Friday, 31 August 2012

Wildlife Photos 2012

Here's a link to another slide show by Paul Kerley for BBC News, this one showing some of the top entries in the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition 2012: CLICK. Roz Kidman Cox, one of the judges, provides a voiceover which explains why some of these images were selected for the exhibition. Only 100 of the very best of 48,000 entries from 98 countries will be on display. The winners will be announced on 17 October at the awards ceremony. The exhibition opens at the Natural History Museum in London on 19 October and runs till 3 March 2013, priced £10 for adults and £5 for silver surfers (50% excellent). You can book tickets now (CLICK). Shown is Pester Power by Polish teenager Mateusz Piesiak, winner of the Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year award 2011.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Edward Lear Exhibition

Yesterday The Royal Society in London opened Edward Lear and the Scientists, which runs until 26 October, admission free (CLICK). This would be an excellent show for budding artists to visit before the school holidays end. Famous for his nonsense poetry, Lear was a very fine young artist, working professionally by age 16 (CLICK). BBC News has posted an interesting slide show by Paul Kerley with voiceover by Jonathan Ashmore, chair of the Royal Society library committee (CLICK). Shown is a detail of Lear's Eagle Owl, painted for The Birds of Europe by John Gould FRS.


I think I'm suffering from opening ceremony fatigue. I couldn't face an evening of the London 2012 Paralympic Games opening ceremony on Channel 4 yesterday, what with TV commercials as well; but I did watch the last hour and found it very moving, especially as there weren't any commercials during that hour. Enlightenment promoted science, books, Shakespeare and humanitarianism. A gigantic reproduction of Marc Quinn's Alison Lapper Pregnant put disability centre stage. Ironic that Alison's profound birth defects, caused by her mother's taking Thalidomide during pregnancy, are the product of science. I can't help wondering what countries like Pakistan that televised the show made of images of a huge naked armless woman. Will there be riots over her lack of a hijab? CLICK for a BBC slide show. Alison is also an artist (CLICK).

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Babies of the Borough

Advertising agency Ogilvy and Mather is trying a unique experiment with a parade of shops in Greens End, Woolwich, where some of the looting in the 2011 riots took place. The experiment is based on previous research which found that babies' faces promote a caring response in humans. The agency hired a collective of graffiti artists to paint the faces of local babies on the shutters of shops. When the shops shut, the babies faces are exposed. The experimental hypothesis is that the sight of babies faces will reduce anti-social behaviour in the area. The null hypothesis is that it won't make any difference. The experiment has been called Babies of the Borough. CLICK to watch a BBC video.

Sunday Times Winner

First Prize in The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2012 goes to Mark Elsmore for this detailed painting of a "wasteland" with the sarcastic title The Potteries National Park (2012). CLICK for a larger graphic and to read more about the winning artist. The exhibition of 92 paintings (out of almost 1,000 submitted this year) by 72 artists will take place at the Mall Galleries in London, from 17 to 22 September, admission free (CLICK). A must.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Sue Austin Ballet

This has got to be one of the most unusual photos I've ever seen. It shows disabled artist Sue Austin testing her prototype self-propelled underwater wheelchair, which she helped to develop in order to perform underwater ballet. Creating The Spectacle was commissioned by Unlimited, which financed disabled people to create groundbreaking performances in celebration of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. CLICK for technical details. CLICK for the website Freewheeling and an eerie video of Sue in the sea.

Monday, 27 August 2012

RA Keeper's House

The Royal Academy of Arts has announced plans to give its Keeper's House a £5.7m tart-up. Architects Long & Kentish will design the major renovations while Sir David Chipperfield RA will design the interiors. Shown is an artist's impression of one of the interiors, which looks very 1930s. The Keeper's House is due to open in the spring of 2013 (CLICK).

Cotman in Normandy

According to The Burlington Magazine of 1975, the exhibition Cotman in Normandy was staged that year in the Norwich Castle Museum. (John Sell Cotman was born and raised in Norwich and is a famous son of that city.) The autumn/winter biggy at the Dulwich Picture Gallery bears the same name and includes much of the same material. So why has it taken 37 years to bring this exhibition to London? Fashions in art change, is the simple answer, like winkle-picker shoes. Cotman is arguably England's finest watercolourist and in his day was more popular than Turner. The Dulwich exhibition features over 100 of Cotman's watercolours, drawings and sketches plus 20 studies by other artists who also visited Normandy, including Turner, Samuel Prout and Henry Edridge. It opens on 10 October and runs till 13 January 2013 (CLICK). Adult tickets cost £10, tickets for silver surfers £9 (90%). Shown is Cotman's Alencon (1823).

