Tag Archives: Matt Denton

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition

Matt Denton's Mantis Robot, part of the Winchester Science Festival 2014
Matt Denton’s Mantis Robot, part of the Winchester Science Festival 2014

As I made my way to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, currently showing in the gallery of the Winchester Discovery Centre, I was startled to come across a mantis. Not an insect, but rather a massive, six-legged robotic walking machine designed by Matt Denton, founder and chief designer of Micromagic Systems. This unexpected encounter seemed like an appropriately fitting preface to an exhibition exploring how we attempt to capture nature.

The images in the exhibition have been selected from 43,000 entries by an international jury chaired by Jim Brandenburg. The quality is, not surprisingly, extremely high.  Each photograph on display in the large, well-lit and air-conditioned space is captioned with information detailing not just how each picture was taken but also the wildlife caught by the lens.  A lovely way of engaging with the varying interests of viewers.

Michael 'Nick' Nichols, The President's Crown
Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols, The President’s Crown

Technically speaking there is some astonishing work here, like Michael Nichols‘ award-winning The President’s Crown. This giant from California’s Sequoia National Park carries a load of some two billion leaves. Nichols’ photograph of it digitally combines 126 images. It took a year to plan and seven months to shoot – an impressive undertaking, yes, but then the tree itself is 3,200 years old! Also remarkable are the contributions of various young photographers, including in the 10 years and under section.

Jasper Doest, The Netherlands, 'Snow moment'
Jasper Doest, The Netherlands, ‘Snow moment’

Among some really striking and beautiful images are Snow Moment, winner of the Creative Visions prize.  Jasper Doerst has captured a Japanese macaque jumping in a mysterious swirl of snowflakes or Richard Packwood’s ‘The greeting’ (Nature in Black and White) which could almost be a line drawing.

The exhibition isn’t sugar-coated. Some categories encourage us to think more deeply about our relationship with the environment. There are moving and serious images like, for instance, one of a shark with a hook in its jaw or Brent Stirton’s powerful and upsetting view of the ivory trade.

You don’t discover the over-all winners until the end of the exhibition. This is as it should be. Each photograph deserves to be enjoyed in its own right and, really, the idea of choosing the ‘best’ from such a wonderfully varied, sometimes touching selection must have been quite a task. Do go and immerse yourself before 21st September, when the exhibition closes. The images, however, will linger long after that in the mind’s eye.

Cost: free

Helen Paskins is a Winchester-based professional orchestral and chamber musician who has worked with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the BSO and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. 

The Winchester Science Festival

Matt Denton's - Mantis Robot
Matt Denton’s – Mantis Robot

Fancy seeing Winchester engineer Matt Denton‘s two tonne Turbo Diesel-powered Mantis robot – the biggest all-terrain operational hexapod robot in the world? Or how about deconstructing the Hat Fair with Dr Ken Farquhar as he explores the science behind juggling, circus and the like. Perhaps you’d like to launch into some rocket science with Lucy Rogers?  If you haven’t already guessed, Winchester is readying itself for a scintillating science-tastic take-over at the Discovery Centre 25-27 July, with the return of the annual Winchester Science Festival, launched in 2012. The festival will feature science, music, comedy and hands-on exhibits all weekend with plenty on offer for the whole family.

The Ugly Animal Preservation Society
The Ugly Animal Preservation Society

Friday’s programme is geared towards younger science fans. Terry Harvey-Chadwick’s Fire Show at 10am will feature some explosive demonstrations with his brand of ‘fun science’. At 11am, step-aside Superman, Channel 4’s Simon Watt will be taking a closer look at genetic mutations and revealing that we might be closer to the X-men than we thought with his talk ‘Mutants. What Are they Like?’. Winchester Science Centre’s Alex Boxley will be talking us through the universe at 3pm and at 5pm award winning Dr Mini Saaj will be exploring Nature-Inspired Robots For Science & Medicine. Adults can pop along in the evening to Frogs and Friends, a comedic talk with The Ugly Animal Preservation Society’s professor of comedy, Simon Watt. And its worth noting that all the festival evening events are for 15s and over.

Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell
Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Saturday’s programme starts at 10am when Dr Radu Sporea assisted by Andrew Pye will lead us in a participatory look at modern photography with hints and tips for practitioners. At midday, Dr Jock McOrist will be making the elusive String Theory accessible for everyone. After lunch there are two opportunities to listen to the extraordinary astrophysicist Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell. To round off the day, Bright Club Guildford will present an evening of comedy, music, art, research, science and performance. On Sunday, budding Bear Grylls‘ can take a journey into the extremities with Prof Mike Tipton exploring physiological and psychological responses to harsh environments. Sally Le Page will be leading us on a lighthearted romp through the bizarre world of animal sex lives with Secrets of Sex. The festival reaches its climax with Being 747, where science meets music in a pop rock group inspired by the work of David Attenborough.

The Mobile Planetarium
The Mobile Planetarium

Various exhibits will be on offer on-site throughout the festival, including the Mini Professors, free group science sessions for pre-schoolers with songs and experiments. The Soton Astrodome c/o the University of Southampton will be running a mobile planetarium hourly all weekend from 11.15am. Shows are free but advanced booking is advised. The National Oceanography Centre will be bringing along the PufferSphere, a glowing 2m digital globe, which shows complex climate and weather systems.

Ticketed talks are available online with SEE Tickets  where you can book a full festival pass, daytime or evening passes or just for specific talks. Children accompanied by an adult go free all weekend and there are some free events in the programme. For full programme listings which may vary visit winchesterscifest.org.

Winchester Science Festival
Winchester Science Festival

Winchester Science Festival is run by the not-for-profit Winchester 
Science Foundation who aim to champion and celebrate science with the public, raise the profile of women in science, promote science education and science communication and raise the awareness of Hampshire science.