13 Sep 2012

Jiggling Atoms

From quarks to quasars; 24 artists explore the world of atoms, galaxies and particle detectors.

Jiggling Atoms is an interdisciplinary science and illustration project exploring the wonders of particle physics. It will culminate in a unique exhibition at the Rag Factory, in London’s East End, on October 1st – 7th. Supported by the Science and Technology Facilities Council and the Institute of Physics, 24 artists illustrate the world as seen through the eyes of a scientist. By mixing knitting and black holes, paint and giant particle-detectors, the atomic space collides with the gallery space!

The unique spirit of Jiggling Atoms is based on the collaboration between the artists and research physicists Malte Oppermann (Imperial College London) and Dr. Ben Still (Queen Mary University). Inspired by Nobel-laureate Richard Feynman and his wonderful ability to teach physics to non-scientists, teaching was the starting point of the project. All artists attended a series of lectures and tutorials at Imperial College London, written especially for the project by Malte Oppermann and Jennifer Crouch, with a final lecture by Dr. Ben Still. Exploring a range of topics in particle physics in such depth, the artists were prepared to have their own take on the subject. Fusing art with science, they created games, images, sculptures, comics and infographics for the Jiggling Atoms exhibition event.

It will host the talents of recent graduates as well as established artists, including Sister Arrow, Zeel, Stephen Fowler, Katie Scott, Peter Nencini, Grace Helmer, Jimmy Patrick, Elizabeth Towndrow, Jack Hughes, Bryony Quinn, Peter Rhodes, Rosie Eveleigh and many more. With such diverse creative input the exhibition will provide a truly unique visual experience, enabling visitors to be amazed by the forces that make atoms jiggle!

Jiggling Atoms runs for one week from 1st October, with a private view on Thursday 4th October featuring music, topical talks and drinks. The weekend events (October 6th-7th) boast a fascinating program of activities, including artistic workshops, public lectures and debates – expect to see the likes of Super/Collider, Patrick Stevenson Keating, Mark Pilkington, Adrian Holme, John Butterworth and Radmila Topolovic.

Jiggling Atoms was conceived by Natalie Kay-Thatcher and is co-curated and organised by Rosie Eveleigh, Malte Oppermann, Dr. Ben Still and Jennifer Crouch. With support from the Science and Technology Facilities Council and The Institute of Physics Public Engagement Grant, Jiggling Atoms seeks to increase the presence of science in the visual arts, opening a channel of science-oriented communication rarely used in this context or with this intensity.

For more information and a press pack please email: info@jigglingatoms.org.

16 Mar 2012

Feynman Diagrams

For the Camberwell Press Into the Fold exhibition I organised a printmaking workshop as part of Day 6 proceedings. The task was to explain the interactions of particles expressed in Richard Feynman's diagrams. Although they appear aesthetically simple, this is quite the opposite. Each element in the diagram represents an underlying physical phenomena/particle interaction and there are strict rules that govern how they are constructed. Though, for this workshop, we probably bent the rules a little bit in order to express them stylistically and quickly. They were, however, scientifically checked out by our resident physicist, Abby Schlageter, one half of the magnificent super/collider; a not for profit organisation which aims to promote science through the creative industries.

Although once shunned by the more traditional side to the physics community, these diagrams are now standard practice in the way particle interactions are described and visualised by scientists today.

Life-long printmaker and Camberwell illustration tutor Mary Kuper introduced the students to the card-cut method (or Collograph printing as it is sometimes known.) Using pieces of A4 card and a variety of tools, the students ripped, carved and etched into the surface. Every mark can be translated in quite fine detail using the small handmade relief press. Aesthetically expressive and instantaneous, the finished diagrams expose the beauty of Feynman's icons, as well as reflect the way in which he brought them irreverently into the world.

Thanks to Abby Schlageter & Chris Hatherill of super/collider, Mary Kuper and my excellent Camberwell Press team. The brilliant, attentive workshop attendees Isabella Toledo, Grace Helmer, Rosie Eveleigh, Louise Lynn, Helena Davey & Sandra Berghianu who's work you can feast on below.

This was a trial workshop which we will be running again as part of the Jiggling Atoms exhibition later this year. More details and a web presence to follow!

10 Oct 2011

The Barnacle

Muralling for The Barnacle Stage at FIELDVIEW FESTIVAL.

Best thing about this is the UV invisible blue paint. It dries completely clear and only shows up under ultra violet light.

Many thanks are in order: To Johnny McIllroy for the setting me loose in his marquee. To Ernst Haeckel for the tendril inspiration. To my brother for making the festival amazing. To Mervyn Peake for the typography. To Chloe Taylor for painting it with me!

Most of all, to Cliff Port, for his wisdom and guidance. Cliff is a very accomplished mural and backdrop artist and has done painted wonders for bands like Hawkwind, Shed 7 and events like Live Aid (yes, the Africa guitars).