Barometer v Met Office

I often wonder how my old barometer can do better than the Meteorological Office when it comes to predicting the weather in London. For days BBC London News has been forecasting that Bank Holiday Monday will be a complete washout. Last night my barometer needle shifted from Change to Fair. Okay, today's weather is breezy, cool and cloudy and there are some spits of rain on my window, but it is hardly the washout predicted by the BBC. Despite its hi-tech graphics - a slight improvement on those magnetic clouds which used to fall off the map and make the forecaster jump - the BBC London forecast is about as scientific and reliable as a horoscope. Newsflash: the sun shines on Redbridge.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Armed Forces Art

The 78th exhibition of the Armed Forces Art Society runs from 28 August to 1 September at the Mall Galleries in London. All the artists are or were members of the British armed forces. There are some excellent landscapes, seascapes and wildlife paintings, example Linda Travers Smith's Flight (a bald eagle). CLICK for a preview of AFAS paintings. Also, I know at least two AFAS artists who regularly display fine bronze sculptures at this exhibition. Running alongside the show is AFAS Plus One: Out Of Line, which displays less traditional work. Admission to both exhibitions is free (CLICK).

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Notting Hill Carnival

Tomorrow sees the opening of The Notting Hill Carnival in west London. This is Europe's largest street festival, two days of ear-splitting noise, floats, food and dazzling costumes. Some of the flashier outfits cost thousands of pounds and are works of art in themselves. The weather forecast is good for Sunday, which is Children's Day, but wet for Bank Holiday Monday, which is Adults Day. CLICK for the official website. CLICK for the Time Out London Carnival route map.

Multiplied Art Fair

More prints, this time professional ones with starting prices of £100. The Multiplied Art Fair returns to Christie’s in South Kensington, the UK’s only contemporary print fair. Forty-one international contemporary galleries are booked to attend. It will be open to the public from 12 to 15 October, admission free (CLICK). The example shown is Francois Berthoud's V (Orange) 2011, a digital ink jet print in a limited addition of 25, from Fashion Illustration Gallery.

The Myth Factory

The Dulwich Picture Gallery continues its work with local groups of young people, helping them to create prints inspired by its exhibition Andy Warhol: The Portfolios, which continues until mid September (CLICK). The photo shows part of the Gallery Workshop with a girl inking lino cuts. The Myth Factory, part of the Gallery’s urban youth programme, aims to engage "hard-to-reach young people", beginning with the Redthread Youth Project (CLICK).

Friday, 24 August 2012

Justice League

The Man of Steel gets to snog Wonder Woman on the cover of DC Comics latest issue of Justice League, which goes on sale on 29 August. Writer Geoff Johns and artist Jim Lee, who created the sizzling cover, explained that the two superheroes are to become a "power couple", whatever that means. So, no one-night stand, kiddies. This is the real deal (CLICK). Poor old Lois Lane, kicked out by a flashy feminist in star-spangled knickers. Superman, shame on you.

May Fong's Crystal

Here's another beauty from May Fong Robinson: Crystal (2011). The stare of those eyes is really penetrating, almost accusatory. This terrific digital painting was created using PS CS5 & Intuos4 tablet. CLICK to view other beautiful images.

Rembrandt Lost In Post

It seems as though the Norwegian postal service is as efficient as Royal Mail. It has lost this Rembrandt etching of Lieven Willemsz van Coppenol, Writing Master (c. 1658) valued at up to £5,400 ($8,600). The Soli Brug Gallery in Greaaker, Norway, sent the etching by regular mail, because it wanted to avoid the cost of couriers and insurance. Bad move! The package couldn't be found. The gallery has been offered peanuts in compensation (CLICK). Live and learn.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Fresco Whoopsie

"Betty, I've done a whoopsie!" This is what happens when you allow Frank Spencer ... er ... Cecilia Gimenez to restore a fresco! Upset by the sad state of Ecce Homo (Behold the Man) by Elias Garcia Martinez, octogenarian Cecilia set to work with her paintbrush. The fresco has been admired by worshipers in the Sanctuary of Mercy Church near Zaragoza, Spain, for more than 100 years. Cecilia claims she had the priest's permission to carry out her paint job (CLICK).


