Martin Spray

From front cover of 'Slugs and Snails by Robert Cameron, published by Harper Collins.

Slugs and snails

Martin Spray
| 7th March 2017
In this long-anticipated volume, Robert Cameron introduces us to the natural history of slugs and snails of the British Isles, writes Martin Spray, also venturing across the world to explore the wide range of structures and ways of life of slugs and snails, particularly their sometimes bizarre mating habits, which in turn help to illuminate the ways in which evolution has shaped the living world.

Read Article

From front cover of 'The man who ate the zoo' by Richard Girling, published by Chatto & Windus.

Frank Buckland: 'the man who ate the zoo'

Martin Spray
| 8th November 2016
As Victorian eccentrics go, Frank Buckland was a prime specimen, writes Martin Spray. But this new book about his rich and remarkable life is much more than a collection of anecdotes about his extraordinary doings, his inordinate curiosity about the natural world, and the animals he kept - and ate: a stimulating companion for wet days, cold evenings and wakeful nights.

Read Article

'The most perfect thing - inside (and outside ) a bird's egg' - from front cover.

The most perfect thing - inside (and outside) a bird's egg

Martin Spray
| 7th June 2016
Birds eggs are wonderful, as Tim Birkhead makes clear in his new book. But they are also enigmatic, mysterious, their secrets not lightly surrendered. Every kind of egg is perfect in its own way, writes Martin Spray, but the logic that underlies their characteristic designs, colours and shapes eludes the most assiduous of oologists.

Read Article

From front cover of HUMAN by Yann Arthus-Bertrand.

HUMAN. A portrait of our world

Martin Spray
| 15th December 2015
Yann Arthus-Bertrand's latest book, 'Human', revisits the territory of 'Earth from Above', but with a harder edge, writes Martin Spray. Yes, the photographs are lovely, even inspirational, but often mix uneasily with the testimonies of suffering and desperate demands for change they illustrate.

Read Article

Cowslips (Primula veris). Photo: Donna JW via Flickr (CC BY).

The joys and sufferings of plants as sentient beings

Martin Spray
| 10th April 2015
Is it 'morally reprehensible' to arbitrarily decapitate roadside flowers? Yes it is, writes Martin Spray - at least in Switzerland. And now we know that plants have both senses and physiology, why not awareness and emotions too? Even legal standing to have their rights defended in court - at least if they are trees?

Read Article

Making mud pies - no instruction manual needed. Photo: Jim Purbrick via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Learning with Nature and the nature of play

Martin Spray
| 28th January 2015
A new book aims to get children off their mobile phones and back where they belong: in the great outdoors. It's packed with well thought-out, purposeful activities to get children interacting with nature, but Martin Spray wonders: is it all trying too hard? Has the essential nature of 'play' somehow been forgotten?

Read Article

Front cover of 'Art and Ecology Now'. Image: Thames & Hudson.

Art and Ecology Now

Martin Spray
| 16th September 2014
This intriguing new book is a bold attempt to strike a new direction for ecological art, writes Martin Spray - not to communicate environmental issues, but to create new connections with the world around us and imbue our lives with 'artfulness'.

Read Article

Fourth of July Iceberg, 2008, Twillingate, Newfoundland. Photo: Barbara Matilsky.

Vanishing ice through artists' eyes

Martin Spray
| 9th May 2014
This chronicle of over two centuries of melting Alpine and polar ice, seen through the works of contemporary artists, is at its best both powerful and provocative, writes Martin Spray. But he wonders - is art really such an effective force for environmental protection?

Read Article

The Amoeba in the Room front cover - Nicholas Money / OUP.

The amoeba in the room

Martin Spray
| 11th April 2014
What kind of life really matters? Big, showy species, or the uncountable gadzillions of microbiota that do the biosphere's hard work, and whose DNA occupies every cell in our bodies and makes 'higher' life possible? Martin Spray on 'The amoeba in the room'.

Read Article

To Life!

Martin Spray
| 8th November 2013
Martin Spray reviews a text on eco-art that whilst (surprisingly) not visually stunning he found presented a comprehensive guide to the issues and approaches of the genre, as well as providing clues on 'where to look to next' ...

Read Article

The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse

Martin Spray
| 10th September 2013
Martin Spray reviews a book which contains the words 'punish human beings' in the title. Despite experiencing severe annoyance and mild disgust during his read, he also admits to finding the work undeniably intriguing..............

Read Article