Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Public Events’ Category

Writing a poem seems to be a mystery for many people, and it is indeed an act of creativity by those who are able to observe the world within or around them and to perceive it in a new way. A poem can be about anything, from old love memories to a crawling bug; it is about capturing a feeling that you have experienced. However, it’s hard to know where you should start. Helen Clare, a freelance writer and poet from Manchester, presents a possible approach to how to write a poem on the basis of, say, a visit to the Manchester Museum. If you want to know how to write a poem, this story is for you.

Below you can listen to the poem narrated and presented by Helen Clare. The printed text of the poem can be found here.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

One of the aims of our field work in Iceland was to visit the areas with the native forest of Downy Birch (Betula pubescens). We’ve visited several places with the birch forest, for instance, the site in the southern shore of the Lake Myvatn and the forest along Logurinn fjord in eastern Iceland. In both places the forests were full of edible mushrooms, and I could not help myself and collected some, which then we cooked and eat together. Here are the photos or some of those edible mushrooms we encountered during our trip.

Milky Mushroom (Lactarius resimus), or ‘Груздь’ in Russian, is considered a delicacy in Russia and some other countries of Eastern Europe when pickled in salt.

Milky Mushroom (Lactarius resimus), or ‘Груздь’ in Russian, is considered a delicacy in Russia and some other countries of Eastern Europe when pickled in salt.

Slippery Jack (Suillus luteus), one of the most popular edible mushrooms; especially tasty when pickled.

Slippery Jack (Suillus luteus), one of the most popular edible mushrooms; especially tasty when pickled.

Woolly Milkcap (Lactarius torminosus).

Woolly Milkcap (Lactarius torminosus).

The Brown Birch Bolete (Leccinum scabrum) is typically used in soups and also commonly added as a component of mixed-mushroom dishes. Very delicious when fried with onion in soared-cream, as we did in Iceland.

The Brown Birch Bolete (Leccinum scabrum) is typically used in soups and also commonly added as a component of mixed-mushroom dishes. Very delicious when fried with onion in soared-cream, as we did in Iceland.

More information about each mushroom can be found online at the following links: Milky Mushroom (Lactarius resimus); Woolly Milkcap (Lactarius torminosus) or here; The Brown Birch Bolete (Leccinum scabrum) or here; and Slippery Jack (Suillus luteus) or here.

Read Full Post »

While travelling from the Town of Stykkishólmur to the Town of Grundarfjördur (road No.54, along the northern coast of Snaefellsnes Peninsula), about half-way, we came across a road sign depicting a shark (see on photo). The information desk below this sign said that there the place Bjarnarhöfn is named after Björn Ketilsson from Norway who settled in here around 900AD and also that there is one of the oldest churches in Iceland built up in 1856-59. Being puzzled we immediately turned to the place and were not disappointed.

The road sing and the building of the Shark Museum at Bjarnarhöfn, Iceland

The road sign and the building of the Shark Museum at Bjarnarhöfn, Iceland

What we found there was one of the most eclectic Museums I’ve even seen, the Shark Museum. The Museum contains all sorts of objects related to every-day life of a small fishing farm in Iceland: anything one can image from the kitchen tools or a gramophone of the early 20th century to taxidermy of Icelandic variety of chickens and models of Viking or more recent fishing boats. However, the main story was about shark fishing and the production of shark meat. The guests of the Museum are met by the friendly curator and owner, known as the famous ‘Shark Man’ Hildibrandur of Bjarnarhöfn. Details of the shark fishing industry (mostly on the large local Greenland shark – Somniosus microcephalus) in Iceland were shown on a big screen, and all the kinds of relevant fishing equipment, from the shark-fishing boat to harpoons and fishing nets, were exhibited on the walls and display cases. Shark-liver oil was once an important export commodity for Iceland. The shark meat was cured with a particular fermentation process to make the notorious Icelandic delicacy known as hákarl (see also here).

The boat and equipment needed for fishing the Greenland shark; the Shark Museum at Bjarnarhöfn, Iceland.

The boat and equipment needed for fishing the Greenland shark; the Shark Museum at Bjarnarhöfn, Iceland.