Back to London. Still on the subject of Bronze, this is the name of the Royal Academy of Arts autumn biggy, which runs from 15 September to 9 December. This is an extremely ambitious cross-cultural exhibition spanning 5,000 years of bronze sculptures from all over the world on a scale never before attempted. Top is the famous Chimera of Arezzo (Etruscan c. 400 BCE). Left is Benvenuto Cellini's 16th Century masterpiece Perseus holding the head of Medusa. (A copy ordered by the 2nd Duke of Sutherland in about 1840 is being transported from the Trentham Estate: CLICK). Another masterpiece for the exhibition is Adriaen de Vries' Vulcan’s Forge (1611). Louise Bourgeois' Spider IV (1996) brings the show up to date. As you may well have guessed, the price of admission is stiff: adults £14, silver surfers £13 (93% diabolical), students £9, jobseekers (unemployed) £5. CLICK for further details and to book.

The Gates of Paradise

From Ennis the Menace (yesterday's post) to Lorenzo Ghiberti's Renaissance masterpiece The Gates of Paradise, London Art News gets around. Restorers have been working on these magnificent bronze doors - named in admiration by Michelangelo - for the last 27 years. The before and after photos give you a glimpse of the change in their appearance. Tourists in Florence haven't missed them, because copies were placed in the octagonal Baptistery of San Giovanni. The Gates of Paradise are now considered too precious to be reintroduced to the blight of modern Florentine air, so the plan is to keep them in a museum (CLICK for BBC News with a video). CLICK for a very high resolution panorama, but do note the warning about freezing your browser.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Ennis the Menace

DC Comics has celebrated Team GB's performance in the 2012 Summer Olympiad by publishing a special edition of The Beano featuring gold medallist Jessica Ennis in place of Dennis The Menace. A cartoon Jessica takes part in the Menace Heptathlon. The speech bubble reads: "You're No match for Ennis the Menace! I've got a gold in pulling pranks" (CLICK). Ho hum. I wonder if Jessica appreciates this honour DC Comics has bestowed on her.

Connecting Light

Will that overpriced nonsense the London 2012 Festival never end? 2000-year-old Hadrian's Wall is the next British monument to receive a Festival makeover. American art collective YesYesNo has been commissioned to tether 400 6ft-diameter weather balloons lit by thousands of light emitting diodes along the 73-mile stretch of Hadrian's Wall. It is claimed that Connecting Light will be the world's longest work of art. It lights up on Friday 31 August and Saturday 1 September (CLICK for best viewing spots). Shown is a public domain photo of Hadrian's Wall at Greenhead Lough, Northumberland, by Velella (2005).

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Giant's Causeway Flags

Would you pay £150,000 to have an area of outstanding natural beauty despoiled by more than 100 flags? That's what the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board have done, coughing up £75,000 each to pay German "artist" Hans Peter Kuhn to create an art installation thingy called Flags at the Giant's Causeway (CLICK). The flags are red on one side and yellow on the other, so they appear to change colour as the wind varies. Wow! At roughly £1,500 each, they should do something more than just hang there limply. This brings me to the asinine quote of the month: "What Hans Peter has achieved is having a conversation with the rocks themselves” (Cian Smyth, London 2012 creative programmer). Some achievement! Complete insanity.

E17 Art Trail

The E17 Art Trail 2012 descends on Walthamstow in east London from Saturday 1 September until Sunday 16 September. This is an annual event to showcase all sorts of arty things: screen-prints, woodblocks, pottery, jewellery, paintings and illustrations. Professional and amateur artists all over Walthamstow will open their doors to the public for viewing and sales. Watch out for the Trail Guide (front cover shown) in Walthamstow libraries from the beginning of September. CLICK for the official website and listings of exhibitions, events, workshops, refreshments and even toilets. Yes, you don't want you or your cherubs to be caught short while exploring the Art Trail.

Monday, 20 August 2012

National Geographic

BBC News has posted a slide show of the top entries in the National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest 2012. Cedric Houin of Brooklyn, New York, is the overall winner. There are some fabulous photos (CLICK). My favourite is Ken Thorne's photo Lost In Time - An Ancient Forest, showing a girl walking through an ancient forest of Baobab trees near the city of Morondava, west Madagascar. It looks like a painting for the cover of a science-fiction novel. Ken was awarded a merit in the Category Sense of Place. CLICK for the National Geographic Traveler Magazine website to see many more photos, but be warned it is slow, cumbersome and full of intrusive adverts.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Aircraft Nose Art

This weekend saw the 70th anniversary of the start of the USAAF heavy bombing offensive against Nazi Germany in World War II. The Eighth Air Force, known as the Mighty Eighth, consisted of bomber and fighter groups manned by 200,000 US servicemen, mostly based in East Anglia. What has this to do with art? The nose cones of the aircraft were painted with customized artwork. Here is Ill Wind? by Don Allen, a nose artist and crew chief with the Fourth Fighter Group, based at Debden in Essex. He created 100 such morale-boosting designs. A documentary film about WWII aircraft artists - Nose Art and Pin Ups - has been published on DVD, price £15.99 ($25) plus p&p (CLICK). BBC Norfolk has published an article about this collection of cheeky art and has included video clips and a slide show (CLICK).