Photo credits: Simone Kay, Hattie Knight and Sarah Cape.

22 Sep 2011

Flamingo Magazine

A small interview with Flamingo Magazine. "Flamingo is an illustration, arts and music magazine that celebrates doing-it-yourself."


Thanks to Zita Abila for the questions.

28 Jun 2011

How to Start a Feynman

I have read a ton of books about Richard Feynman and the one that stood out was the collated interviews between him and Christopher Sykes in 'No Ordinary Genius' (1994). The stories about Feynman's father moved me so much that i thought they deserve a brand new illustrated collation.

The book is comprised out of Feynman's own spoken anecdotes about his formative years with his father, growing up in Far Rockaway on the outskirts of New York. These brief but insightful glimpses show how a Nobel Prize mind is moulded at a very early age.

The book got a lovely review by Bryony from It's Nice That, which you can read here.

If you would like to own one I am setting up a shop and they will be available to order. Send me an email: nataliekaythatcher@gmail.com to confirm a pre-order. Thanks!

26 Apr 2011

For the love of gouache.

4 Apr 2011

Mothers Day

Last week Paul Gravett came to college and stunned us with two incredible talks about graphic novels and the contemporary comic industry. He set us a task to make a silent nine frame comic about a childhood memory.

This also happily coincided with Mothers Day! x

1 Apr 2011


I am proud to say this brand new nine layered screen print will be featured in two excellent shows in the coming days.

1/ EGAKU: Drawing for Japan

Recent Camberwell graduate Chie Miyazaki and others are hosting an art fair in aid of the disaster in Japan.

Onsale will be the work from some of the finest practitioners in the contemporary design and illustration world including Rob Ryan, Nobrow, Okido, Anorak Magazine, Jean Jullien, Laura Carlin, Frinton Press, Peepshow, Hato Press, Lazy Oaf, Winged Chariot & many many more.

Please head down to Jaguar Shoes this Sunday 3rd April, 12 - 8pm to show your support.



'So It Goes: A Tribute To Kurt Vonnegut' features original work inspired by the writing and ideas of the author of Slaughterhouse-Five, Cats Cradle, Player Piano, Welcome To The Monkeyhouse and Timequake, among others.

MONDAY 11th April 2011 at CAFE OTO

Door Times : 8pm

Tickets : £6 adv / £8 on the door


22 Mar 2011

Solaris and Europa

When asked to visualise alien life most people would think of small grey bug-eyed beings with arms and legs. This anthropomorphic and banal image of extra terrestrial life has been played out numerous times throughout the history of science fiction. In Star Trek all it takes to make an alien is a bit of putty and a few dots strategically placed next to their eyes.

This is why I have chosen to depict a 'Mimoid' from Stanislaw Lem's 1961 novel Solaris. Of all the science fiction I have read I think Lem gets more to the heart of what alien life could be like. The being in Lem's novel, the giant omnipotent sea, creates vast structures which are stimulated by psychology of the characters in the book. Of course this kind of being is completely absurd and very unlikely to exist, but it is the fact he wrote about a being so beyond our comprehension and scale which sets him apart from other science fiction writers who describe their creatures almost as human as us.

Considering Earth is our only reference point to living things at this present time it is natural to project ideas about life on to the worlds out in space. Further research is made into the hostile terrains of our own planet where very simple life manages to eek out an existence in the most unlikely of places. Relating the extreme conditions found on Earth to extreme conditions found in space means exciting possibilities have opened up for the discovery of alien microbial life. Not quite the walking, babbling, ray-gun wielding creatures dreamt up in sci-fi but it's a small and incredibly exciting start to this grand quest to find our cosmic community.


Jupiter's moon Europa has excited astrobiologists ever since it's surface has been observed in increasingly closer detail. It's etched with mysterious red markings and a pattern of cross hatched cracks cover vast expanses of the icy outer shell. Studies on Earth claim that life can exist and flourish inside ice. Not just in suspended animation but continually cell-dividing and reproducing. The implications of this discovery is what make Europ'a surface crust so intriguing. According to NASA scientist Richard Hoover the wide variety of colours on the surface are highly suggestive of microbial life and there is a “very strong possibility that the ice of Europa may contain viable living micro-organisms.” This means the evidence of extra terrestrial life could already be in our own solar system. And cosmically, that's right on our doorstep.

Not only has the surface of Europa got enormous potential for harbouring life but underneath the shell sits another incredible cosmic find. Most planetary scientists believe that a layer of liquid water exists beneath Europa's icy surface that stretches an enormous 100 kilometres deep and covers the entire moon. This means there is twice as much potentially life-sustaining water on Europa than found on Earth.

