Indeed it does: hoarding Jaguar 1 Jaguar 2 Jaguar 3 Harrier, with feathering pattern on wings Feathering on Assyrian beast from Nimrud Nereids, I think Taking flight: Doug Miller 1 Taking flight: Doug Miller 2 Incoming: Kecia and Alex
Weird concatenation as I write this: our new neighbour is laughing her woefully irritating laugh and, at exactly the same time, a magpie is making its grating sound at the bottom of the garden. The two have a great deal in common, though on balance I infinitely prefer the magpie.
A fairly fractured week, ahead of flying to India this evening, involving a mixed bag of meetings and events, plus finishing off a range of writing tasks. Yesterday, though, I got to the end of a series of tasks and found I had nothing immediate, so Sam and I took off for the Tate Britain, to see the Henry Moore exhibition. Loved some of Moore’s notebook pages – and adored the final selection of four great reclining figures carved from elm.
On the way in to the Tate, we were very taken with the Harrier jump-jet suspended from the roof – and the Jaguar fighter burnished to a shine and up-ended on the floor. Astonishing sculptural effects achieved by the artist, Fiona Banner. Initially thought the patterning on the Harrier’s wings was the result of vortices in flight, but then seemed much more likely that they were painted on. Today, I was looking again at the giant Assyrian human-headed winged lion statues in the British Museum – and was struck by the similarity with their feathering.
This evening, Elaine and I took Alex and Kecia Barkawi at the Court Restaurant in the British Museum. Lovely evening, with choral concert under way alongside the Elgin Marbles. An opportunity to show Alex, who is half-Egyptian, the extraordinary Rosetta Stone. Found myself comparing the survival of what those long-ago Egyptian hieroglyphic carvers had achieved with the unintelligible scrawls that the Harrier and Jaguar would have left in the skies during their flying days.
Earlier in the day, I had headed across to SustainAbility, for a meeting with Geoff, Gary and Doug Miller of GlobeScan, to discuss various possible co-ventures. It has also been a very busy week at Volans, with a steady stream of visitors passing through, the sofas occupied much of the time. And an interesting moment more or less mid-week when the various elements of the work we are doing suddenly jumped to a different level in the collective brain. Pregnancy pressing in on two fronts at the moment, but considerable progress being made.
But have been reading the extraordinary book Poseidon’s Steed: The Story of Seahorses, by Helen Scales, as I have beetled around the city by Tube – with my cycle in for a major service these past two weeks. (The nereids I photographed in the British Museum were mythologically linked to Poseidon.) And the scale of the damage Helen Scales reports to the ecology of our oceans and seas has left me quite depressed about the prospects for anything like sustainability beneath the waves – with the appetite for marine life growing furiously and much of that demand in parts of the world where the broader environmental agenda has yet to strike root.
I remember my sister Caroline being given a dried and glazed seahorse mounted on a rock in Eilat in 1959, the only time I have visited Israel. At the time I was excited to see the creature; now it’s hard not to feel that the impending extinction of so many seahorse species is an ecological form of the writing on the walls at Belshazzar’s feast, foretelling the fall of the Babylonian Empire.