Bibi la Purée

Here's another Picasso from 1901, painted when he was 20 years old. It's one you probably haven't seen before, because it usually lurks in a private collection. Portrait of Bibi la Purée is currently on loan to the National Gallery in London and has been put on display in Room 45, where the Gallery's Van Goghs and Cézannes hang out (CLICK). Entry is free.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Fake Or Fortune? II

Hot off the ArtDaily presses, here's the news we've all been waiting for: the second series of Fake Or Fortune? will begin on BBC1 on Sunday 16 September (CLICK). This news is so fresh that even the BBC hasn't found out about it! (My BBC search found only the first series.) Once again Fiona Bruce, Bendor Grosvenor and ace art sleuth Philip Mould will delve into the mysterious history of three works of art. Episode 1 is Degas: The Little Dancer. Is it worth half a million pounds or £200? Last year's programme on Winslow Homer flooded my blog with comments (CLICK).

David Beckham Pants

Soccer star David Beckham has taken a leaf out of Antony Gormley's book. Glittering 10-foot-tall silvery statues of David have popped up all over New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco (CLICK). As you can see, the lad is wearing nothing but his new line of sporting "designer" underwear. Not very flattering, David, but worth a cheeky smirk. I wonder what Posh thinks about them. David will be flaunting his shiny, bulging new underpants until 31 August.

Friday, 17 August 2012

FBA Futures Plus

The next two exhibitions at the Mall Galleries in London run from 21 to 25 August. In the new Threadneedle Space you'll find FBA Futures, the Federation's pick of this year's art graduates. Shown is River Jade's Behind Closed Doors. It looks like a photo montage to me; no details given. The Main and North Galleries will host The Hesketh Hubbard Art Society Annual Exhibition. This is London’s largest life-drawing society, which has been holding weekly drawing classes since 1930. Figure studies and portraits will be on display. Entry to this exhibition is free (CLICK).
Update: Behind Closed Doors is a laser woodcut.

Art of Building

The Art of Building international digital photography competition, now in its 3rd year, has revealed the 12 shortlisted entries (CLICK for a BBC slide show). The competition is run by the Chartered Institute of Building as a celebration of art in architecture. The public can vote for one of the 12 shortlisted entries (CLICK). My vote went to this arresting photo of an Overhanging Building in Berlin taken by Gonzalo Acuna from Uruguay. Oo-er.

Child With Dove Ban

I noted the sale of Pablo Picasso's Child With A Dove (1901) in early March (CLICK). Five months later Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has placed a temporary export ban on the daub. This follows a belated decision by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, which is run by Arts Council England. Groan! The Committee reckons the painting fulfils The Waverley Criteria: 1) it is so closely connected with our history and national life that its departure would be a misfortune, 2) it is of outstanding aesthetic importance, 3) it is of outstanding significance for the study of some particular branch of art, learning or history (CLICK). Picasso's daub fails all three criteria. Regular readers will know I've been puzzled by what makes a foreign work of art worth saving for the nation when genuine works of national heritage by British artists are allowed to go abroad willy-nilly. I believe I have the answer. There is a 4th, hidden Waverley Criteria: that the work must have been owned by a member of the British aristocracy, in this case the Aberconway family in Wales (CLICK).

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Morris Gallery Reopens

The William Morris Gallery in Lloyd Park, Forest Road, Walthamstow, London, E17 4PP, has reopened after a £4.4m refurbishment. £5m is needed to complete all the plans, but the interior looks great. The Gallery's new opening times are Wednesday to Sunday, 10am-5pm. Entry is free (CLICK). Shown is a detail from Praising Angel, a magnificent stained glass window. Local artists will also have exhibitions.
CLICK for a BBC London video in which Alice Bhandhukravi is shown round by Lorna Lee of Waltham Forest Council.

