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While a rarity on modern shelves, marbled book covers span both the globe and the centuries, with the craft found in East Asia, the Middle East and Europe, and dating back to roughly 1100 CE. This short documentary from 1970 highlights marbling as practised by William Chapman for the now-defunct Douglas Cockerell & Son Bindery in the English village of Grantchester near Cambridge. The film captures Chapman as he layers watercolours onto a base of carrageenan (or seaweed). He then forms intricate designs by stirring the pigments with a comb – in a process that’s perhaps even more aesthetically pleasing than the final product itself – before finally applying them to the paper. With each of Chapman’s designs crafted by hand and subject to artisanal imperfections, every cover is a true original.
Director: K V Whitbread
Hear from blasphemes, sceptics and free-thinkers in this ‘tour of medieval unbelief’
Ecology and environmental sciences
The ancient Hawaiian myth that sparked a modern ecological breakthrough
‘Dun dun dun duuun!’ Why Beethoven’s Fifth sticks in the head and stirs the heart
The irreverent duo who thumbed their noses at the Soviet Union and the US art world
Computing and artificial intelligence
A scientist’s poor eyesight helped fuel a revolution in computer ‘vision’
Future of technology
Is this the future of space travel? Take a luxury ‘cruise’ across the solar system
Fairness and equality
A tragicomic account of how the Los Angeles Police Department blew up a city block
Stories and literature
A French Creole folktale nearly lost to time is given new, gorgeously animated life
Food and drink
Is a ‘gastronomic society’ dinner the height of decadence, or an act of artistry?