DIY Planetarium

This week I’ve made a portable planetarium dome using references and instructions from enthusiastic DIY dome builders who share their knowledge online. The dome is for a collaborative project with the IED Masters students from the Exploded Screen elective at Royal College of Art and the Planetarium at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. It is fifteen years since I first designed images in a planetarium but the fulldome projection space remains a joy, so creating this small hemisphere has been a pleasure.

Gore panels were cut to size using this calculator.

Overlocking the cotton lycra panels in the Fashion Menswear studio at RCA.

Fibreglass tent poles make the framework and despite a few nervous moments it fits together beautifully.

Hayden, Kelly and Yasmeen complete the structure with cable ties.

Setting up the projector, thanks to Kevin for his resourceful use of student lockers and to Rob, Ed and Tom from RMG for making it possible.

The Exploded Screen students project fulldome tests during the morning crit.

Running Away with the Circus

After six months of intensive animation, I have had the satisfaction of seeing the live performance of Circa’s Carnival of the Animals. This circus spectacular combines extraordinary live performance with animated moving image in a 40 minute show for children. The work premiered this week at the Out of the Box Festival at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre in Brisbane. The set designs work beautifully, the projection is balanced perfectly with Jason Organ’s lighting design and the performers are genuinely astounding.

Thanks to the Circa team for inviting me to join them on this adventure. And thanks also to Charlie Taylor, Jean-louis Pêcheur and James Baker for their inventive and idiosyncratic contributions to the work. Director Yaron Lifschitz declared this project never promised any sanity and there were definitely moments of madness along the way but ultimately Carnival of the Animals is a beautiful piece of work which deserves a long and prosperous life.

See a full portfolio of images from the performance here.

A Good Craft Day

There is nothing like the focus and hard work of a good craft day to improve one’s outlook during a damp grey October week. Friday upholstery class is good for the soul, the ladies (and two men) make very good company and an excellent cup of tea. After two years, a broken shoulder and many many hours, my chair is almost ready for it’s finishing layer. I have placed an order for a beautiful tweed fabric from the Isle of Bute and next week my chair will begin it’s final transformation. I feel proud of my work and excited by my progress.

Ahh the joys of traditional skills…

A Room of One’s Own

I have just spent the most lovely day in my garden studio. It’s grey and dreary outside but the little pipsqueak stove has valiantly kept the chill at bay. It has been my first day of dedicated PhD research. The starting point for my work is the experience of wonder as a point of intersection between art, science and consciousness and today I’ve been meandering through and mapping some of the possibilities. It is getting very large, very quickly but I am enjoying the sense of expansion it brings.

Thanks to my friend Catherine for this post’s title, stolen from her comment on my previous post about my studio.

Observing Ships and Tractors

The Observer's Book of Ships
Last Saturday saw me meandering through a field in rural Hertfordshire on a family outing to a vintage tractor fair. Despite some misgivings I have to admit I found myself enjoying the event, reminiscing about riding on old tractors around my cousins’ Australian dairy farm in the 1970’s, enjoying the familiar and comforting smell of old car interiors and browsing the bric-a-brac stalls for potential treasures. And then to my great excitement, I came across The Observer’s Book of Ships. What a delightful volume, filled with a bounty of facts and all the information and diagrams any ship observer could require. Further research has shown that this is just one of many Observer’s Books about all number of subjects; Pond Life, Ferns and Cricket to name a few…..


I have blisters and the muscles in my hands feel the work they have done today. I have pushed, pulled, coaxed and stitched two rolls into the arms of my little armchair. It is surprisingly tough work but it is very satisfying spending the day slowing down to traditional craft pace, learning new skills and proudly bringing the chair back to form.