Perhaps like the laws of physics, the laws of biology are also universal. This would mean that life arises using the same chemistry set all over the universe. Or perhaps, one could speculate an entity like Lem's Solaris where our Earth reference point diminishes and becomes something extraordinary.


Extremophiles” Universe Today. April 6, 2010 http://www.universetoday.com/61457/extremophiles/

"Astrobiology in Space Exploration Missions". NASA Astrobiology. April 29, 2010 http://astrobiology.nasa.gov/missions/

"Phoenix Mars Mission". University of Arizona. April 29, 2010 http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/mission.php

Wonders of the Solar System: Aliens. (2009) BBC

Cosmos: Encyclopedia Galactica. (1978) Sagan, Druyan & Soter

21 Mar 2011

Hypothetical Guardian

These are the final images from a task set by Sarah Habershon of the Guardian. The articles were '50 steps to getting your new career' and 'So you want to work in space'.

(I definitely played it very safe)

17 Feb 2011

ICA Dirty Electronics

The ICA Solder-A-Score is an abstracted graphic representation of a circuit diagram based on an instrument by John Richards.

I Love You  is an embellished description of the performance with the Sudophone.

Skull Etching is a hybrid technical and expressive schematic based on an instrument by John Richards.

John Richards’ work explores performing with self-made instruments and the creation of interactive environments. I was asked to make a series of illustrations for an ICA and Dirty Electronics project in February 2011. The images are featured in the ICA’s Roland magazine and will be hung on the walls during the event. The show features workshops in bad ass instrument building, performances and talks. 

The work is hung until February 20th so get down there an have a look. There is an edition of 40 handmade screen prints of each design at a very reasonable price of £12 each.



God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian

Afterlife Lithos

Three colour litho and book cover idea for Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian. (1999) The image depicts the blue tunnel ascending from the lethal injection facility in Huntsville, Texas and up to heaven.

This lithograph is an idea for an afterlife after reading David Eagleman’s Sum: Tales from the Afterlives. (2010)

Kurt Vonnegut took over from Isaac Asimov as the honorary president for the American Humanist Association.This is an extract from the introduction of God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian explaining his religious position:

About belief or lack of belief in an afterlife: Some of you may know that I’m niether Christian nor Jewish nor Buddhist, nor a conventionally religious person of any sort. I am a humanist, which means, in part, that I have tried to behave decently without any expectation of rewards or punishments after I’m dead. (1999, p.9)

The Copenhagen Interpretation

The Niels Bohr Institute is a Physics institution part of the University of Copenhagen. Research spans Astronomy, Geophysics, Nanophysics, Particle Physics, Quantum Physics and Biophysics.

In December 2010 I went there to gain a broader understanding of how physics is taught at a university level. I quickly noticed my attention turning away from the actual physics and drawing towards the people who were there. I met the students and lecturers, conducted interviews and talked with various members of staff. I wanted to understand the way they felt about the subject they were studying, and how exciting it is to conduct research into the fundamental laws of nature. I got a mixture of apathy and insatiable enthusiasm.

Holger Bech Nielson! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOI8byIV_GI

I didn't understand a word, but he was thoroughly entertaining. There were two language barriers for me: Danish, and quantum physics.


Ice Cores! The ice featured is 100,000 years old excavated in the north of Greenland.


Absolutely my favourite part of the trip. The Single Bubble Sonoluminescence lab which is a more traditional physics lab. As apposed to computer simulations, this lab involves hands on experiments, and 'craftsmanship' according to the experimental  physicist who's been working on this particular area for 30 years.

Sound can be transformed into light. A sonoluminescing bubble is a small bubble in water trapped in a powerful sound field. The bubble expands as the sound pressure drops, and collapses as the sound pressure increases. The radius of the bubble drops from approx 70 um  to 0.7 um - a relative volume change of 10 to power of 6. This leads to adiabatic heating and as the bubble is smallest and hottest (~20000 K), a very short (~200 ps) flash of light is emitted. Light is emitted at the same frequency as the oscillating sound field. The physical mechanism responsible for light emission is still largely unknown.

It took us a while to find but eventually we saw the bubble. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen: One micron of light created with sound, water and temperatures hotter than a star!

"the physical mechanism responsible for light emission is still largely unknown" Exciting!

First year physics lab. The students were conducting an incline experiment. When in the physics lab I was asked to make a few diagrams for one of their experiment write-ups. It was a pleasurable exercise and the images got a good response when assessed. I think the actual phrasing of the critique was “bad ass.”

In Niels Bohrs' Auditorium. Bohr, Dirac, Heisenberg and Meitner in the front row. During the lectures they would use a small trumpet and a cannon: for celebration and/or decimation of a lecture.

And finally, Bohrs' bath! 

A thousand thanks to Jophiel Wiis who made this all happen. An amazing host who is totally in love with physics.