Wednesday, 28 January 2015

National Gallery Strike

Staff at the National Gallery in London are to go on strike from 3 to 7 February. The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union said its members had voted by more than nine to one for industrial action. According to the PCS, the National Gallery has reneged on a promise to introduce the London living wage; it is the only major museum or gallery in London that refuses pay it. The more recent idiocy from the Gallery is to privatise nearly 400 of its 600 staff. This is at least the third strike over privatisation, each one longer than the last. The two strikes in 1914 caused significant room closures, but the Sainsbury Wing remained open (CLICK).

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Holocaust Day

Today is Holocaust Day. It is exactly 70 years since Russian troops liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp and exposed to the world the horrors within. The photo shows starving and emaciated Romani Children in Auschwitz. Not all victims were Jews, although the vast majority were. More than a million died in Auschwitz, a quarter of them children. The Nazis murdered six million Jews (CLICK). Commemorations such as this serve to rubbish Holocaust deniers, but I can't help thinking it presents a cosy picture of Man's inhumanity to Man being history. The new child killers, the new Nazis, are Islamists (CLICK).

Monday, 26 January 2015

V&A Scare

The Times has uncovered a story about the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Following the murderous attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris by Muslim nutters, the museum was asked if it held any images of Muhammad. It replied in the negative, but then some bright spark pointed out that it owned a modern Iranian poster with the inscription "Muhammad the Prophet of God". The museum swiftly removed the picture from online (CLICK). Isn't it appalling that such a wonderful institution should need to protect itself in this way? Muslims create a climate of fear, then have the cheek to complain about "Islamophobia"!

Cycles Gladiator

Here's one way to advertise bicycles, the French way. Cycles Gladiator (ca 1895) is featured in Swann Galleries' annual winter auction of Vintage Posters in New York on 12 February, estimated at $10,000 to $15,000. Many of the posters promote skiing resorts. Early Olympic Games posters are also in the auction. There are Art Deco and Art Nouveau designs, including a set by Alphonse Mucha (CLICK).

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Pale Ale

Spot the mistake in Thomas Woodward's oil painting Hodgson's Brewery (1823). The horses that pull brewers' drays are massive beasts. So the man standing beside a pair of these horses is too big, perhaps because he is the brewer himself. The painting comes up for sale in Bonhams strangely named Knightsbridge auction Gentleman’s Library Sale on 27 and 28 of February with en estimated value of £6,000 - £8,000. CLICK to read an interesting write-up of East End breweries and the origins of Indian Pale Ale.

Pauline Cafferkey

It's good to know that Pauline Cafferkey, the British nurse who contracted Ebola while volunteering in Sierra Leone, is fully recovered, if feeling a bit weak, and was discharged from the Royal Free Hospital in London yesterday. Her condition had been critical for a few days. She gave an interview to BBC News: CLICK.

Ladybird Books

Ladybird Books is celebrating its centenary this year. The familiar ladybird was first registered as a logo in 1915. Generations of children learned to read using the Ladybird method. The books also formed an introduction to art. Shown are Two Ladybird Covers by top wildlife artist Charles Tunnicliffe (CLICK). As an excellent BBC video explains, a shortage of paper after World War II caused the modern size and format of the books to be created, perfect for small hands (CLICK). To mark the centenary Lawrence Zeegen - Professor of Illustration and Dean of the School of Design at the London College of Communication - has written a new book Ladybird By Design, which will be published in March. He also helped curate the free exhibition Ladybird By Design at De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea, showing over 200 original Ladybird illustrations from the late 1950s to the early 1970s (CLICK).

Saturday, 24 January 2015

The Tudor Eye

To accompany BBC Two's dramatisation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, tonight BBC Two screens Holbein: Eye of the Tudors - A Culture Show Special. As court painter to Henry VIII, Hans Holbein painted most of the major players of the age. Shown here is his portrait of one of Henry's wives: Anne of Cleves, now in the Musée du Louvre. The programme is directed and presented by that tedious know-it-all Waldemar Januszczak. Did you know that Henry VIII's codpiece was full of sawdust? Find out more tonight at 9pm (CLICK).

King Tut's Beard!

Egypt's Heritage Task Force says it will sue the antiquities minister over a botched repair to the Golden Funerary Mask of Tutankhamun (1323 BC) housed in the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. During the removal of the mask from its case to repair lighting, King Tut's beard was accidentally knocked off. A hasty repair by a nervous curator left a crust of dried epoxy glue on the beard (CLICK).

Friday, 23 January 2015

Charlotte Dumas

The Photographers' Gallery in London is currently closed for refurbishment. It reopens on 6 February with Charlotte Dumas: Anima and The Widest Prairies (CLICK). The latter is a film, while Anima is a collection of her photos of horses. Shown is Untitled from the series Anima (2012).

Denial In Davos

At the start of his televised speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Prince Andrew repeated denials of serious sexual impropriety made on his behalf by Buckingham Palace (CLICK). The trouble with denials is that the more you make them the more people think you have something to hide. His accuser is Virginia Roberts. She released this photo, which I have cropped and refocused, showing Prince Andrew with his arm around her waist. It proves they had a friendly relationship, but is her happy grin what you would expect to see on the face of an under-age sex slave forced into orgies? As for the rest of Prince Andrew's speech, forget it.