Annual Exhibition of Microscopy

Saturday 7th October 2017

There is an extended version of this report in the password-protected Members’ area, with videos of the presentations and links to all of the photos submitted for a Barnard Award.

Public displays | Private displays | Presentations | Eric Marson Awards | Barnard Awards | Art awards

This was our fourth exhibition in the Flett Theatre and foyer and the PA 135 Meeting Room in the Natural History Museum in London, and the theme this year was art in microscopy. In accordance with tradition, the Club’s President Joan Bingley blew the Quekett horn to attract everyone’s attention and formally open the exhibition.

Joan Bingley and John TollidayJoan Bingley and John Tolliday

Public displays

The main feature in the foyer of the Flett Theatre was the display of photomicrographs by Quekett members. The photographs were displayed as prints and as a rolling display on a large wall-mounted monitor.

Photography displayPhotography display

Photography displayPhotography display

The theme of this year’s exhibition was art in microscopy, and for the first time we had a display of drawings and paintings.

Artwork displayArtwork display

Pam Hamer and Deborah Bishop had a table with magnifiers and small microscopes suitable for children, and a “What is it?” quiz with magnified images of everyday objects.

What is it?What is it?

Pam had prepared a duck and a Union flag made from layers of colourless Sellotape. When placed on the screen of a computer and covered with a polarising filter, different numbers of layers of Sellotape produce different colours.

Birefringent Sellotape duckBirefringent Sellotape duck

Birefringent Sellotape Union flagBirefringent Sellotape Union flag

Dennis Fullwood brought his Nikon Labophot compound microscope and a Chinese inspection camera linked to a monitor to show some of the spectacular slides from his collection to visitors of all ages.

Dennis Fullwood with a visiting familyDennis Fullwood with a visiting family

Dennis was also demonstrating how to make dry mounts.

Barry Wendon and Anne Algar did a great job on the reception desk and also had some of the Club’s books for sale.

Anne Algar and Barry WendonAnne Algar and Barry Wendon

Private displays

Downstairs in the PA135 Meeting Room, members had set up a wide variety of microscopy exhibits

Exhibits in PA135Exhibits in PA135

Joan Bingley showed 3 artistic arrangements of used teabags with captions, and some unused teabag muslin under her Carl Zeiss Jena GSZ stereomicroscope.

Joan Bingley’s exhibitJoan Bingley’s exhibit

The captions on the “Women are like teabags” arrangements are “They come in all shapes and sizes”, “Warm comfort when life is tough” and “We cope well in hot water”.

Jacky McPherson based her exhibit on the amateur mounter E. D. Evens who donated 3 cabinets of his botanical, zoological and petrological slides to the Club. Evens’ notes in PMS notebooks indicate that he used a Wenham binocular microscope, and Jacky set up the Club’s R. & J. Beck Wenham so that we could view several of the slides that he made. Jacky also provided one of the Club’s Swift petrological microscopes for viewing slides of crystals under crossed polarisers.

Jacky McPherson’s exhibitJacky McPherson’s exhibit

Slide by E. D. Evens on Wenham binocular microscope by R. & J. BeckSlide by E. D. Evens on Wenham binocular microscope by R. & J. Beck

Slides by E. D. EvensSlides by E. D. Evens

Jacky McPherson and Phil GreavesJacky McPherson and Phil Greaves

Gwyneth Thurgood had some of her paintings on display in the foyer of the Flett Theatre, while in PA135 she showed some of her drawings based on crystals as seen under a polarising microscope.

Gwyneth Thurgood’s exhibitGwyneth Thurgood’s exhibit

Drawings of urea crystalsDrawings of urea crystals

Gwyneth also brought some slides of crystals that we could examine using one of the Club’s Lomo Р13 compound microscopes fitted with a substage polariser and an analyser underneath the head.

Slides of crystalsSlides of crystals

Chris Thomas had prepared maps, tables and charts illustrating the results of the 2016 survey by Quekett members of spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii). Chris has a new project, the Quekett Spotted Wing Drosophila survey experiment on iNaturalist, that he hopes will attract reports from many more contributors and more parts of the UK.

