“Victorian Algae Art” by Celia Berrell

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Each drop of water

from sea, soil or stream

is teeming with life.

A mi-CROS-copist’s dream!


Diatoms shimmer

in rainbows of light.

Their intricate coats

a magnificent sight.


These algae have skeletons:

glassy-grown cases

with species-specific

designs on all faces.


Placed on a slide

only microns apart,

kaleidoscope patterns

delight us as art.


First published in Double Helix (April 2018)

Reproduced with permission of CSIRO http://www.doublehelix.csiro.au

inspired by:

Klaus Kemp – The Diatomist – & Algae Kaleidoscopes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxkbSk–EUY

Published on Feb 9, 2017

Struck by the beauty and symmetry of diatoms, modern-day microscopist Klaus Kemp recently revived the Victorian art of diatom arrangement. In this short film by Matthew Killip, peer into the peculiar art form and witness a modern-day diatom master at work.

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