Departure lounge ramblings on music, places, climate change and stuff outdoors

Gazing on the cosmic plughole

I wonder if Brandon Yoshizawa knew that the exhaust plume of a Falcon 9 rocket would take on the shape of a flower as its hot discharge made contact with colder air of the upper atmosphere? He was certainly in the right place at the right time and with the requisite skill to capture an extraordinary image. The result, Flower Power, is a perfect example of the blend of art and science that makes the annual Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Greenwich National Maritime Museum so special. 

The Festive Fifteen 2019

December is here, which means it is time for the annual markontour Festive Fifteen.  As usual, there’s nothing to do with Xmas here, and there has been so much great music this year that I have yet again failed to whittle my list down to fifteen tracks. But, caveats aside, herewith The Festive Fifteen of 2019..

London’s still calling forty years on

In a vital and captivating free new exhibition the Museum of London is celebrating forty-years since the release of London Calling by The Clash. It’s an album that is both precisely of its time and yet timeless, a spirit that the curators (working with the surviving members of the band) have managed to capture perfectly. Markontour has visited twice already in its first week and I’m sure I will be back a few more times before it closes in April.

Becoming the Forest

On the top floor of a Tudor hunting lodge at the edge of Epping Forest, something both strange and enlightening happened this weekend. “On All Hallows Eve, when the veil between the living and dead is at its thinnest” Becoming the Forest, and installation by Norwegian artist, Una Hamilton Helle, invited visitors to “take part in an audio journey celebrating the oncoming winter, populated by the voices of forest dwellers past and present, including the trees themselves.”

Destination Moon

“If you want to write a song about the human race / Write a song about the Moon” sang Paul Simon, a decade after Neil Armstrong became the first human being to set foot on land beyond the Earth, and so begins the National Maritime Museum’s ‘Moon’ exhibition. Despite having much sympathy with Gil Scott Heron’s more contemporaneous lyrical critique (“I can’t pay no doctor’s bill / But whitey’s on the Moon”), I can’t help continuing a life-long fascination with the Moon and the 1960s Space Race, and so a trip to this exhibition was somewhat inevitable. And it was worth it…

Green-robed senators of mighty woods

This week has been all about oaks, Keats’ “green-robed senators of mighty woods”. In Richard Powers’ extraordinary novel, ‘The Overstory’, the collaborative endurance of the quercus genus is counterposed to the transient destruction of homo sapiens. I had been eking the book so that I could finish it on holiday surrounded by trees, rather than tower blocks, and so yesterday I allowed myself to turn the last page after a wonderful autumnal stroll around the Glanusk Estate in the Brecon Beacons, made all the more magical by being able to enjoy it with my parents.

Colours of the hills and fields in Hamburg

I have become a regular visitor to Hamburg this year, as it is a convenient stopping off point on the train journey from London through to Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo, where work takes me frequently. Usually I arrive late and leave early, but recently I discovered what I had been missing, after an early doors trip to the Hamburger Kuntshalle gallery. Most exciting were the landscapes of Caspar Friederich, an artist I had never previously encountered, but whose ‘Hill and Ploughed Field Near Dresden’ now lights up my soul every time I turn on my iPad.