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plep Archive

15th March
Louis Wain: King of the Cat Artists.

Virginia Lee Burton (1909-1968). An illustrator's illustrated biography.
Via Women Children's Books Illustrators.

Rose Cecil O'Neill (1874-1944). 'Although Rose ONeill produced few childrens books, her accomplishments as an illustrator for children cannot be ignored. The elf-like imps known as Kewpies, appearing in magazines and books and as dolls, caught the imagination of Americas youth in a way that only some one of such flamboyance and eccentricity could produce. '

Indian Drawings, 16th to 19th century.
'Over the post forty years, Indian 'miniature' paintings have become increasingly popular in India and the West, among art scholars, collectors, artists and others, on account of their meticulous workmanship, passionately warm and vibrant scheme of colours, and for their variety of styles and themes. Yet, these very qualifies tend to obscure the charm underlying the colour surfaces covering the drawing. Eclipsed by the dazzling Indian 'miniatures', drawings by the same painters have languished in comparative obscurity. In truth, few connoisseurs of Indian miniature paintings, which are becoming something of a fad, have had access to good drawings. Although Coomaraswamy's two 'lndian Drawings' monographs of 1910 and 1912 hoped they would be 'welcomed as a revelation of an exquisite but hitherto almost unknown art, enough brilliant examples were not available to him to warrant his enthusiasm. Even during the early 1950's, where miniatures flooded the art market from the Indian palace godowns and from English country homes, there were no drawings, for they were part of the artists studio and not meant for the patrons ... '
Via the Jagdish and Kamla Mittal Museum of Indian Art, Hyderabad.

Indian Folk Paintings, 15th to 19th century.

Indian Sculpture and Temple Ornamentation.

Gods, Kings and Tigers: The Art of Kotah. 'The Hindu state of Kotah, about two hundred miles southwest of New Delhi, was founded in 1624 and quickly became one of the most influential Rajput artistic centers. Under the patronage of warrior-kings who allied themselves with the Mughal emperors in Delhi, a school of court painting arose that blended Hindu and Muslim artistic traditions into a distinct new visual style. These vibrant paintings, mostly executed in opaque watercolors, addressed religious, political and literary themes. Some were used to visually guide an elaborate liturgical tradition for Hindu gods housed in the royal palace or visually convey the divine authority of rulers; others served as documents of courtly interest, detailing the specifics of important battles, hunting expeditions, marriages and political alliances ... '

The Planctus for William Longsword. A mourning poem for an ancestor of William the Conqueror.

The Life of Edward the Confessor. 'A masterpiece of mid thirteenth-century English illumination, the present manuscript preserves vital evidence for the study of the hagiographical writings about St Edward sponsored by Henry III (1216-72), and also for the complexity and sophistication of English pen and wash narrative art in this period. The text, entitled in the first rubric La estoire de seint aedward le rei translatee de latin, is based upon Aelred of Rievaulx's twelfth-century Latin Life, written around the time of the saint's canonisation in 1161. The Life tells how Edward was exiled as a boy during the Danish occupation, and how his rule proved of benefit to the English people; it describes his visions and miracles, his patronage of Westminster Abbey and the manner of his death, before covering the downfall of his successor, Harold, and the eventual opening of the king's tomb. '
View the manuscript.

Wrapped in Pride: Ghanaian Kente and African American Identity.
'The cloth called kente, made by the Asante peoples of Ghana and the Ewe peoples of Ghana and Togo, is the best known of all African textiles. Kente's renown has spread internationally, so that it is now one of the most admired of all fabrics. This strip-woven cloth began in the former Gold Coast of West Africa as festive dress for special occasions -- traditionally worn by men as a kind of toga and by women as an upper and lower wrapper. Besides its well-known use as spectacular apparel, kente also appears in many other important forms of regalia among the Asante and Ewe, including drums, shields, umbrellas, and fans. '
'Over the past forty years the cloth has been transformed into hats, ties, bags, and many other accessories worn and used on both sides of the Atlantic. Individual kente strips are especially popular in the United States when sewn into liturgical and academic robes or worn as a "stole." Kente patterns have developed a life of their own, appropriated as surface designs for everything from Band-Aids and balloons to beach balls and Bible covers. Kente, for many, bridges two continents, evoking and celebrating a shared cultural heritage. '

A Salute to African Headware.

Claiming Art | Reclaiming Space. Post- apartheid art from South Africa.

