Late-night visitors wowed by the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition
We had the biggest turn-out for Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year at After Hours so far this season on 29 January, and as many people went to visit the Darwin Centre on the night. All of which was great to see.
At his sell-out event in the Darwin Centre's Attenborough Studio (left), Jonathan Renouf, series producer of BBC Two's illuminating How the Earth Made Us gave us a diverting account of the making of the 5-episode series. It's about how our human history has been shaped and developed by the planet’s elementary forces.
The footage Jonathan showed included arresting film from the ‘Fire’ episode with the likeable and enthusiastic presenter, geologist Iain Stewart, in a special fire-proof suit walking through a wall of orange fire. Jonathan told us how, out of shot, a horde of firemen and fire equipment stood ready to douse Iain as he walked through the flames - it being particularly dangerous if he fell over. His fire-protective suit was so heavy, he’d have been unable to right himself. Other fascinating shots were those from ‘Wind’ taken from the peak of Mt Connor in central Australia, which pulled right up to the atmosphere to show the immense wind forces that circulate the mountain. He also told his fascinated audience how a succession of shots were taken by helicopter and then stitched in with satellite images. And how, if you looked very carefully, you could see the join! I’ve looked several times at these shots on BBC iplayer and I still can’t see it. The film clips worked brilliantly in the studio as they are so immersive. Jonathan also brought along a nice surprise for us - some very amusing outtakes from the series, which the audience loved.
Other Darwin Centre hotspots included the Climate Change Wall (right) just outside the Attenborough Studio. And up in Cocoon, another great communicator, our entertaining curator of arachnids, Jan Beccaloni, attracted quite a crowd in front of the glass-fronted specimen preparation area. It was great to see people engaging so enthusiastically with science on a Friday night out. Showing the public our behind-the-scenes science is of course one of the driving factors behind the Darwin Centre, but that people are doing this as an evening-out experience is really fantastic.
Explaining that she was behind glass because of pest control requirements, Jan was working on British arachnid specimens destined for the new Angela Marmont Centre. She had, as promised, also brought along an example of the world’s biggest spider, as well as a black widow and a scorpion. ‘I feel I may have erred in not pointing out these are not British,’ said Jan jocularly, as her audience measured up mentally the goliath bird-eating tarantula in the large specimen jar beside her.
There are only two more late openings of Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year this season on 26 February and 26 March. So do book your tickets well in advance to avoid disappointment if you want to see this year’s competition winners after hours.