Friday, 22 May 2015

IS Art Threat

Look at the quality of carving in this ancient sculpture in the Damascus city museum. It was found in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, a World Heritage site that predates Islam. The Syrians managed to transfer hundreds of statues and ancient artifacts from Palmyra's museum before the IS fanatics struck, but there is still much there which IS could destroy..At present the lunatics are killing people (CLICK).

Shakespeare's Face

Country Life isn't the sort of magazine in which one expects to find scoops. let alone the scoop of the century; but here is its cover for 20 May showing the only portrait of William Shakespeare made during his lifetime. Botanist and historian Mark Griffiths found the engraving on the title page of a 400-year-old book The Herball by pioneering botanist John Gerard, published in 1598. He identifies Shakespeare by various means, including the laurel wreath of a poet and by the snake's head fritillary, which Shakespeare knew about and mentions in a poem and in his play Titus Andronicus. Of course other academics have given Mark's claim the raspberry (CLICK).

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Artist for £20

The Bank of England plans to depict a visual artist on its next £20 note and wants the public to nominate artists. We can nominate painters, sculptors, print makers, designers, craftspeople, ceramicists, architects, fashion designers, photographers, filmmakers.and furniture makers. The nominee must be dead and, I assume, British. There has never been an artist on British banknotes before. Making his announcement at the V&A, Mark Carney said "There are a wealth of individuals within the field of visual arts whose work shaped British thought, innovation, leadership, values and society and who continue to inspire people today" (CLICK). William Hogarth would be top of my list. In addition to his many artistic achievements, he had a long, supportive association with the Foundling Hospital for abandoned children. Shown is one of my favourite paintings: French-born Sophie Anderson's Foundling Girls in their School Dresses at Prayer in the Chapel (1877). If you want a woman, try Evelyn de Morgan.

Holiday Fun

With half term school holidays coming up, most of the big museums and galleries in London have something free on offer to entertain the cherubs. Shown are kiddie Face Masks from The British Museum. I'll leave you to search your nearest or favourite museum online.

Open Studios

Valentines Mansion & Gardens in Ilford will be holding Artists’ Open Studios on Sunday 31 May. The artists will give demonstrations of their work: pottery, stained glass, painting. Shown is Carley Lechner's Ballerina. Entry is free. It's also a Family Fun Day (CLICK).

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Fury Road

Mad Max Fury Road received good critical reviews at the Cannes Film Festival. Writer Brendan McCarthy also produced the storyboard for Fury Road and has posted some of his concept paintings on his website, well worth viewing. Shown is An Armada Vehicle (CLICK). Red carpet officials have been getting pedantic about the dress code at Cannes. Women wearing flat-heeled shoes have been refused admittance. Film producer Valeria Richter, who had part of her left foot amputated, was initially refused admittance, but was eventually allowed to go in. The festival has denied high heels are part of the official dress code (CLICK).

Corfu Deaths

The Thomas Cook affair rumbles on, 9 years after Christi and Bobby Shepherd died from carbon monoxide poisoning at the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel in Corfu. Peter Fankhauser, the chief executive of Thomas Cook, has said he is "deeply sorry" about the deaths. He also regrets saying Thomas Cook had done "nothing wrong" when giving evidence at the coroner's court in Wakefield last week. The coroner directed jurors to return a verdict of "unlawful killing", because Thomas Cook had "breached its duty of care". On Monday the firm announced it had donated half of the £3 million it had received in damages from the hotel's owner to children's charity UNICEF. Mr Fankhauser is obviously trying to draw a line under what has been a PR disaster for Thomas Cook. But I would have thought paying extra compensation to the parents of Christi and Bobby would have been more appropriate (CLICK).

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Candy Udwin Sacked

The National Gallery in London has sacked Candy Udwin, the PCS union representative who has been fighting against privatisation at the Gallery. There will be a major demonstration in support of Candy on Saturday 30 May at 1pm. This will be followed by a 10-day strike from Tuesday 26 May to Thursday 4 June. No doubt more strikes will follow if the Gallery continues to be bloody minded (CLICK).

Ladybird by Design

The House of Illustration opens Ladybird by Design on 10 July. This is a touring exhibition from De La Warr Pavilion, co-curated by Lawrence Zeegen and Jane Won. Over 120 original illustrations from the hugely successful Ladybird Books series will be displayed. Shown is an illustration from The Story of Flight © Ladybird Books Ltd 1960. Admission costs £7 or £5 for silver surfers (CLICK).

Monday, 18 May 2015

Chelsea Show

I find it difficult to believe that the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show is back again. The weather hasn't been good enough to get me in a gardening sort of mood. Still, here are three Synchronised Swimmers to prove the show was open to royal visitors today. Prince Harry was chuffed with his stand for charity Sentebale. The Royal Hospital in Chelsea opens to the public tomorrow (CLICK).

Savile Row in USA

We can't accuse the British Ambassador to the USA of failing to promote British goods. This photo of the interior of the Ambassador's Residence< in Washington DC, taken on 14 May, shows an exhibition of clothing from Savile Row: The Savile Row Bespoke and America. Well done, Sir Peter.


Buckingham Palace has announced that the Queen and Prince Philip will visit the site of Nazi concentration camp Bergen-Belsen during their state visit to Germany in June. Her Majesty will see a memorial to Anne Frank, who died of typhus there in 1945. British forces liberated Bergen-Belsen 70 years ago and took photos that gave the world its first visual proof of the Holocaust (CLICK).

Sunday, 17 May 2015


The paparazzi are out in force for the 68th Cannes Film Festival in the south of France. Shown is Mexican actress Salma Hayek, who eats something "disgusting" in Matteo Garrone's Tale of Tales (2015). For the first time in 28 years the festival was opened with a film directed by a woman, an event which has the feminists whinging about lack of equality on the red carpet (CLICK). Yesterday I watched a TV programme about cult director Alfred Hitchcock: Living Famously (CLICK). He said he always aimed his films at women, because when a man took a woman to the cinema he asked her what film she wanted to see. So women choose the films.