A variety of museum objects reflecting an every-day life of a shark-fishing village in Iceland, plus something else; the Shark Museum at Bjarnarhöfn, Iceland.

A variety of museum objects reflecting an every-day life of a shark-fishing village in Iceland, plus something else; the Shark Museum at Bjarnarhöfn, Iceland.

We were able to visit the drying house where shark and fish meat is hung to dry for four to five months before use. Shark meat (hákarl) and dried fish (harðfiskur), as well as nice pieces of traditional Iceland knitting, could be purchased from the Museum. We also found out, the owner offers individual/personal guided tours of the Museum. Unfortunately, as he does not speak English, a personal tour was not an option for us.

Drying of shark and fish meet; the Shark Museum at Bjarnarhöfn, Iceland.

Drying of shark and fish meat; the Shark Museum at Bjarnarhöfn, Iceland.

One of the oldest wooden churches of Iceland built up in 1856-59; Bjarnarhöfn, Iceland.

One of the oldest wooden churches of Iceland built up in 1856-59; Bjarnarhöfn, Iceland.

We were more than impressed by the Shark Museum (and the old wooden church, see on photo below), as what we saw was a true authentic story of the life of an individual shark-fishing village told by those who have been involved in their family business for generations. I am sure that the content of this Museum sooner or later will become an essential part of a National Museum of Icelandic Culture and Lore, should such museum be ever organized in Iceland.

Dmitri Logunov (the Curator of Arthropods at the Manchester Museum) and the owner of the Shark Museum,  Hildibrandur of Bjarnarhöfn.

Dmitri Logunov (the Curator of Arthropods at the Manchester Museum) and the owner of the Shark Museum, Hildibrandur of Bjarnarhöfn.

Read Full Post »

During the field trip to Iceland, we have visited many places of interests, including of course pebble-beaches on sea shores made of  grey, smooth basalt pebbles.

Grey basalt pebbles on the sea-shore of western Iceland (Londrangar, Snaefellsnes)

Grey basalt pebbles on the sea-shore of western Iceland (Londrangar, Snaefellsnes)

To my surprise, the same pebbles can be found on shelves of many gift- or craft-shops that are available virtually in every hamlet, village or town of Iceland. However, the pebbles in shops are nicely hand-painted, representing examples of mini-artworks, often naive but always touchy (see on the photos below). In one shop the painted pebbles were crafted as ladybirds of various shapes and colours (from yellow and green to the traditional red-coloured beetles).

Lovely ladybird crafted from pebble, NW Iceland.

Lovely ladybird crafted from pebble, NW Iceland.

I don’t know whether it is indeed a national Icelandic tradition to hand-paint pebbles, such craft is suitable to everyone, from children to enthusiastic adults, allowing everyone to become a master of own mini-masterpiece. Someone called this the ‘beach stone craft’; further instruction and inspiration of this craft can be found here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Han-painted pebbles with diverse wishes, craft festival at Hrafnagil near Akureyri, NW Iceland.

Hand-painted pebbles with diverse wishes, craft festival at Hrafnagil near Akureyri, NW Iceland.

A collection of artworks (=painted pebbles) produced by students of a local primary school on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Natural History Museum in Heimaey Island.

A collection of artworks (=painted pebbles) produced by students of a local primary school on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Natural History Museum in Heimaey Island.

Read Full Post »

On the second day of our field trip to Iceland, we visited the interesting site lying in the southern municipality of Reykjavik, called Garðabær, which literally means ‘Garden Town’. We walked around the beautiful Lake Urridavatn surrounded by boggy meadows full of sedge, dwarf bushes (like blue berry) and cotton grass (see on the photo).