A Tribute to Her Father. 'Sokari Douglas Camp was born in 1958 in Buguma, Nigeria, a large Kalabari town in the Niger Delta. She moved to England at a young age to attend school, but returned to Nigeria frequently to visit her family and participate in the traditional activities of Kalabari life. She now lives and works in London. Kalabari culture fascinates Douglas Camp. Employing modern sculptural techniques, she creates large, semi-abstract figurative works that are inspired by the sounds, movements and colors of Kalabari masquerades, funerals, plays, regattas and festivals. As a product of Africa and the West, her sculptures are expressions of a unique creative vision, not mere translations of Kalabari events. Kalabari women, as most women throughout Africa, are not allowed to carve wood or sculpt in steel and their roles in masquerades are limited. Douglas Camp crosses the boundaries of male and female domains, just as she transcends geographic boundaries.'

Favourite Poem Project.

A Merchant's Wedding Portrait. Poem.

A Passion Play. Poem.

Rayograph, Man Ray, 1922.

Store, Avenue des Gobelins, 1925.

Lace, 1845.

Jupiter. Wonderful image.

We Were Humans. Interactive documentary about war.

CND: In the Event of War. 'On the following Saturday, go to Whitehall at 11am for a CND protest ... Then at 12 noon, join the demonstration from the Embankment to Hyde Park, jointly organised with Stop the War Coalition. The date for this looks most likely to be Saturday 22 March. '

Amnesty International: Iraq: The Human Rights Consequences. 'Amnesty International is deeply concerned that the current human rights and humanitarian situation in Iraq may rapidly deteriorate in case of military action. In particular, there is a risk of renewed human rights abuses by the Iraqi authorities, armed opposition groups, other parties involved in the military operations, and reprisals on ethnic or other grounds. There is therefore a clear need for close scrutiny of, and expert advice on, the human rights situation in Iraq ... '
'In the event of military intervention in Iraq, Amnesty International will be holding a vigil in Parliament Square, London, to take place on the first working day after the start of conflict. '
Petition to Tony Blair, asking him to consider the human consequences of war.

Active Resistance to the Roots of War (ARROW): Protest in the Event of an Attack on Iraq.

Reclaim the Bases.

CivilDisobedience.org.uk 'is a resource for people who want to make their voice heard using non-violent direct action in the honorable tradition of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, the Diggers, the Levellers, CND and others. '
Includes '198 methods of nonviolent action', from pranks and 'lysistratic nonaction' (i.e. sex boycott) to mock funerals, excommunication and collective disappearance. The site also has an 'email-your-MP/ newspaper' facility.
Thoreau's 'Civil Disobedience'.
"When the country is ruled with a light hand, the people are simple. When the country is ruled with severity the people are cunning." - Lao Tsu.
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14th March
The Levellers and the Tradition of Dissent by Tony Benn.
'The Levellers were early christian radicals whose ideas helped to shape the American and French revolutions, and inspired generations of socialists.'

Treasure Island 'is a tropical paradise off the Cape York Peninsula, Northern Australia. It is inhabited by Mick & Jude, artisans from way back. In their secret hideaway they toil, sometimes for hours, to create art from the remains of that doll, whos head you shaved when you where an eight-year-old looking for kicks, and from the other detritus of the modern world that washes up on the island beach ... '

Minds Wide Open 'serves people considered by some to have disabilities by providing creative outlets for self-expression and opportunities to participate in the larger community, resulting in the artists becoming effective self-advocates and active citizens. '

Pages from Steven Schomberg's Notebook.

Outsider Art: L'Art Brut ... Uncivilized Freedom. "I want to replace Western art with that of the jungle, the lavatory, the mental institution--l'art brut".

Folklore: An Introduction.

ZiZo 'is a workshop which is part of the Plaverijn Foundation, the Plaverijn Foundation offers daytime occupation for mentally handicapped people in the province of Utrecht.'

Hospital Audiences, Inc. 'a not-for-profit organization founded in 1969 by Michael Jon Spencer to provide access to the arts to culturally isolated New Yorkers.'
'HAI service recipients include people with mental and physical disabilities, mentally retarded/developmentally disabled persons, bed-confined/wheelchair-users, visually and hearing-impaired individuals, the homeless, the frail elderly, youth at risk, participants in substance abuse programs, persons with HIV/AIDS and individuals in correctional facilities. Since its inception, HAI has reached an audience totaling more than 10 million at more than 309,200 cultural events. HAI's work is made possible by city and state agencies as well as foundation, corporate and individual support ... '