Chris Thomas’s exhibitChris Thomas’s exhibit

Chris also showed an OWL Stereoscopic Viewer and a selection of stereo cards that he had made, including some diatoms.

OWL stereo viewer with diatom picturesOWL stereo viewer with diatom pictures

Robert Ratford brought a selection of rocks and minerals and used the Club’s Swift and Lomo МБС-10 stereomicroscopes. The specimens included dinosaur coprolite, meteorites from Mars and the moon, and a set of 9 minerals for testing the hardness of other minerals; the set comprised talc, gypsum, calcite, fluorspar, apatite, felspar, quartz, topaz and corundum.

Robert Ratford’s exhibit

Dinosaur coproliteDinosaur coprolite

Meteorites and hardness testing mineralsMeteorites and hardness testing minerals

Steve Durr used his Zeiss Standard stereomicroscope to show stem sections from plants with phloem, fibres, xylem and epidermis visible, developing pollen grains, mitosis in root tips, and mushroom gills.

Steve Durr’s exhibitSteve Durr’s exhibit

Steve Durr’s slidesSteve Durr’s slides

Steve also brought a related book, An Atlas of Plant Structure by Brian Bracegirdle & Patricia H. Miles.

Pam Hamer showed photographs of some of the 800 geological slides in the Club’s collection prepared by C. F. Caffyn. These include rocks collected from Predazzo in the South Tyrol (Italy). Pam has researched the origin of the specimens and has identified some of the collection sites. Pam provided some rock samples for viewing with a small Baker stereomicroscope that used to belong to Bill Boorne.

Irma Irsara admiring Pam Hamer’s exhibitIrma Irsara admiring Pam Hamer’s exhibit

A searchable catalogue of the Caffyn collection is available here:

John Rhodes brought some lichens for viewing under the Club’s Meiji stereomicroscope, and notes on the use of lichens as indicators of pollution. John provided photographs of lichens associated with clean air and with slight, moderate and severe pollution.

John Rhodes’ exhibitJohn Rhodes’ exhibit


Alan Wood demonstrated how to use an LED ring-light on the base of his Olympus SZ4045 stereomicroscope to produce either shadowless or dark-ground illumination.

Alan Wood’s exhibitAlan Wood’s exhibit

Construction of shadowless illuminator from LED ring-lightShadowless illuminator, showing (top left) specimen pinned into a Plastazote disc, (top right) ring of white paper, (bottom left) inverted bowl with base removed, and (bottom right) the complete illuminator

To demonstrate the shadowless illuminator, Alan used a wristwatch, lichen, crystals and a fly.

Wristwatch mechanism
Click the arrow to start the video (10 seconds), click the icon to the left of “vimeo” for a larger version

Yellow and grey lichens on twigYellow and grey lichens on twig

Pyromorphite micromountPyromorphite micromount

Construction of dark-ground illuminatorDark-ground illuminator, showing (left) black disc, (centre) inverted bowl with base removed, and (right) the complete illuminator

To demonstrate the dark-ground illuminator, Alan used commercial slides of a wing of a housefly and a larva of a mosquito.

Housefly wingHousefly wing, slide by Philip Harris Biological

Larva of a mosquito (Culex pipiens L.); slide by T. Gerrard & Co.Larva of a mosquito (Culex pipiens L.), slide by T. Gerrard & Co.

Maurice Moss demonstrated how to have fun with Cellophane, which rotates different wavelengths of polarised light by different amounts. By using several layers of colourless Cellophane between crossed polarisers, coloured images can be produced.

Maurice Moss’s exhibitMaurice Moss’s exhibit

Edward Wade’s exhibit was about snakes, and he brought some preserved specimens as well as his drawings of snakeskin and other parts of snakes.