The Best Of Men

Still on the subject of the Paralympics, you might like to know that BBC Two is showing The Best Of Men this evening at 9pm. This is a 90-minute film about Dr Ludwig Guttmann's groundbreaking introduction of sport into the rehabilitation of paralysed WWII soldiers at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. The BBC describes it as an "entertaining drama". Critical translation: jokes with bite. Judging by a short film clip (CLICK) it looks worth the effort of switching on the TV. Makes a change! I'm puzzled by the fact that Auntie doesn't credit the script writer. Group effort? A woman?

Paralympics Latest

Here's Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby's Paralympic Torch (2012). I wondered what would happen for the Paralympics in London after the Olympic flame was extinguished. On 22 August scouts will use flint and steel to spark four flames atop the highest peaks of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland: Scafell Pike, Snowdon, Ben Nevis and Slieve Donard. (Does this include Girl Guides or are they afraid of breaking their fingernails on the flints?) The four new flames will be relayed to UK capital cities before being united at Stoke Mandeville, the birthplace of the Paralympic Games. The flame will then head for London to light the cauldron on 29 August (CLICK). If you're interested in cheering on the relay, LOCOG has published a detailed map of the route: CLICK.

Open House London

This year Open City presents the 20th Open House London, which takes place on 22 & 23 September (CLICK). Although billed as a festival of architecture, Open House London is our one chance in the year to view art treasures in buildings not normally open to the public. The Guide is now available to order from Open City or you can try your local library for a freebie. Web listings go live sometime today (CLICK). They weren't online when I visited at 11am this morning.
Update: the listings won't go online till Monday.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Olympic Mascots

Now that the Summer Olympiad is over, I've discovered the identities of those ghastly cyclops which have infested London in recent weeks (CLICK). On the left is Wenlock, named after the Shropshire town that helped inspire Pierre de Coubertin to launch the modern day Olympics. On the right is Mandeville, named after the town of Stoke Mandeville, where the Paralympics were founded. Both were cobbled together by Grant Hunter. Mayor Bouncy Boris persuaded 83 artists to paint these mascots with various designs, in order to set up Stroll, six individual discovery trails around the city. The two-metre tall monsters are being auctioned in aid of the Mayor’s Fund for London (CLICK).

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Klimt Illustrated

The Vienna Tourist Board is still trying to promote Gustav Klimt's 150th birthday. It has invited 9 street artists to paint their versions of Klimt's works in front of a live audience in London’s Grosvenor Gardens on Tuesday 21 August (CLICK). Not much point doing it in front of a dead audience. The finished works will be displayed in the Lazarides Gallery in Soho as a free public exhibition: Klimt Illustrated. Above is Klimt's Mother and Child.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Extreme Unction Appeal

The Art Fund has launched a public appeal to buy Nicolas Poussin's Extreme Unction for the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge (CLICK). This is one of a series of Seven Sacraments painted by Poussin from 1636 to 1639. BBC News has posted a fuzzy, chopped down graphic which makes you wonder what all the fuss is about (CLICK). I've posted a better graphic. CLICK to view a larger scale picture which shows the details of this painting. It is currently on display in The Fitzwilliam Museum. Its agreed value is £14m, but it has been offered to the Museum for just below £3.9m under HM Government’s Acceptance-in-Lieu scheme.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Gormley in Hamburg

Antony Gormley gets around. A few days ago he was in Rio de Janeiro, scaring citizens with his suicidal statues (CLICK). Now he's in Hamburg with his latest installation thingy Horizon Field Hamburg in Deichtorhallen. It's a floating black reflective structure that shifts to the movement of punters playing on it (CLICK for YouTube video). Gormley may know nothing about art, but he leads the way in exporting his codswallop to other countries. Remember that Export or die slogan? Now's the time.

Olympics End

The London Summer Olympiad 2012 is nearly over. The couch potatoes will have to find something else to gawk at. The independent Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 has declared it the greenest games ever, but muttered darkly about the "social ethics" of some of the sponsors (CLICK). I missed the individual all-round gymnastics, which is one of the more artistic events. Here is Chrystalleni Trikomiti of Greece in the qualification match at Wembley Arena. Below are my favourite moments in gold stamps. Top Jessica Ennis, Athletics Combined Women's Heptathlon, and Nicola Adams, Boxing Women's Fly Weight. Bottom: Andy Murray, Tennis Men's Singles, and Charlotte Dujardin, Equestrian Dressage Individual. First day covers are already appearing on eBay. You can order them from Royal Mail for £4.80 and they will be posted to you from the Olympic Stadium address (CLICK). Collectors' items. Royal Mail must be making a fortune.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Gormley in Rio

Antony Gormley is up to his old tricks again. Thirty-one iron casts of his naked self have appeared all over Rio de Janeiro. The Brazilian media call them "suicidal statues". As usual, worried residents have been calling the police. One joker has adorned an iron willy with a used condom. That's the stuff. Take the Mickey. Gormley's exhibition Still Being opened in the Bank of Brazil Cultural Centre (CLICK). It includes Critical Mass II (detail above). CLICK for a BBC News video.