Images of Power and Identity. 'This exhibition introduces the visual arts of Africa south of the Sahara. While it is not intended to be a comprehensive installation, it is a presentation of some of the most familiar and visually compelling imagery from various cultural groups. Included are figures, masks, pottery, and jewelry, works of art that were associated with divination, altars, mask performances, rites of passage, and items of regalia and personal adornment. Aesthetic, thematic, technical and historic concerns have been considered in selecting the works of art. '

The Art of the Personal Object. 'The phrase "African art," often elicits thoughts of anthropomorphic sculpture and masks made of wood. This is not an inappropriate response, for African artists have produced countless masterworks of three-dimensional figurative sculpture. If, however, one thinks of other elements of visual culture, that is to say other forms that are readily accessible for visual examination and appreciation, then one also begins to consider notions of design-the artful design of utilitarian forms. '
'This exhibition celebrates the creativity of African artists who have made utilitarian objects of great beauty. Made to fulfill a specific function, each object was also skillfully conceived to provoke visual and tactile delight. Collectively, these are objects that were meant to be both used and seen. '

The Ancient West African City of Benin.

The Artistry of African Currency. 'Throughout history, many different objects have been used to facilitate trade for goods and to measure wealth. Today, we usually think of dollars and coins when we define what we regard as money, although much commerce is carried out without any physical currency at all. Value is counted by entries in bank and credit card accounts, and the transfer of money often takes place through electronic impulses between computers. Objects have served the same purposes as well, in other times and places. '

Secrets of the Ice, an Antarctic expedition.
'Antarctica is a place like no other. Ice and snow cover 98% of the continent while high mountain peaks and a few other bare rocky areas make up the only visible land. It is a region of extremes: the coldest, windiest, driest, and highest of all the continents. Stormy waters of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans surround Antarctica keeping it isolated and alone at the bottom of the world. '
'Only a few small plants and insects can survive on this harsh and rugged continent but many animals thrive in the surrounding waters. Fish, krill, penguins, seals, whales, and many kinds of sea birds call Antarctica their home, however, the freezing temperatures and months of darkness make life for its few inhabitants an eternal battle for survival.'
'For centuries, Antarctica has been a destination for exploration and discovery but our scientific knowledge of the continent stems from the research carried out during the International Geophysical Year (IGY) in 1957-58. During the IGY, scientists from around the world established stations across the continent and surrounding islands to study earthquakes, gravity, magnetism, oceans, and solar activity. The first complete weather charts for Antarctica were completed during the IGY while other scientists measured the thickness of the ice cap and studied the shape of the land. The cooperation and goodwill throughout the IGY led to the negotiation of a treaty to protect Antarctica ... '

Stone Breakers, Le Raincy, Seurat.

At the Milliner's, Degas.

Foliage, Cezanne.

Images from the Museum of Chinese History, Beijing.

Chinese Snuff Bottles.

Chinese Wool Carpets.

Chinese Embroidery.

Where Is Raed?, in Iraq: An air of normality.

An Open Letter to President Bush from Jesus, via Unknown News.
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13th March
Treasures of a Lost Art. Italian manuscript painting of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
'This exhibition presents to the public for the first time one of the largest and most impressive private collections of Italian manuscript leaves assembled after the First World War (1914-18). '
The art of manuscript illumination.
Highlights.

The Gilded Age: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. 'In 1873, Mark Twain wrote a popular novel in which he described the Gilded Age as America's "golden road to fortune." This period, more than any other time in America's history, aspired to European ideals of aristocracy and patronage with unprecedented collaborations between wealthy American patrons and artists. '
'This exhibition features 57 paintings and sculptures by artists who brought a new sophistication and elegance into American art from the 1870s through the 1920s. Wealthy industrialists eager to acquire culture began to collect the works of American artists who had achieved international recognition. '
Objects in the exhibition.

Visible Earth. Images, visualisations and animations, from NASA.

Iridescent Clouds.

