This wonderful coloured etching is by William Heath, from 1828, and it’s in the Wellcome Collection Library. This was one of the images that started us off on our Water Folk trail. We both like the idea of something tiny and overlooked being given prominence through projection or careful study.
One of our other inspirations was Agnes Catlow’s Drops of Water; Their Marvellous and Beautiful Inhabitants Displayed by the Microscope (1851), which is a beautiful and unscientific text written in celebration of a drop of water. Here’s a quote from the introduction:
“My readers must fancy themselves spirits, capable of living in a medium different from our atmosphere, and so pass with me through a wonderful brazen tunnel, with crystal doors at the entrance. These doors are bright, circular, and thick, of very perculiar construction, having taken much time and labour to bring perfection. A spirit named Science opens them to all who seek her, and feel induced to enter her domains. At the end of the tunnel we find other portals, much smaller, and more carefully constructed, and two or three in number; when these are opened, we are in a new world spoken of. And now I see your astonishment: your minds are bewildered with the variety of new beings and forms you behold, all gliding and moving about without noise and at perfect ease.”
Isn’t it brilliant?
Emily and I are getting ready to open the crystal doors. Tomorrow is our first bit meeting with all the project partners.