Edward Wade’s exhibitEdward Wade’s exhibit

Snake drawing by Edward WadeSnake drawings by Edward Wade

Phil Greaves showed photographs and notebooks from the Club’s archive, including an album of photos of members from circa 1870, C. L. Odam’s freshwater notebook from 1936–46 and F. E. Cocks’ notebook on the Rotifera.

Phil Greaves’ exhibitPhil Greaves’ exhibit

Photographs of members (circa 1870)Photographs of members (circa 1870)

At present, the archives are locked in our store-room off the Dorothea Bate room and are not easy to access. We are planning to catalogue and digitise the most interesting items from the archives and make them available on the website. This project will depend on volunteers from the membership, and we hope to have most of the material available by the end of 2019.

Bryan Tabor showed drawings of rotifers that Eric Hollowday had made between 1946 and 1952, on paper and as a rolling demo on a tablet. Bryan also showed colour photos of Eric and others in the Museum’s Wildlife Garden, where Eric had sampled rotifers for several years. Bryan also brought 2 books, Rotifers by Josef Donner and A key to British Freshwater Planktonic Rotifera by Rosalind M Pontin

Bryan Tabor’s exhibitBryan Tabor’s exhibit

Gwyneth Thurgood and Bryan TaborGwyneth Thurgood and Bryan Tabor

Rotifer drawing by Eric HollowdayRotifer drawing by Eric Hollowday

Stephen Parker brought some prints that he had made from glass plate negatives acquired on eBay, depicting a Quekett excursion probably from the 1920s or early 1930s. He is hoping to identify the location and the people.

Stephen Parker’s exhibitStephen Parker’s exhibit

Stephen also brought his Leitz SM Pol microscope with a whole wave (sensitive tint) plate to show slides of impact deposits, rocks that are formed by the pressure and heat of meteorite impacts. The rocks came from a site near Ullapool in north-west Scotland.

Section of meteorite impact depositsSection of meteorite impact deposits

Andy Chick brought 2 small microscopes (one compound and one stereo) and 2 stand-mounted magnifiers, all using IKEA Jansjö worklamps for illumination.

Andy Chick’s exhibitAndy Chick’s exhibit

Dafydd Lewis and Andy Chick were representing the Amateur Entomologists’ Society (we were at their Annual Exhibition and Trade Fair the previous Saturday). Dafydd brought some AES literature, some pinned insects and a pair of live spiny stick insects.

Dafydd Lewis’s exhibitDafydd Lewis’s exhibit

Dafydd Lewis’s insectsDafydd Lewis’s insects

Dafydd brought along Mavis and Michael, a pair of New Guinea spiny stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata).

Dafydd Lewis with stick insectDafydd Lewis with spiny stick insect

Nigel Williams showed 3 ways of observing slides of spiders, a hand-held slide viewer by C. Baker with a Richard Suter slide of a sack spider, a hand lens with a slide of a ground spider (Lycosa agretyca), and a magic-lantern slide of a jumping spider.

Nigel Williams’ exhibitNigel Williams’ exhibit

Nigel Williams’ exhibitNigel Williams’ exhibit


The first presentation in the Flett Theatre was “Antoni van Leeuwenhoek” by Wim van Egmond. The first microorganism that van Leeuwenhoek described using his tiny microscopes has long been thought to be the filamentous alga Spirogyra, as proposed by Clifford Dobell. However, after reading the original Dutch text that refers to a whitish green bloom on the surface of the Berkelse Meer in the summer of 1674 and describes the organisms as green tendrils, Wim has put forward an excellent case for the organism being the cyanobacterium Dolichospermum. Spirogyra is not normally found in large bodies of water like Berkelse Meer, and its blooms are a different colour and occur at different times from those that van Leeuwenhoek observed.

Wim van EgmondWim van Egmond

Wim has written a related article on Micscape: The riddle of the ‘green streaks’.

The second presentation was a film “The microlife of the fen De Bedelaar on the estate of Prof Eugene Dubois”, introduced by Willem Cramer and Dora de Cremer. Willem and Dora had found a 1913 survey of the organisms in the fen, which still exists and has remained unpolluted and isolated from other bodies of water. They recently carried out their own survey, and found largely the same organisms as described in 1913.

