The Diatomist

Science art

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A forgotten art

Diatom arrangement, an art-form and hobby once popular in the Victorian era, has now all but vanished. Meet Klaus Kemp, acknowledged as the last great practitioner of this forgotten art.

Diatoms form a major group of single-celled algae, which encase themselves in jewel-like shells of glass which Victorian microscopists would arrange into intricate patterns. Kemp has devoted much of his life to practicing this art form, searching in seawater, gutters and puddles for his tiny subjects. Film-maker Matthew Killip documents Kemp’s dexterous handiwork, and shows us how, although invisible to the naked eye, the diatom “explodes into a picture” through the microscope.

Themes

Natural World, Materials

Details

Type:
Documentary
Published:
2014
Filmed:
2014
Credits:

Matthew Killip