Frogmore House

This year the annual opening of Frogmore House and Garden to the public will be on 18, 19 and 20 August. This 17th-century house in the magnificent private grounds of the Home Park of Windsor Castle was bought for Queen Charlotte, who designed its garden. Admission costs £8 for adults, £7 for silver surfers. CLICK for details and tickets.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Africa Village Shut

If you were thinking of visiting Africa Village in Kensington Gardens, forget it. This hospitality centre for African nations competing in the Olympic Games has been forced to close, because it owes suppliers hundreds of thousands of pounds (CLICK). There'll probably be a few more wars in the Dark Continent to decide who is going to pay. Meanwhile, African Olympians are defecting in droves. Three have absconded from Sudan, one of whom has already applied for asylum, and seven Cameroonian athletes have also vanished (CLICK). To see photos of what you missed in Africa Village CLICK. Not a lot, as you'll see. The Notting Hill Carnival is better.

Agatha Christie Memorial

Yesterday Westminster Council granted planning permission for an Agatha Christie Memorial to be erected in Covent Garden. The crime writer's play The Mousetrap has been running in London's theatreland since 1952, the world's longest-running stage production. There will be a gala performance on 25 November, the play's 60th birthday. The 8-feet-tall bronze memorial, with the author's profile by sculptor Ben Twiston-Davies, will be in place by the end of 2012 (CLICK).

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Picasso Nude Bared

Pablo Picasso's Nude Woman in a Red Armchair is the poster girl for Picasso and Modern British Art at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (CLICK). Edinburgh Airport received several complaints that the advertisement was rude, so decided to cover it up, a decision which the gallery branded as "bizarre". The airport had a rethink in light of this accusation and decided to uncover the nude and to hell with passenger complaints (CLICK). Is that an Olympic silver medal she's wearing?

Fanny Saved

The export ban on Edouard Manet's Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus (1868) ran out today. The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford reports that it has raised the £7.83m needed to buy the painting (CLICK). Why The Ashmolean and Culture Minister Ed Vaizey wanted this painting to remain in the UK is anyone's guess. It has nothing to do with British heritage and isn't of "outstanding cultural importance". It's merely a preparatory sketch of Fanny Claus for Manet's finished painting Le Balcon, which hangs in the Musee d'Orsay in Paris (CLICK). What about all the Turners, Constables and Pre-Raphaelites that are being flogged to foreigners? They are British heritage. Heard of them, Ed?

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Show Jumping Gold

A nail-biting jump off between Team GB's show jumping team - Nick Skelton, Peter Charles, Ben Maher and Scott Brash - and the Dutch team clinched Britain’s first gold in this event since 1952. Congratulations to them, but also to Bob Ellis, who designed the course to be jumped (CLICK). His fences feature iconic London landmarks, such as Downing Street, the British Museum and the Trafalgar Square lions. It's the most artistic and memorable show jumping course I've ever seen. He deserves his own gold medal. Shown is Scott Brash on Hello Sanctos jumping the Big Ben fence.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Bare Breasts Protest

There's no escaping the Olympics in London. On Friday a handful of French Femen activists tried out a new Olympic discipline they call Islamic Marathon. The object is to see how long you can sport your bare boobs before the fuzz turn up to collar you. Sadly the stopwatch was stolen by a Romanian pickpocket; so we don't know who won. (Just my little joke.) As you can see from the photo, Londoners didn't turn a hair. We've seen it all before. So what were these Femens baring their chests about? The message "No Sharia" on this woman's breasts gives you a hint. They were complaining about the International Olympic Committee's decision to allow women athletes from strict Islamic countries to compete in the Games (CLICK). Plonkers! Don't they realise that the IOC put Saudi Arabia in particular under pressure to include woman athletes in its team or be excluded from the Games (CLICK)? Three Arab countries included women in their teams for the first time this year. I don't see how you can complain about the IOC forcing misogynist Muslims to take a modest step in the right direction. Outcome: the fuzz arrested four topless protesters, covered their boobs and took them to a police station, where they were cautioned and released.