An Impassioned Portrait of A Street Dancer Named Olivier
A Rare Glimpse Inside the Labyrinthine Archive of London’s Royal Botanical Gardens
The Herbarium at London’s Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew is a vast, Victorian maze filled with arcane books, learned scientists, and cabinet after cabinet of cataloged plants. Taking visual cues from the alluring intricacies of a Wes Anderson movie, this elegant short, “The Plant Family Tree,” is the fifth in the series Beyond the Gardens, created by the London-based studio, Lonelyleap. Coinciding with this summer’s IncrEdibles festival that runs through September, the series was designed to expose Kew’s rarely seen research aspect, and uncovers a haven from the hubbub of tourists outside. It tells the story of an institution that has played an integral role in the discovery of new species since it opened in 1853, with seven million specimens held in its many wings. “It’s a fantastic place because of all the history associated with the discovery of immensely diverse plants in the tropics,” enthuses Mark Chase, the film’s narrator and one of most prominent scientists to have worked at the gardens, currently serving as Director of Kew’s Jodrell Laboratory. “It helps us understand both the diversity of things we’ve got out there and what we have to do to preserve it.”
Graydon Sheppard's Celebration of the Animal Elite Reaches its Grand Finale
Warning: The above video contains many feathered coats, large eyes and wet noses. The viewer may witness scenes of astonishing dignity, dramatic posing and movement at great speed.
Writer and filmmaker Graydon Sheppard offers up the third and final installment of Pure Breeds, the series that celebrates the most charming and beautiful of pedigree pets. Having tackled the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the Cornish Rex, today the creator of the internet phenomenon Shit Girls Say looks at the Saluki, thought to be the fastest dog on earth. The Saluki is alleged to be the most ancient of purebred animals, with mentions of similar hounds appearing in the Bible, the Avesta and the Koran. Petroglyphs and other forms of rock art showing Saluki-like dogs were created as early in human history as 10,000 BC. “My boyfriend came across a video of some Salukis online, and we were instantly fascinated,” says Sheppard. “They seemed so rare and elegant. They look like rich old ladies and they have that attitude, too, like they're saying devastating things about your wardrobe when you're not within earshot.”
Today we look at the Saluki. We understand that this time around the talent were less than cooperative on set. Can you elaborate?
Graydon Sheppard: They’re not so much difficult as “over it,” and they are not interested in posing for very long. I tried to put a pharaoh hat on one of the dogs but he wasn’t interested. Salukis are also very fast and bouncy, so getting them to sit still for long periods was tricky. But they’re so damn pretty. When we got the shots it was worth all the hassle.
The Saluki has been immortalized in art and religious texts for thousands of years. How do you think their personalities reflect their pedigree?
GS: There's definitely something otherworldly about them. It's kind of like that attitude of “being in the world but not of the world.” When I met these dogs they got right up in my face and stared into my eyes as if to examine my soul, but they could just as easily look right through you. That’s a bit dramatic, but they really are sprite-like.
Throughout this series we have heard about your family dog Molson. Last time you shared an anecdote about his having eaten an entire Christmas-worth of gifts. We love Molson. One last story?
GS: One day I took him with me for a swim. He was doing this insane back-and-forth thing—running in and out of the lake, screaming—when he stopped, chest-deep, looked at me, and retched in the water. I wasn’t much in the mood for a dip after that.