Identity of the Sacred: Two Nigerian Shrine Figures. 'Throughout the world, human beings wear symbols that help identify their relationships to others in a group, in society and to the world at large. For example, stripes and medals indicate an individual is a member of the military holding a specific rank; a white uniform, a nurse; designs applied to ones face or body, an individual who belongs to an organized social club. In Africa, spirits are personified and given attributes similar to those that identify their human counterparts. The Igbo and Urhobo peoples, who live in southeastern Nigeria, carve wooden shrine figures (alusi and edjo, respectively) that represent tutelary deities and ancestors. The adornments, scarification, color, surface treatment and gestures on these figures are hallmarks of identity. Thus, hairstyles, facial or body decorations and accessories, such as jewelry, tell us who the alusi and edjo figures are and why they are important in their respective cultures. '

Audible Artworks: Selected African Musical Instruments. 'Africa and music are integrally linked, through time and throughout the continent, in our perceptions of Africa. From birth until death, music complements African life. Musicians and their instruments were depicted in the pharaohs tombs of ancient Egypt. Today, they can be heard in modern nightclubs. They can set the character of a masquerade performance, rousing the spirits to appear. They can sound the rhythms for dancers. The sound of the historians chant, the Islamic call to prayer and the hunters whistle literally add other notes. Some performances are solos; some are part of an ensemble. Some musicians are professional; some are amateurs. The musical instruments are just as variedin size, materials and degree of ornamentation. This exhibition offers a glimpse of those special musical instruments that are also works of art.'

The Great Wave at Kanagawa, by Hokusai.
'The preeminence of this printsaid to have inspired both Debussy's "La Mer" and Rilke's "Der Berg"can be attributed, in addition to its sheer graphic beauty, to the compelling force of the contrast between the wave and the mountain. The turbulent wave seems to tower above the viewer, whereas the tiny stable pyramid of Mount Fuji sits in the distance. The eternal mountain is envisioned in a single moment frozen in time ... '

Avalokiteshvara, Angkor period.

Night-Shining White, Tang dynasty.
'Han Gan, a leading horse painter of the Tang dynasty (618907), was known for portraying not only the physical likeness of a horse but also its spirit. This painting, the most famous work attributed to the artist, is a portrait of Night-Shining White, a favorite charger of the emperor Xuanzong (712756). The fiery-tempered steed, with its burning eye, flaring nostrils, and dancing hooves, epitomizes Chinese myths about imported "celestial steeds" that "sweat blood" and were really dragons in disguise. This sensitive, precise drawing, reinforced by delicate ink shading, is an example of "baihua" (white painting) a term used in Tang texts on painting to describe monochrome painting with ink shading, as opposed to full color painting ... '

Weaving the Fabric of the Cosmos. Modern Maya preserve ancient traditions.

Palenque. 'Welcome to Mexico's Palenque. This website, presented by the Pre-Columbian Art Research Institute, Merle Greene Robertson and Mesoweb, hosts the official homepage of a current archaeological dig at this classic Maya site.'

The Photographs of Jorge Perez de Lara. A survey of Mesoamerican cultures.
'One of seventeen known colossal heads for which Olmec culture is famed, this one was found in the major Olmec site of San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan. Scholars are divided between those who think these are portraits of rulers and those who think they may be the heads of decapitated enemies or ballplayers. '

Made in Sheffield: The Sheffield Metal Trades. 'The manufacture of steel, cutlery and edge tools made Sheffield one of the nation's great industrial cities of the 19th century. Such was its reputation that the term 'Made in Sheffield' became synonymous with quality and craftsmanship, and every household in the country, as well as many throughout the world, possessed goods produced in the city. The metal trades dominated the local economy, giving employment to thousands of men and women, and creating a distinctive industrial landscape. Today, large-scale steel and cutlery production continues, although they are no longer Sheffield's primary employers.'
Via English Heritage Stories.

Coal: Architecture and Community. 'The location of mines, and therefore of mining communities, has been determined by geological conditions. This has meant that many mining communities have stood apart from the rest of the industrial population. Until the mid 19th century the mining industry did not generally attract intensive capital investment, and this was reflected in the quality of housing and facilities provided. '
'With the expansion of the coal industry in the second half of the 19th century, mining companies often found themselves obliged to provide housing to attract miners. At first this was of notoriously poor quality, with the exception of housing provided by a few philanthropic mine owners; but attitudes, followed by legislation, began to change ... '

Domestic Service in Victorian and Edwardian England. 'Domestic service was a major employer in Britain, and continued to employ large numbers until World War II: in 1901 over 1.5 million people were in domestic service. Their duties were arduous but essential. With few labour-saving appliances, everything was done by hand - from laying the grate in the morning, through cleaning and cooking, to the laundry. A large house required a large staff in order to run from day to day, while even a modest middle class home would employ one or two servants. '
'There was a strict hierarchy among servants, with each knowing their place. It was also a very stereotyped world, in which some tasks were seen as approriate for women and others for men. In larger households, the duties were divided between the housekeeper and the butler. The housekeeper was responsible for 'domestic' activities, particularly cooking and cleaning. The butler waited on the household and guests and looked after the wine cellar and silverware. In a smaller household, these divisions might be less clear cut ... '

Granite Quarrying on Dartmoor.

