Pictures, thoughts,words and opinions

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  • Acapulco teapot

    Magic portal teapot

    Two years ago on a visit to Chile we visited the Santiago house of poet Pablo Neruda. Known as the Chilean ‘Shakespeare’ and revered as that nation’s conscience, he was a collector of really interesting stuff, which is on display in his former home, now a museum. Guided from room to room, we admired the eclectic architecture, the magnificent paintings,

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  • Antony Gormley – Another Place

    We happened to be driving from Cumbria to North Wales yesterday and it occurred to me that it would a good chance to swing by to see Antony Gormley’s sculptural installation ‘Another Place’. Gormley’s work features 100 life size cast iron sculptures of his own body which have been installed on a 2 mile stretch of the wide sandy beach

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  • To Kill A Mockingbird

    Harper Lee publishes To Kill A Mockingbird – 11 July 1960

    “…Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. “Your father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing … but sing their hearts out

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  • Emma's tattoo

    Skin deep

    My paintings have, quite literally, been getting under the skin of two admirers of my work. I was sent photos by two young women who had, quite independently of each other, had my paintings tattooed on their bodies! Emma from Oxford who has recently completed a natural sciences degree was drawn to my painting of starlings in flight called ‘Murmuration’.

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  • Edward Lear – bird artist

    Today we visited the Happy Birthday Edward Lear exhibition at the Ashmolean in Oxford. Edward Lear is best known for his nonsense verse, (who hasn’t heard of the Owl and the Pussycat?) and although this is quite brilliantly original and what he’s best remembered for, I especially wanted to see his paintings of birds. Woo! They didn’t disappoint! His exquisite

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  • A visit to Hockney’s East Yorkshire

    Did you see the exhibition of David Hockney’s paintings at the Royal Academy earlier this year? Many of the pictures were of the landscape of East Yorkshire wolds near Bridlington where he lives. If you have never been to East Yorkshire you won’t know that it is probably the best kept secret in England. The coastal cliffs are alive with

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  • Joseph Nicéphore Niépce

    Joseph Nicéphore Niépce and the first photograph

     Look at the camera and say ‘cheese’ and ‘thank you’ to Joseph Nicéphore Niépce who died on this day in 1833, for it was Niépce who changed the way we view the world. Born in France 1765 into a middle-class family Niépce was well-educated and comfortably off and from 1801 ran the family estate. He became a ‘gentleman of science’

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  • The extinction of the Great Auk – 3 July 1844

    The Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis) was once a common and magnificent sight in the sparkling waters of the North Atlantic. About 30 inches (80cm) tall and weighing in at a whopping 11lbs (5kgs), this handsome bird was the northern equivalent of the penguin. Its closest living relative is the razorbill which has a similar range to the Great Auk. The

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  • Dr John Alexander Tomlinson: obituary

    Plant pathologist, virologist, saviour of the British watercress industry, BSc, MSc, PhD, DSc My father, who died on Tuesday 12 June 2012, was born into a working class family in Birmingham in 1927. What he lacked materially in early life was made up for in brains, courage and determination. He was the son of Ellen Mary Mackie, from Worcester, and

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  • The Pill first becomes available to American women – 9 May 1960

    “No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother” – Margaret Sanger The most revolutionary and liberating act for women is surely the availability of The Contraceptive Pill. Before The Pill contraception was a messy, hit-and-miss, often outlawed business. Women in the Ancient World fashioned vaginal tampons from a cocktail

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  • The death of Captain Robert Falcon Scott – 29 March 1912

    In the 1960s space was the final frontier. But just 50 years earlier, the final frontier was the South Pole. One hundred years ago today, his two companions lying frozen to death next to him, 43-year-old Captain Robert Falcon Scott, died in a tent in Antarctica, sheltering from a blizzard which had raged for nine days. Yes they had made

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  • David Hockney with his painting the arrival of spring

    David Hockney: A Bigger Picture

    David Hockney’s exhibition A Bigger Picture at The Royal Academy blew me away. I have loved Hockney for 33 years, not just as an artist, but for his curiosity and intellect, for investigating the boundaries of seeing and perception, and for just being a bloody nice human being. He sticks to his righteous and honest principles, works hard and gets

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  • John Piper at Blenheim Palace

    I was unfeasibly delighted when I heard that a number of paintings by John Piper (1903 – 1992)  were to be shown at Blenheim Palace, just five miles from my home. My mum and stepfather work there as guides so I had a guest pass to view the show. A giant of 20th century British art Although John Piper is

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  • The death of Captain James Cook – 14 February 1779

    “Do just once what others say you can’t do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again.” Whatever you may think about British colonial expansion, its impact and subsequent noxious effects, you have to admire the bravery, spirit and ambition of farm labourer’s son Captain James Cook. When he sailed away from Blighty in the 18th century it

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  • The death of Marie Stopes – 2 October 1958

    “I have some things to say about sex, which, so far as I am aware, have not yet been said … things which seem to me to be of profound importance to men and women who hope to make their marriage beautiful.” When my grandmother married in September 1918, she knew nothing about how babies were made. She thought perhaps

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  • Emmeline Pankhurst

    The death of Emmeline Pankhurst – 14 June 1928

    Today, we remember one of the most important British women of the 20th century who died on this day, 1928. Sisters! If you have ever voted in an election, thank Emmeline Pankhurst. And if you have ever decided not to vote in an election, you can thank Emmeline for having that choice. And Brothers! You can thank Emmeline too: for freeing

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