This is is perhaps one of the most important teapots in astronomy, it’s the teapot used to brew and serve tea during Cambridge’s Institute for Astronomy tea breaks. Much of scientific research in the UK is fuelled by the consumption of large amounts of tea, and the tea break is an an important ritual in research life there. In fact, one of my first experiences in astronomy was as a work-experience student at the Armagh Observatory sometime in the 1980s. I was most impressed by the tea-break! I never saw so many people together discussing such obscure and interesting topics. I think that was the moment I realised that I wanted to be an astronomer.
Walking past one of Paris’ most famous landmarks, I noticed this shadow on the street…
I took a few photographs at the Chris Marker show at the Cinémathèque. I was particularly interested in the cabinet where photographs of Marker and his family were assembled. It was interesting to see them; as I mentioned in my article, Marker was a private individual. When asked for his photograph, we would invariably send a picture of his cat. So I certainly wanted to take a picture of this display. All those Chris Marker photographs in the same place! But there was a man who was examining the photographs very intently. After he heard the click of my shutter he turned to me and said, I am looking at these pictures so closely because this is my family! He explained that Marker’s family was essentially divided into the mother’s side and the father’s side, and the latter side didn’t care so much for art, culture and cinema. Perhaps this was one of the reasons why Marker so rapidly changed his name. Anyway, this fellow was interesting character, and it was nice to talk to him.
After reading about Eugene Atget’s life I was more than little be interested to visit once again the parks and gardens he photographed in. They are almost all still there and have not changed much. In the last hundred years in Luxembourg gardens they have changed the chairs, but that’s about it.
St. Cloud is an interesting place. It’s easy to get to from here, around half an hour by bus from Porte d’Orleans. There was once a palace there which burned down during the Prussians war at the end of the 19th century. On one side there is the Seine; at the beginning of the 18th century this location was a favoured spot for country houses for rich Parisians. The village of St. Cloud today is quite picturesque. Unfortunately, today it hemmed in on all sides by motorways and elevated flyovers and one is never far from the rumble of traffic. But the park is still intact, and one can still walk rom the town to the park without crossing a motorway. Inside the park, in fact, one can walk for miles, and there are even forest trails, as much as one could hope for in the middle of an enormous city.
The statues that Atget photographed are still there. I brought with me a roll of slow, fine-grained film (still much faster than the film Atget used of course). I took pictures with my Leica. Certainly, there is no way a small portable camera such as a Leica can produce anything like an image from a heavy view camera, but at least there were no pixels involved, and I tried to imagine the photographs I was taking before I took them. There is still a special feeling in this park (I think I prefer it to Sceaux) and I’ll try to return there more often.