Words about pictures, and other things, too.

Read on!

  • Alfred Russel Wallace

    The death of Alfred Russel Wallace – 7 November 1913

    How and why do species change? Why do some occur in some places, but not in others? Why do they die out? These big questions didn’t scare intrepid British explorer, biologist and geographer Alfred Russel Wallace, who died on this aged 90. He wanted answers. Wallace’s achievements have since been obscured by those of Charles Darwin. But be in no

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  • Jane Elizabeth Hodgson

    The death of Dr Jane Elizabeth Hodgson – 23 October 2006

    There are many reasons why a pregnancy may be unwanted. A woman may have no access to contraception or already have too many mouths to feed. It may endanger her health, even her life. She may have been raped. The foetus may not be viable. No matter what the circumstances, the decision to terminate a pregnancy is one of the

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  • Amelia Earhart disappears – 2 July 1937

    “…first lady of the skies,  she had no guy holding her down, no one could clip her wings, she was no bird in the hand, she is no living thing now…” from the poem ‘Amelia Earhart’ by Patti Smith When 10-year-old Amelia Earhart saw an aircraft for the first time at the 1907 the Iowa State Fair, she wasn’t impressed.

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  • guernica

    Guernica – 26 April 1937

    On 26 April 1937, it was market day in Guernica, a small town in northern Spain considered to be the spiritual capital of Basque culture. In late afternoon, without warning or provocation, Luftwaffe aircraft swooped down over Guernica. Wave after wave bombarded the town with huge bombs and more than 3,000 incendiaries.

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  • iCan - a hand painted water can

    iCan – a self-portrait as a folk artist

    My iCan is a self-portrait in the folk art style; a picture of me in the form of all the things I cherish. It’s a decorated narrowboat watercan in the traditional canal art style, made of galvanised steel and brass, supplied by Black Country Metalworks. I could’ve chosen many objects to be the substrate of my self-portrait, a teapot, milk

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  • What is folk art?

    A few years someone described me as a folk artist. I’m not talking about music here, I’m talking about visual folk art. I took it as a compliment – straightforward art for people to enjoy. So what is folk art? Generally it’s native decorative or utilitarian art from an indigenous culture. So in British terms, it’s the kind of stuff

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  • johannes gutenberg

    The death of Johannes Gutenberg – 3 February 1468

    Where would humanity be without the stone axe, the wheel, the plough, the compass and the steam engine? Likewise the printing press, whose inventor, Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg, died on this day in 1468. “Yes but” I hear you bookish pedants cry, “didn’t the Chinese T’ang Dynasty have a method of printing from carved wooden blocks?” Indeed they

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  • Clogs. Wooden shoe know it

    Clogs: solid practical wooden footwear which used to be worn by people who worked on the land especially in the Netherlands and Sweden. I happened to acquire a pair and thought I’d give them the old ‘folk art’ treatment, just for a bit of fun. One turned out to be gift for a special friend who has a special interest

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  • The Battle of Hastings and the Norman Conquest – 14 October 1066

    The British Isles has a long history of invaders: Angles, Danes, Saxons, Vikings. But on the 28 September 1066, when William, Duke of Normandy, landed at Pevensey in Sussex an invasion force on this scale had not been since the Romans, a thousand years before. William’s fleet of ships contained perhaps 8,000 men and hundreds of horses. He meant business.

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  • Kate Bush

    Kate Bush live – Before the Dawn

    Thirty-five years after her previous live shows, Kate Bush stepped out onto the stage of  London’s Hammersmith Odeon to rapturous applause from an audience which included us. This was the 19th of 22  shows of “Before the Dawn”. I already knew which songs she would perform and in what order as we had found a recording of the show online

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  • Wharf Stream Way waymarker post

    In June, I submitted a design to be carved as a waymarker post  as part of the The Wharf Stream Way, a new footpath into the fields east of Eynsham, Oxfordshire. I had already designed the interpretation panel for the walk so I thought I’d take some of the motifs from that and compose a carvable design to fit on

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  • Paul Gauguin self portrait

    The death of Paul Gauguin – 8 May 1903

    “In art, all who have done something other than their predecessors have merited the epithet of ‘revolutionary’; and it is they alone who are masters” – Paul Gauguin When artist Paul Gauguin’s 54-year-old dead body was lowered swiftly into his grave on the remote Pacific island of Hiva Oa, it was already rotting fast and stinking in the sweltering tropical

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  • What is a drypoint: badgers and bluebells

    What is drypoint print? How do you make one? I explain in this blog.

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  • Van Gogh’s Tarascon Diligence at the Ashmolean

    Treasures from the Henry and Rose Pearlman collection Last week I went to Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum to see treasures from the Henry and Rose Pearlman collection in a show entitled Cezanne and the Modern.  The meat and potatoes of the show were a goodly number of watercolours by Paul Cézanne. There were fine paintings and sculptures by Toulouse-Lautrec, Manet, Degas

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  • Birding in The Gambia

    170 different species in just 10 days! Last week, just as the birds fly south to escape the British winter, so did we… to The Gambia. As well as lots of sunshine, we saw more than 170 species of birds (not being ‘listers’, we lost count after that)! Shockingly, Jane even enjoyed the walking! The trip was pretty exclusively to

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  • Squonk

    Side 1 track 3 of Genesis’ 1977 album Trick of the Tail tells the tale of the squonk, a mythical creature from American folklore. Listen here and read the lyrics. Legend has it that the creature is so ashamed of its hideous appearance, it hides deep in the forest and spends much of its time weeping. Hunters report that when

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