DNA in Northampton – Synchronicity and Sculptures

A cousin I discovered through DNA testing, Lisa, decided to embark an on adventure in England, but little did she know what an adventure it would be.

Her first day on the ground was unexpectedly spent in the hospital and her second day was spent having surgery.

However, she’s now on the mend but can’t return home until she recovers – so she is relegated to sightseeing – although that’s not exactly what she intended to be doing. Talk about making lemonade out of lemons!

I knew in my heart she would be roaming around England with DNA kits in her purse, hoping to find male Franklins, given that she is one of the administrators of the Franklin Y DNA Project.  Project administrators almost ALWAYS have a DNA kit someplace handy, especially when traveling.

Then. she proved me right by posting this photo of an establishment she found in Northampton on her Facebook page.

When she asked about the whereabouts of the proprietor, she was informed that “he’s not alive just now,” followed by something about cricket.  Apparently John Franklin was one of the local founding fathers…which…knowing the unbounded tenacity of genetic genealogists, assuredly sent Lisa on a mission to find a local phone book.

I imagine an ensuing conversation might go something like this:

“Hello – are you descended from John Franklin?”

“You are?  Will you DNA test?”

“What do you mean ‘who am I?’ I might be his 5 times great-grand-niece, which is why I need you to DNA test.”

Click.

I know every genetic genealogist is laughing at this hypothetical conversation, knowing they would do the same, maybe a little more tactfully than my madeup example.  You know, a few more pleasantries first and hopefully no “click” at the end.  At the same time, we’re all quite envious of Lisa’s lucky find!  See what unexpected surgery will net you. Talk about synchronicity.

Lisa was kind enough to post a couple very interesting DNA-related photos taken in Northampton where she discovered John Franklin, which she has given me permission to share. Given this sculpture, the Franklin descendants in Northampton should have at least a passing familiarity with DNA already.

I love this piece of very public art. Utter beauty.  This speaks to me of elegance and grace and of the human spirit that soars.  We are at once united and completely unique.

Thanks for sharing, Lisa.  Oh, and good luck with John Franklin!!!

London DNA Sculpture Trail

I’m typically not a “things” person, but I’m telling you, I want one of these for my garden.  Oh yeah!!!!!  In fact, I think making one would be great fun!!!

helix sculptures

This summer (2015), you can take part in an extraordinary event across London, England, in support of Cancer Research UK.

This London art trail is made up of 21 beautifully designed giant double helix sculptures and runs until Sunday the 6th of September.  These sculptures have been designed by some of the biggest names in art and design. Check out the sculpture map, watch the video of how one sculpture was made, and start planning your trail now, at least if you’re going to be in London.  I surely wish they’d do a virtual tour for those of us who can’t visit in person.

helix sculpture map

At the end of the summer, these sculptures will be auctioned to raise funds to complete the Francis Crick Institute, the scientist of course who discovered DNA.

You can see the Individual sculptures here.

I personally love the Delft one.  And the cat one with the buttons.  And the orange tree from Spain.  And the helix ladder.  And the symbolic swallow with handprints.  Ok, I like them all.  Which one is your favorite?

Update:

Subscriber PB has sent two photos of the sculptures in London.  Thanks PB.  If anyone else sends photos, I’d love to add them too.

DNA Sculpture 1

DNA Sculpture 2

My Shield

Some things in life are just pure joyful fun.  Making a shield for myself has been one of those adventures.  Or maybe, I should more accurately say, having a shield made for me.

Before the heraldry folks get up in arms (pun intended,) this isn’t any attempt at “real” heraldry – I just wanted a personal statement symbol that is beautiful to those who don’t understand the underlying message and meaningful to those who do – and that reflects my ancestry as well by the fact that it is a shield.  In other words, this could go on my tombstone and I would be happy.  It says “me.”  It’s my graphic signature.  I think of it as my own personal tattoo on paper.

I’ll be showing you in a couple of days the original purpose of the shield, but for now, let’s take a look at what a very talented graphic artist, Nick Buckingham, did for me.  I’m so excited!

Nick is a member of the Magna Carta Facebook group, which is how I found him.

Nick is known for making shields for people, so I dropped him a line and gave him a very odd list of items for my shield.  This is not normal heraldry.  Here’s my shopping list: turtle, eagle, labyrinth – and I sent him a link to a labyrinth site.  I also sent him a photo of my labyrinth so he could see why I want one, since it’s a bit of an odd request.

labyrinth

I also told Nick I liked purple, but wasn’t sure if he could use that successfully in a shield, especially with the very odd list I had just given him.

Just sit and think for a minute what you might expect from that list of ingredients.

