Coloured Light



Jack and Ronnie
Oil on canvas 35 x 28 cm

The Tree on the Hill
Oil on canvas 35 x 28 cm

Inspired by The Ancients

The Star Carr Pendant
Oil on canvas 46 x 40 cm

Not long after the ice retreated at the end of the last Ice Age, people moved north. Some settled at the edge of a lake in what is now the Vale of Pickering. Somebody drilled a hole in a flat piece of stone, a shale that was not too hard to do this. Perhaps it was to be used as a pendant. And then they scratched some lines into one surface. We don't know why, but it was a deliberate act of mark-making that must have taken effort and concentration over time. It was the earliest known piece of art found in the British Isles. I've copied the patterns that our ancient ancestor made but instead of scratches in a stone I used coloured oil paint on canvas. Because I can.

For more information about the Star Carr Pendant see:
A Unique Engraved Shale Pendant from the Site of Star Carr: the oldest Mesolithic art in Britain bu Nicky Milner et al. Internet Archaelogy 40.

After Lascaux Cave
Oil on canvas 40 x 46 cm

After Laas Geel, Somaliland
Oil on canvas 40 x 46 cm

Sir David King
Oil on canvas 40 x 46 cm

Throught the pandemic, Sir David King, former Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government, has been chairing Independent SAGE, a group of scientists and medics who have been gathering information and providing advice to all who would listen. They have produced a series of reports and have been holding a public conference every Friday, broadcast on the Internet. Here Sir David is looking downcast and despondent, frustrated that the Government persistently refuses to follow the scientists' advice, instead pursuing its politically expedient agenda, resulting in many tens of thousands of avoidable deaths.

The work of William Whewell, polymath, is not as well known as he should be; his contribution to the philosophy of science underpins the work of all climate scientists today. His work on tides speaks directly to a project we are developing. He instituted the first large scale citizen science project, organising the simultaneous recording of tides around the coast, and then, so importantly, collating the accumulated data into a visual form in his chart of tidal isoclines. His innovation, converting a numerical data-set to visual representation, is today taken for granted. It provides a step towards the bridge between science and art. Whewell's Essay towards a First Approximation to a Map of Cotidal Lines, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Vol. 123 (1833), pp. 147-236 can be found here

He wrote:
It will easily be understood that we may draw a line through all the adjacent parts of the ocean which have high water at the same time; for instance, at 1 o’clock on a given day. We might draw another line through all the places which have high water at 2 o’clock on the same day, and so on. Such lines may be called cotidal lines; and they will be the principal subject of the present essay.

Biff Vernon ~ Reprint of Whewell's 1836 cotidal chart, pastel. 48 x 50 cm

Sometimes adding colour to a map makes some features of the data being conveyed easier to appreciate. Sometimes it just makes it look prettier. Here's Whewell's 1836 chart with each of the 12 hourly cotidal zones a different colour.

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Biff Vernon