Images of nature and disaster

Ruffled Lemur, taken from

I blogged a couple of weeks ago after visiting the National Museum in Cardiff about my love for botanical drawings and today there’s a beautiful slideshow on the BBC news site entitled Images of Nature. It’s well worth checking out (click here). I was disappointed to be too early to see the exhibition when I was in London last weekend, but it’s a permanent exhibition so there’ll be plenty more opportunities. Just don’t visit on a Saturday unless you’re accompanied by your own army of small, enthusiastic children!

If you’re in London and on a culture trail you could also check out the recently opened Edward Burtynsky exhibition at the Flowers Gallery entitled ‘Gulf Oil Spill and Pentimento’.  Yes, it’s photographs of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill which doesn’t sound appealing but for some reason it works.  I find that quite often what is considered a ‘good’ photograph in photojournalism is actually one that depicts something controversial; war, famine, disaster, but may not actually show any artistic qualities such as positioning, lighting or composition.  Good photojournalists rise above the controversial and also provide an artistic experience, and Burtunsky is one of them.  Perhaps it is because his background is not in the journalistic field.  His work is current, descriptive and often reactive, but of wider themes and situations than a single news story.  Yet he travelled to the Gulf of Mexico during the disaster and rose above the pandemonium (literally as well as creatively) to photograph stunning aerial shots that not only document the event but provide great examples of photographic composure, symmetry and power.  I haven’t been to the gallery but just seeing his work online is inspiring.  I don’t want to say it’s something beautiful from something tragic, because no photograph comes even close to easing the suffering of those involved, but beauty should be appreciated as such, and his work really is.

picture: Oil Spill #2, Discoverer Enterprise, Gulf of Mexico, May 11, 2010
Chromogenic print

The lowdown:
Images of Nature will open at the NHM on the 2st Jan 2011 in a newly renovated gallery.  It will contain a permanent exhibition of modern and historic works of art plus temporary displays which will change annually.  Entrance to the gallery is free and more information can be found on the NHM website,

Gulf Oil Spill and Pentimento by Edward Burtynsky is showing at the Flowers Gallery from the 12th January – 5th February.  As well as the oil spill there will also be a group of Polaroid negatives shot in the Chittagong Delta, Bangladesh.  For more information visit:


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