Nick was very gracious, and a couple of days later, this is what I received as a first draft.

shield 1To say I was dumbstruck would be an understatement.  I love this – just love it.  I didn’t know what to expect, but I didn’t expect this.  It captures my spirit.  I never expected to love it this much!

But, being a woman, I had to play a bit and change my mind a couple of times.  It’s required isn’t it??  Poor Nick!

I asked Nick what it would look like in red.

shield 2

Nice, but I don’t think this is for me.  But it is striking, and I do like it.

Next, we discussed the blank area at the bottom of the shield border.  I suggested maybe we could add something DNAish there.  I sent him some double helix links.

We tried a DNA double-helix sword.  Some days I am a DNA warrior – and I have that warrior gene you know.

shield 3

Not bad, but I don’t think it adds anything and I think you wind up looking at the eagle’s feet asking “what is that thing anyway?”  I have a lot of good ideas when I quilt that just don’t quite work either.  I tell my friends, “the quilt will tell you what it wants” and I guess shields are the same way.

But wait…what about that DNA helix sword on the red shield?

shield 4

I kind of like that – better than on the purple shield anyway.  But I still like the purple shield better…I think.  It just feels more me.

We returned to the purple shield and added two more turtles to see if that would be pleasing.

shield 5

I like this, but now I think maybe those turtles are too much and visually distract from the eagle.  Plus we don’t want that eagle to reach out and grab one of the turtles.  Nick is probably getting very tired of me by now, but he’s far too much of a gentleman to say anything.  Has to be that Magna Carta or maybe Crusader blood in his veins!

Next, Nick inserted a couple of softer double helix strands in the borders.

shield 6

Hmmm…..no.  I’m beginning to wonder if DNA works in contemporary heraldry.

I asked Nick to put the turtles back, but on top of the DNA strands.  Turtles climbing the double helix – that might be very interesting and symbolic.

shield 7

This too sounded like a good idea, but in reality, I think I liked the very first rendition best.  It truly was love at first sight!

If anything, I’m overwhelmed with several wonderful choices.  Nick is just so talented and I’m so grateful for his hard work and his patience!  You can really tell when someone is working in the element they are passionate about – because it shines through in the final product.

Do you think I could change my shield to go with my mood or the season maybe?  Now there’s an idea.  Can a woman have too many shields?

What do you think?  Which shield do you like best?

And before you ask, because I know you’re going to, here’s how to contact Nick.  He’s very kind and gracious, does this “on the side,” although it’s his passion.  Nick is probably overwhelmed with requests – and if he wasn’t before, he will be now…so be gentle.

Nick Buckingham’s e-mail:  cols1542@gmail.com

Stone Helix

thea alvin helix

In the just for fun category, I was thrilled when I found these helix earthworks, made from stone by Thea Alvin, a stonemason, at www.myearthwork.com.  They are just incredible with the stones held in place by gravity alone.

thea alvin helix2

I don’t know about you, but I want one of these in my yard. Oh yeah!!!!

thea alvin3

The three arch helix structure is on Thea’s property between Morrisville and Stowe, Vermont. She has transformed her yard into a sculpture park and it’s open 10-6 on weekends to the public, or by prior arrangement.  You can also request a tour by dropping Thea an e-mail at thea@myearthwork.com.  She has also opened an artistan gallery in her barn called Rock, Paper, Scissors.

From Stowe, take Route 100 south towards Morrisville; look for the looping, three-arch stone sculpture and My Earthwork sign.  I have a trip planned to Vermont next year.  Maybe I’ll visit.

Here’s an article in the local Stowe paper and here’s a video of Thea where she discusses wanting to create stoneworks that are timeless.  I wonder if she realizes just how spiritual and timeless the helix, in particular the double helix is, reaching back through the entire timeline of humankind.

Maybe her next project will be to create a true double helix! What do you think, Thea?  Are you game???

 

Wozniak’s Birthday DNA Gift

Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, was treated to a surprise birthday party Aug. 1 in San Francisco. About 400 people gathered at the Yerba Buena Center for the Performing Arts to honor the man known to most people as “Woz,” who turns 62 Aug. 11.  One of the gifts Steve received was a map of his DNA.

And look below, I do believe that’s a DNA birthday cake too!!!

You can read more about the event at the E-Week link below:

http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Mobile-and-Wireless/Apple-CoFounder-Steve-Wozniak-Celebrates-Surprise-Birthday-Party-62-253854/?kc=EWKNLCSM08072012STR1

Want DNA art for yourself?  Looks like www.dna11.com is the ticket.

There is more info on the DNA process and some additional photos here:

http://www.dnaart.com/

Hmmm…..Christmas is coming……