Boggy meadow with cotton grass (left) and the blue berry bush (right) near Lake Urridavatn in Iceland

Boggy meadow with cotton grass (left) and the blue berry bush (right) near Lake Urridavatn in Iceland

On the meadow side of the path to the lake we found a plastic cup thrown by someone a few days ago. Incidentally, the cup, which was partly filled with rain water, became a deadly trap to insects and spiders. Having inspected the content of the cup I found two specimens of crab spiders (Xysticus sp.; male and female), one specimen of the ground beetle (family Carabidae) and one harvestman (family Phalangiidae). So, the cup ‘worked’ exactly in the way as true pitfall traps (see also here) that are used by scientists for ecological surveys. A poor thinking or maybe carelessness of someone who threw this plastic cup away instead of dropping it into a waste bin resulted in some casualties of minibeasts. Throwing a plastic cup (or any unwanted plastic item) away is hardly seen as a great deal or an action causing any threat to wild life. However, my short and simple story seems to say otherwise. In simple words, it reminds us that recycling waste is essential to both natural environment and humans, minimizing an unnecessary risk of damage to the environment and helping out our planet be a better place to live in. More about recycling can be seen here and here.

The plastic cup that became a deadly trap to a number of minibeasts near Lake Urridavatn in Iceland. See also a short video below.

The plastic cup that became a deadly trap to a number of minibeasts near Lake Urridavatn in Iceland. See also a short video below.

 

Read Full Post »

Being fascinated by a range and diversity of Manchester Museum’s galleries and exhibitions, many of our visitors want then to visit a particular Museum’s store in order to know more about the collections deposited behind-the-scenes and/or people working there. The Manchester Museum’s Entomology store retaining some 2.5 million specimens of insects is a usual place for visits not only by specialists-entomologists but also by art, design or photography students. Photographic reports resulting from such visits are always welcomed by the staff, as they show how different maybe a visitor’s view compared to what we can think of as a usual place and/or routine practice. Here is a short report received from one of our visitors, George Burgess, a first-year photography student, who visited the Entomology store in late Nov 2013.

“For my first-year photography assignment I was producing photograms – images made without a camera – using bugs. On a visit to the museum, Dmitri’s display in the Manchester Gallery caught my eye and I wanted to know more. It was really interesting to visit the department and see how everything is labelled and the large quantities of insects.”

View of the entomology store and one of our reference collections of British butterflies

View of the entomology store and one of our reference collections of British butterflies

There are hundreds of store-boxes containing thousands of undetermined insects; Dmitri, the curator, is holding a draw of undetermined parasitoid British wasps

There are hundreds of store-boxes containing thousands of undetermined insects; Dmitri, the curator, is holding a draw of undetermined parasitoid British wasps

Besides insect collection, the Manchester Museum's Entomology department retains archive originated from the people who used to work in the Museum or who donated their collections

Besides insect collections, the Manchester Museum’s Entomology department retains related archives that originated from the people who used to work in the Museum or who donated their collections

Read Full Post »

The Museum staff, both the curators and members of the education team, is involved in various public and outreach programmes. Here is a brief report on one of such events that was organized and run by Dmitri Logunov, the Curator of Arthropods, and David Penney, a Honorary Lecturer in the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Manchester, at the St Edwards CE primary school (Castleton) on the 6th of June 2013. This school has been selected as one of the North West Eco-Schools Ambassadors 2013-2015.

The report has been kindly prepared by Mrs T Duffield and Miss L Pierce, the teachers who were also involved and who took the photographs presented here.

“We thoroughly enjoyed our visit from David and Dmitri, and were fascinated by the specimens they brought to show the children. There was a healthy balance of live and fossilised specimens, both of which the children were encouraged to closely observe as well as handle. As the children are only 4 and 5 there were lots of questions, all of which were answered at an appropriate level for their age. The children were extremely excited about handling the live creatures. Even those children who are often apprehensive to try new things were keen to have a go.  In the afternoon we were invited to partake in an insect hunt with professional insect catching instruments. This really captured the children’s interests and they were very enthusiastic about sharing and talking about their findings. All in all this was a wonderful, unique experience for our children and we would definitely be interested in repeating the visit next year.”
 
Mrs T Duffield/ Miss L Pierce

Handling a hissing Madagascan cockroach

Handling a hissing Madagascan cockroach

Handling a Giant Millipede

Handling a Giant Millipede

What in the box? Looking at one of the insects catched during the bug hunt

What in the box? Looking at one of the insects catched during the bug hunt

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »