Beetles! Pins, more pins, and perfect shapes.

Hello! This post is part of my Natural History Museum series – I’ve been lending my photography skills to the ‘Coleoptera section of the Terrestrial Invertebrates Division’ (which roughly translates as ‘beetles department’). I will be sharing my favourite images with you every week, so stay tuned!

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This week I want to show you some pins. Yes, pins. Have you ever looked at museum specimens? If so, you may have noticed that they’re perfectly laid out, with their six wiry limbs in a neat, symmetrical arrangement – see above. Unfortunately, this does not happen by magic. It is done with pins, and lots of precision.

Helena-Maratheftis-beetles-pin-cages-04Before specimens go on display, they are soaked in alcohol and left to dry while in a ‘cage’ of pins. Think of these pins as scaffolding, holding everything in place. I know I’ll be called a crazy artist (again) by the people in the department, but I think the cages look quite beautiful! Sort of like crowns of thorns, or rays of light beaming out. Here’s my artistic representation:

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Helena-Maratheftis-beetles-pin-cages-06The final product, after the pins have been removed:

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P.S. I know some of you are squeamish about insects, so I’ve been trying to only publish pictures of the pretty ones. The problem is, I think they’re all pretty ones! I hope you agree – and please let me know if you don’t!

Beetles! Photographing Glow Worms at the NHM.

Hello! This post is part of my Natural History Museum series – I’ve been lending my photography skills to the ‘Coleoptera section of the Terrestrial Invertebrates Division’ (which roughly translates as ‘beetles department’). I will be sharing my favourite images with you every week, so stay tuned!

This week I photographed glow worms. You might be surprised (and relieved?) to hear that they’re actually beetles, not worms! Some of the specimens at the museum are truly beautiful, with ridiculously long and elaborate antennae.

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The above specimen is special for two reasons. Firstly, because of those antennae. Secondly – and more importantly – because it is a type specimen. In other words, this particular individual is the ‘flagship’ specimen by which all others of its species are verified. The species’ name and description are officially attached to this one beetle, making it very precious indeed.

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Some of the specimens are very old, and I love the delicate, typewritten (or hand written) labels.
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Stitch Birthday Party @ The Red Gallery

Hello! I’ve been working with Stitch for a while now, and I’m excited to announce our birthday party plans!

‘On Friday 29th March Stitch is hosting a very special event to celebrate their 2nd birthday: bringing together five of the best nights that London has to offer under one roof, to create one hell of a party and planting a target minimum 10,000 trees with the proceeds. This is partying with a purpose.’

Click here for tickets & more details. 

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Date: 29th March 2013

Venue: Red Gallery, 1 – 3 Rivington Street, Shoreditch.

‘A percentage of every pound spent at the bar and from ticket sales goes towards planting trees with partner WeForest. WeForest is an international organisation dedicated to sustainable reforestation. Money raised from this event will go towards their tree planting project in Ethiopia which is geared towards stopping soil erosion and empowering single mothers and widows to be self-sufficient and pay for medical care.’

p.s. I should point out that I did not design this poster, which is a shame because it’s very good-looking.

Beetles! Behind-the-scenes photography at the NHM.

Hello! I spent yesterday at the Natural History Museum, lending my photography skills to the Coleoptera section of the Terrestrial Invertebrates Division (which roughly translates as ‘beetles department’). I was presented with a jewel box of Tanzanian beetles, and was asked to take close-up portraits for their beetle database and. I was also given free reign to take as many ‘arty’ shots as I liked! Let’s just say I was in heaven. Most of the ‘literal’ shots will end up on the NHM Beetles and Bugs Flickr page, so I’ve mostly included creative photos here. Enjoy!

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Helena-Maratheftis-coleoptera-beetles-07From this angle, it looks like a tiny dragon! (‘You arty people love your weird angles, don’t you!’)

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Helena-Maratheftis-beetle-pattern2I couldn’t help but create a pattern out of these gorgeous, flame-hued beetles.

Helena-Maratheftis-beetle-pattern1 Helena-Maratheftis-beetle-pattern3I love the subtle variations in shape and pattern. Nature is just too cool.

Helena-Maratheftis-coleoptera-beetles-04Real entomologists wear beetle earrings. Continue reading

Plants, Paints and Portraits.

Hello! Last Thursday afternoon, I found myself with a bit of free time. I decided to get my paints, brushes and pens and do some doodling. By dinner time I was feeling quite pleased with myself, and I tacked a couple of the paintings (drawings?) onto the shelf behind my mirrors. I’m very sorry about the face I’m pulling. I can’t help myself sometimes.

I scanned one of the drawings and added some more colour, digitally. I quite like all the clashing colours and patterns.

My new house has a lot of plants in it. I think I was inadvertently inspired by the colour palette on my table: Green leaves, yellowish wood, and dark pink berry juices.

Below: My green lady and my furry oregano plant. They’re a good match.

Another drawing on the floor / another shot of my glamorous slippers.

And, lastly, my beautiful lavender.

THE END.

Weekly Inspiration: Rain, Patterns, and A Giant Fish.

Hello! This is a weekly feature where I share my photos with you. I carry my camera everywhere, and I’m always taking pictures of things that inspire me. Prepare to see lots of colours, patterns and good times through my lens!

This week, London was rained on. A lot. However, I managed a trip to East London, and the Natural History Museum for Science Uncovered.

First up, here’s my face through a teleidoscope (which is not the same as a kaleidoscope).

The Natural History Museum is one of my favourite places in London. Ain’t it grand?

A coelocanth is a very large fish, and is often called a ‘living fossil’.

The leftovers of an autumn downpour.

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‘There Is No Planet B’: Stitch Calendar Competition.

Hello! I work with Stitch Project, and we’re inviting artists and photographers to submit images for a 2013 calendar. The calendar will raise awareness for our planet as well as funds for charities.

Stitch is looking for images that relate to the environment and that highlight how unique and special our planet is: work is to be submitted under the title “There is No Planet B.” This can be interpreted however the artist sees fit.

 To enter, click here. Deadline for entries is October 12th, 2012.

This competition is open to both amateur and professional photographers and artists, and we’re hoping to see entries from all over the world. Good luck!

A Poster Against Badger Culling

Hello! Do you know what badger culling is?

A quick summary: many wild badgers are infected with tuberculosis, and they transmit the disease to cows. This costs UK cattle farmers millions of pounds a year. In a bid to eradicate tuberculosis from cattle, thousands of badgers were culled (i.e. slaughtered) in the 1990s. Unfortunately, this did not stop the transmission of tuberculosis, because the issue was not as simple as scientists originally thought.

Unfortunately, despite strong scientific evidence against culling, the UK government is now licencing farmers to cull badgers again. As usual, my response was to pick up a paper and start drawing.

I’m not writing and drawing about this from an animal welfare perspective (although I do love me a cute little badger). Nope. I’m writing this as someone who studied biology and wrote a research project on this very issue, just a few years ago. I find it very interesting, and I find it ridiculous that culling is about to recommence.

If you’d like more information on this topic, watch this video with David Attenborough.

If you’d like to see an end to badger culling, please sign the petition.

Weekly Inspiration: Summer colours in my camera.

Hello! This is a weekly feature where I share my photos with you. I carry my camera everywhere, snapping pictures of things that inspire me. Prepare to see lots of colourful and heavily-patterned things through my lens!

London was very hot last weekend. Consequently, there are two photos of my feet in this batch. I hope that’s not a deal breaker! I like this batch of photos because of the nice balance between urban and natural shots.

A mid-week tea with pin-ups in Hoxton. As you do.

A shimmering Sunday in St. John’s Wood.

Nothing is more joyful than a rainbow of fruit.

…Speaking of fruit and colour, my friends have this gorgeous tree in their back yard.

And now for something more sharp and urban. (Yes, this was taken in the toilets.)

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‘Cod Save The Sea’: Illustrating The Rodnik Band for Amelia’s Magazine

Hello! These are fashion illustrations for Amelia’s Magazine. I drew two looks from The Rodnik Band‘s collection for ASOS, entitled ‘Cod Save The Sea‘. The clothes are playful and colourful, but there is substance behind the idea: The collection is inspired by the Environmental Justice Foundation‘s work to end illegal ‘pirate’ fishing.

The feature on Amelia’s Magazine was written by Maria Papadimitriou, and can be found over here. Check it out!

‘Focus on Nature’: A Photography Exhibition by Stitch

Hello! Here’s something for all you Londoners:

I’ve been working with Stitch to help organise a photography competition, called ‘Focus on Nature’. The show will be opening tomorrow, May 15th, on Portobello Road. The gallery will be open from 10am-6pm daily, but there will also be a couple of late night events – if you’d like to attend those, make sure to check out the Facebook event and RSVP!

Stitch is a non-profit organisation that spreads environmental awareness through artistic events. Through a £5 donation for entering the competition, Stitch will be raising funds and awareness for two fantastic organisations, Back2Earth and Butterfly Conservation.

I hope to see you there!

Jungle of Colour: A Private Commission

Hello! I’ve just finished working on a very colourful and highly detailed piece. The brief was to create ‘a woodland landscape with animals/figures doing stuff.  And the landscape features trees … which don’t necessarily have to look realistic. I am thinking colourful and vibrant’. That was literally the brief, word for word, and it was right up my street. Here is what I came up with:

As you can see, I decided to create a lush, tropical forest canopy, filled with dozens of little characters. It’s hard to see the details here (the canvas is huge – 120 x 80cm) so I’ve zoomed in on some of my favourite bits:

I started off by painting stripes onto canvas, then layering on branches and leaves. When that was complete, I got to work on all the animals. I love adding all the details, down to tiny caterpillar eyebrows (above) and curly proboscises (below):

So, to summarise: Fluoro colours, gold ink, rhinestones, and stylised little beasties. It’s a Thefty piece, through and through!

I hope you like it, Miss C!