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  • Writer's pictureAnna Curston

24th August 2023

Hello! We once again find ourselves in the pleasure of each other’s company. The end of August is fast approaching and that means that means looking back at what I’ve been doing, and looking forward to the start of a new academic year and the creation of more work. It also means stress…

The ball is officially rolling with the start of my new course drawing ever closer. While I feel in many ways comforted by the fact that things have finally started moving, I am also finding it so frustrating that not all information, and not all tasks, are released for completion/looking over at once. Of course, I understand why this is, a university has thousands of students, I imagine their system would explode if they tried to do it all in one go. I am nonetheless fidgety.


I don’t remember if I had started it when I last posted, but I am a good way in to a new painting. This one is based from the JWST image of Herbig-Haro 46/47. It has a terrible name, but that’s astrophysicists for you. It is an image of two young stars, or more specifically, an image of what two proto-stars are doing to their surrounding area.


A Herbig-Haro object is a bright area of nebulosity formed by narrow, high-energy jets colliding with nearby gas and dust. These two very young stars (literally thousands rather than millions of years old) are still accreting matter - they are still growing. The speed of their growth is controlled by this outflow of material (the jets) and that is what is causing this glowing gas, referred to as a Herbig-Haro object. These objects are associated with Bok Globules (a fantastic name that is rather fun to say) which are very compact, isolated molecular clouds – they are very small Dark Nebula (between 0.1 and 2000 solar masses in size). Being a dark nebula, we can only see through it in this image thanks to JWST using infrared rather than visible light. The telescope is revealing light and structures that were hidden from Hubble’s sight.


I’m doing this painting on a 40x40cm canvas, a size I haven’t worked on since the later months of 2021. The smaller size is an interesting challenge after working so big. The thing I struggle to create on smaller scales is the energy in the paint. I’m more constrained by the size; it forces me to use smaller movements. This smaller size allows me to work in my flat as it reduces the risk of mess (only reduces, mind you). As a summer painting, and on a smaller canvas that I already owned, it is a less pressured work, which is quite freeing. I am feel more at ease to experiment with less of a threat of wasted time or money looming over my head. The painting reached a rather pretty stage a week or so ago, but alas it did not contain the energy appropriate for such an object, so it had to be worked over. While currently not as pretty, it does possess a bit more energy than before, so I’d say so far it is an overall success.



When I last posted, I was just starting my new job. If I remember correctly, I did voice some qualms I had, so now let me address them once again from the new stand point of being well into said job. Overall, it is going fairly okay. I have been feeling a little stretched this last week; as a result no painting has been done and will not be until next week. While this is alarming on the one hand, it is important to bear in mind that I am currently working many more hours than I will be in term time, so my work-to-art ratio will be swung in the opposite direction. Basically, while I think I will have to keep a close eye on things to make sure I do take an extra day or two to myself if need be as term begins to avoid the loss of much longer periods in the long run, I am hopeful that it will not be too intrusive and thus not anything I can’t handle. I’m staying positive.


As the new term approaches, I am starting to look forwards to what I may wish to focus on once it gets into full swing. Currently my mind is pondering cosmic explosions/collisions. Specifically, things like kilonova, creation of heavy elements, gravitational waves, methods of observation, theory and observation, metaphors/poetry/history of cataclysmic events, colour/light/what we can (or can’t) see, and black hole mergers. Within these ideas I’m also thinking about materials and texture and abstract and realism, etc. It’s all rather broad at the moment, but it will narrow with time (or I’ll come up with something completely different!) Basically, I asked myself: What excites me most about space at the moment? This was what I came up with!


Not art or science related as such, but I am just a tad excited to be going to London at the start of September to go see the Lion King!! I haven’t seen it for 12/13 years and I CANNOT WAIT. While we’re in London, we should be going to some museums and things too so it is all rather exciting!!


To summarise, I’m pretty stressed but feeling mostly positive. I’ve had a pretty good summer and excited for what is coming next. I hope you all have a great end to your summer, and I’ll see you next time!


Stay curious and creative.


Anna xx


I also wish to take a moment to celebrate India's (very) recent success. Their first successful luna landing, and the first nation to land on the south pole of the moon! Hooray!

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