sir Ernest Shackleton and Frank Hurley‘ at the Royal Geographic Society. The Enduring Eye exhibition will open to the public on Saturday 21 November, exactly 100 years to the day that the crushed Endurance sank beneath the sea ice of the Weddell Sea, and run until 28 February 2016.

The RGS website describes how, as one of the first truly modern documentary photographers and film-makers, Australian born Hurley hoped to have his images seen at as large scale size as possible. 100 years later, this intention will be honoured with giant dimension prints, some over 2 metres in width and height, at the heart of the exhibition, providing viewers with a sense of awe and wonder.

In addition to the newly digitised images, the exhibition will include a number of ‘precious survivors’ – personal artefacts that were carried through every stage of the successive journeys for survival from the Weddell Sea to Elephant Island and onto South Georgia.

The second collection of objects of wonder can be found in The Victoria and Albert Museum’s ‘Bejewelled Treasures‘ exhibition, which also opens to the public on Saturday.

More than 100 objects owned by Sheikh Hamad Bin Abdullah Al Thani, a member of the Qatari royal family, have been loaned to the V&A for the show, which explores 400 years of Indian jewellery. It is being exhibited as part of the museum’s India festival.

As well as the objects from the Al Thani collection, our Queen has lent three pieces from the crown jewels including the spectacular “Timur ruby”. This ‘ruby’ is a source of much intrigue since it was never actually owned by Timur and is not even a ruby. (It is in fact a very large, 352-carat spinel, a type of red stone found in Badakhshan.)  The spinel was owned by Jahangir in the 17th century, and in 1851 it was given to Queen Victoria after the British annexed the Punjab. It seems a trifle odd to me to have your country ‘annexed’ only to then send a whacking great jewel to your new Empress, but it’s a nice touch.

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Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 17.36.10

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