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David Attenborough {hero}

I’m sitting in the Bahamas, looking out on the caribbean sea, waiting for my friends to arrive – and then I’ll get to go diving and see some of the natural world I’ve not seen before. As I sit here, I’m listening to my hero talking about why what I do is important – why writers, tweeters, bloggers, all of us, “have a responsibility to tell it how it is”, to spread the word about the natural world to the half of the people on the planet who now live in cities, away from all this beauty. So I wanted to share this video with you. He speaks so well and is such a huge inspiration.

David Attenborough talking at Resource 2012

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From the walls of the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition to the online galleries of Behance, it has been an incredible week for being inspired by the quality and variety of the creative talents of artists all over the world.

Behance is a site which allows you to ‘Showcase and discover the latest work from top online portfolios by creative professionals across industries’. I thoroughly recommend spending some time wandering through these cyber-galleries. I guarantee you will find work which speaks to you.

There I discovered the work of Cally Whitham, a photographic artist from New Zealand. Her work transforms mundane and ordinary subjects in to romantic, dreamlike images. In her own words: ‘[Cally’s] work identifies aesthetic value where none appears apparent and invites viewers to reflect on our rural beginnings.’

These images are from her series entitled Flight. Something in the texture and colours of the images, the composition and tone, make me feel very peaceful. I wanted to share that with you.

See more of Cally’s work on her website and on Behance.

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Mola mola – a work in progress

I began this screen print of a sunfish (aka Mola mola) over a year ago. It’s my first and so far only screen print. It is also the largest print I’ve ever made (at around a half metre wide).

The image began as two charcoal drawings on thick tracing paper. I chose charcoal because I wanted to create a dynamic, smudgey, scribbling depiction of what many people say is an ugly fish but I think is quite beautiful in its bizarre shape and immense size (my picture is probably at least a quarter as big as these guys are in real life).

Making this print taught me that while the technique can produce intricate and exciting results, the process is long, complicated, messy, and involves a lot of harsh reagents and ingredients that (as a fish hugging marine conservationist) I wasn’t too thrilled about tipping down the drain.

Compared to the other printing methods I’ve experimented with over the past few years, it produces by far the most consistent prints – I guess that’s one of the major reasons for doing screen prints over anything else. While there is some scope for mixing ink colour, there is none of the messy wiping of etchings or collographs nor the ‘ahah’ moment when you pull the paper back to see what you’ve made. Once you’ve made the screen, you can make clean, identical prints over and over again.

The two screens I used to make this image are still sitting in the print workshop and I’m still wondering what to do with them next. Should I add another dimension to the image? Should there be more going on?

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Shed dreaming {a place to find ideas}

I have a thing about sheds. I have done for a long time. When I was little, I went through a phase of trying to persuade my dad to let me clear out the garden shed and set myself a little art studio in there. It never went that far, but I did sometimes squeeze in between the lawn mower and spades and perch with my sketch book in the gloom.

I’m not exactly sure what it is that I like so much about sheds. It probably has something to do with having a little, separate space, away from everything else where I can plot and scheme and think. I also love the idea of walking, come rain or shine, down to a nook at the bottom of the garden. If I believed in fairies, I expect they’d be there too.

Since moving into our house in Cambridge and settling into freelance, home-working life my office is the spare room (although I really want to start calling it my study, or even my studio but somehow I keep on calling it my office). And I’ve dreamed about building a studio at the end of our little garden. I’m sure we could fit one in down there. Our garden is narrow and not-so long, but two houses down our neighbours have a garden studio, built in green wood with a window in the roof. The thing is, we’ve grown to love our garden, we’ve worked hard on transforming it from a featureless expanse of cement blocks and bare soil to a green space with wild pond (complete with a family of frogs) and raised beds where we grow salad and beans.

I couldn’t bring myself to put indoors back into our cherished outdoors space. So I think, for now, I will have to keep on dreaming, plotting and scheming for the day when I will tiptoe down the garden path on my way to work.

Photograph: Eric de Maré. ‘Skyscraper’ fishermen’s sheds, the Stade, Hastings (1956).

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The warmest place the sun ever shines

A finger’s touch upon my lips
It’s a morning yearning
Pull the curtains shut, try to keep it dark
But the sun is burning

The world awakens on the run
And will soon be earning
With hopes of better days to come
It’s a morning yearning

Another day, another chance to get it right
Must I still be learning
Baby crying kept us up all night
With her morning yearning

Like a summer rose, I’m a victim of the fall
But I’m soon returning
Your love’ s the warmest place the sun ever shines
My morning yearning

- Morning Yearning by Ben Harper

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