Joan Bingley, Willem Cramer and Dora de CremerJoan Bingley, Willem Cramer and Dora de Cremer

As a tribute to Brian Davidson, who sadly passed away a few days before the Exhibition, a video of his final lecture “Powell & Lealand’s No. 1 stand” was shown.

Click the arrow to start the video, click the icon to the left of “vimeo” for a larger version

Eric Marson Awards

Pam Hamer judged the slides that Quekett and PMS members had submitted, and James Rider and Lewis Woolnough took photomicrographs of them with the Club’s GX stereomicroscope.

Pam decided that David Galliford, Andy Johnston, Tony Pattinson, John Rhodes and Lewis Woolnough had achieved the necessary standard to receive a certificate.

Slides by David GallifordSlides by David Galliford

Slide by Lewis WoolnoughSlide by Lewis Woolnough

Tony Pattinson receiving his certificateTony Pattinson receiving his certificate

John Rhodes receiving his certificateJohn Rhodes receiving his certificate

Barnard Awards

Mike Gibson took over the organisation from David Linstead this year, and arranged for the best photographs to be printed and mounted so that they could be displayed in the foyer of the Flett Theatre. Mike also prepared a rolling Powerpoint presentation of all of the submission, and this was shown on a large wall-mounted monitor.

Mayfly nymph, by Chris AlgarMayfly nymph (crossed polarisers), by Chris Algar

Hexadecane crystals (crossed polarisers), by John RowlandHexadecane crystals (crossed polarisers), by John Rowland

Leaf vein of lilac (oblique Rheinberg), by Les FranchiLeaf vein of lilac (oblique Rheinberg), by Les Franchi

Tim Newton and Janice Tolley-Hodges took on the difficult job of deciding which of the photographs were of a sufficiently high standard to deserve a certificate.

Janice Tolley-Hodges and Tim Newton judging the photographsJanice Tolley-Hodges and Tim Newton judging the photographs

Certificates were awarded to Chris Algar (mayfly nymph), Franco Cheli (fern sori UV fluorescence), Les Franchi (leaf vein of Syringa), Mike Gibson (spiracle), Chris Green (brachiopod (Gwynia capsula)), Irma Irsara (soldierfly larva), David Linstead (fern sori), Graham Matthews (poultry louse), Jeremy Poole (hypostome and palp of Ixodes hexagonus), John Rowland (hexadecane crystals), Chris Thomas (pine needle section), Penny Thoyts (shed skin from gecko), John Tolliday (fly’s-eye view), Wim van Egmond (hydroid), Spike Walker (histidine crystals) and Alan Wood (fern sori).

Chris Thomas receiving his certificateChris Thomas receiving his certificate

Wim van Egmond receiving his certificateWim van Egmond receiving his certificate

Art awards

John Tolliday judged the entries for this new category.

Patchwork leaf-cutter bee (Megachile centuncularis) by Margaret Zella StanleyPatchwork leaf-cutter bee (Megachile centuncularis), by Margaret Zella Stanley

Certificates were awarded to Dawn Painter, Anne Rhodes, Margaret Zella Stanley, Gwyneth Thurgood and Edward Wade


Our grateful thanks to:

  • John Tolliday for undertaking the exhausting task of organising the exhibition;
  • our team of volunteers who set up tables, extension leads and microscopes on Friday afternoon in the PA135 Meeting Room and displays of photographs and artwork early on Saturday morning in the foyer of the Flett Theatre, so that everything was ready in time for the 10:30 a.m. start;
  • the exhibitors without whom there would be no exhibition;
  • Pam Hamer, Tim Newton, Janice Tolley-Hodges and John Tolliday for judging the entries
  • Mike Gibson for organising the photograph display;
  • the Museum Events Management who provided the furniture;
  • the technicians who manned the AV controls in the Flett theatre;
  • the security staff for their help in the early morning and later.

Report and photographs by Alan Wood

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