Northamptonshire Boot and Shoe Industry. 'The wholesale boot and shoe industry has a presence in many parts of England, but nowhere has it shaped the built environment so decisively as in Northamptonshire. Besides Northampton, Wellingborough, Kettering and Rushden, many smaller settlements - Long Buckby, Earls Barton, Higham Ferrers, Wollaston, Raunds, Burton Latimer and others - owe much of their historic character to the industry. Before the middle of the 19th century it was carried on almost exclusively by 'outworking' in the home. The invention of the sewing machine led to increasing mechanisation and the adoption of factory production. In the short term, however, rising productivity in mechanised processes increased the demands on the outwork sector. Hence the proliferation of small and medium-sized factories, usually of three storeys, was accompanied by the building of hundreds of purpose-built outworkers' workshops, the two building types forming part of the same chain of production. In the 1890s and 1900s, faced with stiff competition from America, the greater part of the industry adopted fully mechanised production, and with it a preference for large, often single-storeyed, factories. In the 20th century the industry consolidated around fewer and larger firms, but some of its old diversity and fluidity - including remnants of outworking - have remained ... '

The Tate & Lyle Sugar Silo, Huskisson Dock, Liverpool.
'Since the 17th century the amount of sugar used by Europeans has soared. Its use, particularly in the 'new' drinks of tea, coffee and chocolate, and later in hot puddings, helped sugar to become an everyday commodity imported in large quantities to satisfy demand. '
'The sugar producers Tate & Lyle commissioned the Cementation Company to build a new, state-of-the-art silo at the Huskisson Dock site in Liverpool. This enormous project, which started in 1955, took about two and a half years to complete. The silo was built of reinforced concrete with a pre-stressed concrete floor, and comprised 12 sections each supported by six external ribs. A photographic record of the construction process was kept and is reproduced here. '

Workers' Housing. 'Many buildings that were home to ordinary people were made of cheaper and less robust materials than 'high status' sites, such as castles and palaces, and as a result these buildings rarely survive for the lengths of time seen with stone constructions. Furthermore, people often had to move into areas to find work, just as they do today, and this too meant that they would tend to build less permanent housing. Archaeology can tell us where ancient settlements were located, but few workers' houses are left standing that date back further than about 1800. This means that the buildings that remain are largely from a time when England was becoming an industrial nation. '
'As the Industrial Revolution gained momentum over the 18th century the size of settlements grew considerably. Confronted by the squalor that accompanied early industry many of the more well-off town dwellers moved into more spacious accommodation in the country. Their houses were demolished and the land that they had previously inhabited was frequently divided into plots for new and smaller dwellings ... '

Public Papers of the Presidents. 'The Public Papers of the Presidents series was begun in 1957 in response to a recommendation of the National Historical Publications Commission. Noting the lack of uniform compilations of messages and papers of the Presidents before this time, the Commission recommended the establishment of an official series in which Presidential writings, addresses, and remarks of a public nature could be made available.'

Airstrike! The Pentagon simplifies media relations. (Register) 'Should war in the Gulf commence, the Pentagon proposes to take radical new steps in media relations - 'unauthorised' journalists will be shot at. Speaking on The Sunday Show on Ireland's RTE1 last sunday veteran war reporter Kate Adie said she had been warned by a senior Pentagon official that uplinks, i.e. TV broadcasts or satellite phones, that are detected by US aircraft are likely to be fired on. '
'Bush pere's Iraq war featured tight control of the media, but the current administration intends to go rather further. According to Adie (who, overseas readers should be aware, is effectively a saint in the UK), the Pentagon is vetting journalists who propose to cover the war, and is taking control of their comms equipment. This presumably will ease the logistics of managing the hacks quite considerably, because if the US has control of all the gear, then any gear it doesn't know about that starts broadcasting is presumably a target ... '
Partial transcript: Pentagon threatens to kill independent reporters in Iraq.
Kate Adie is one of Britain's most distinguished journalists. To understand the kind of person she is, and the kind of professional ethics she represents, here are some of her reflections on the Tiananmen Square massacre, which she covered courageously for the BBC.

It's been commented before that the groovy blue colour scheme on this page has been known to burn a few people's eyes. So should I change the colour scheme to boring old black-on-white to prevent eye-burn? Or is the blue now characteristic of the page? (It used to be black, you know). Let me know your thoughts!
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