Posts Tagged "creative"

Je Suis Charlie: The People want Peace

Posted by on Jan 11, 2015

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death

your right to say it.”

– Voltaire –


“Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men”… the songs of Christmas were still fresh in the collective memory when two masked gunmen armed with AK-47s and other weapons attacked the Paris offices of the French Satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, killing twelve people and wounding eleven others.

Another gunman took hostages at a kosher supermarket in a related incident, with a total of 20 people killed, (including 3 terror suspects) and 21 others injured between the 7th and 9th of January 2015 in the deadliest terrorist attack in France in over 50 years.

Charlie Hebdo is a weekly newspaper that has irreverently satirised the extreme right, Catholicism, Islam, Judaism, politics, and culture for years, no doubt offending plenty of people along the way. The killings of writers and artists and unarmed, innocent citizens raised many issues, some of them regarding freedom of expression – should it be allowed? Should people be allowed to silence the views of others with whom they disagree – either through repressive laws or by killing them?


The immediate reaction from cartoonists around the world was the #Je Suis Charlie campaign on Twitter in with pencils and pens responding to weapons and terrorist threat in a thousand creatively thought-provoking ways was a vivid demonstration of how the pen can indeed be mightier than the sword. Those images will be speaking eloquently for a hundred years in a hundred languages.

Possibly the simplest response of all was from Christian Adams from London’s Telegraph where the title: EXTREMIST APPROVED CARTOON was set into the frame of a completely blank cartoon panel.

The violence was hate-fuelled, racist and motivated by a grotesquely distorted vision of religion. In a remarkable response over 1.5 million people took to the streets in Paris today in what has been called the “march against hatred”. People from all backgrounds, religions and colours joined  in the peaceful show of solidarity which, along with simultaneous marches across the country turned into the largest demonstration in the history of France.

The attacks raised other issues as well.


After 9/11 the USA declared its “War on Terror”
Today, when most public services are experiencing damaging cuts in the name of Austerity, the War on Terror is one budget which has been declared untouchable. It has already cost trillions of dollars and caused millions of deaths and unimaginable suffering.
The only apparent success of  the war on terror has been in creating a climate of political fear and enabling the US military establishment to award itself almost unlimited access to taxpayers money.

Tom Engelhardt  Professor of Journalism at University of California, Berkeley, in a an opinion piece in the Huffington Post, described the US’s response to the 9/11 bombings and its War on Terror as a total failure in reducing terrorism. He points out that in fact it transformed global jihadism from “a microscopic movement on this planet” to the number-one foreign policy concern.


The man in the street does not want violence or war, as the march in Paris today showed, and the marches around the world before the invasion of Iraq showed.. (and the examples go on and on…)

But war can prove extremely profitable to those dealing in weapons of death.

The top five countries profiting from the arms trade are the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council: the USA, UK, France, Russia, and China.

  1. USA – 44% –  $220.608 Billion Dollars – mostly to Developing Countries
  2. Russia – 17% – $83.323 Billion Dollars – mostly to Developing Countries
  3. France – 8% – $41.96  Billion Dollars – mostly to Developing Countries
  4. UK – 5% – $27.037 Billion Dollars – mostly to Developing Countries
  5. China – 4% – 17.808 Billion Dollars – to Developing Countries

So as we sit back and contemplate the amazing scenes we witnessed in Paris today and all that they represented – a combined voice against hatred, a call for peace and tolerance, the choice of individuals to care for other human beings they have not even met, a unified vote to respect the values of  Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood…

Possibly at this time one of the questions we should be contemplating is whether these values are also the priorities of those who call themselves our leaders.
Or whether they have other priorities.

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 Sulawesi Cave Art Changes Understanding of Creative History

Posted by on Oct 9, 2014

 The Oldest Hand Stencil in the World and one of the Oldest Figurative Depictions in the World” 

Cave paintings in Indonesia have been dated from 30,000 to over 40,000 years old, making them some of the oldest artwork in existence.
“It has just been announced that cave paintings in Maros have now been dated as being about 40,000 years old. Dr Maxime Aubert, of Griffith University in Queensland, Australia, said that the minimum age for the outline of a hand was 39,900 years old, which made it “the oldest hand stencil in the world” and added, “Next to it is a pig that has a minimum age of 35,400 years old, and this is one of the oldest figurative depictions in the world, if not the oldest one.”

The paintings are in caves in Sulawesi (formerly known as Celebes, in Indonesia. It is the 11th largest island in the world, originally formed by the collision of the Asian and Australian tectonic plates. Sulawesi is believed to be part of the land bridge via which Australia and New Guinea were settled more than 40,000 years ago.

The thing that makes the revised dating of these artworks of particular interest is the fact that they include figurative representations of animals. This indicates perceptual and intellectual developments in the artists which enables them to interpret their world creatively and express their interpretation through the medium of art.

Similar images as old as these have up to now only been found in Western Europe. It has been presumed that early humans migrated from Africa across the still-linked continents, to inhabit Europe and only developed these skills once they had settled in the new continent. The discovery and dating of the images in the Sulawesi Caves will inspire a re-evaluation of how, where and why the ability for abstract thought and figurative artistic expression developed.

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People’s Climate March: Ubuntu: We Have a Duty to Persuade Our Leaders

Posted by on Sep 21, 2014

 “Never before in history have human beings been called on to act collectively in defence of the Earth.”

 “Who can stop climate change?

We can. You and you and you, and me.

And it is not just that we can stop it, we have a responsibility to do so that began in the genesis of humanity, when

God commanded the earliest human inhabitants of the Garden of Eden,

“to till it and keep it”. To “keep” it;

not to abuse it, not to make as much money as possible from it, not to destroy it.”

— Desmond Tutu —

Extracts  from an article by Desmond Tutu writing in the Observer on the day of the biggest global call-to-action on Climate Change in history.

Marches and protests took place worldwide. Organisers in Manhatten said some 310,000 people joined the march, including Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon.

“This is the planet where our subsequent generations will live,”
Mr Ban said: “There is no ‘Plan B’ because we do not have ‘Planet B’.”

The People’s March has been organised just ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit in New York next week. Campaigners are demanding curbs on carbon emissions along with changes in law which would prevent a continuation of the unprecedented levels of damage currently being done to humans and the environment by unfettered psychopathic and antisocial corporate greed.
(Comment by RZ, not Desmond Tutu)

The complete article can be read here: Desmond Tutu: We fought apartheid. Now climate change is our global enemy

“As responsible citizens of the world – sisters and brothers of one family, the human family, God’s family – we have a duty to persuade our leaders to lead us in a new direction: to help us abandon our collective addiction to fossil fuels, starting this week in New York at the United Nations Climate Summit.”

“Just as we argued in the 1980s that those who conducted business with apartheid South Africa were aiding and abetting an immoral system, we can say that nobody should profit from the rising temperatures, seas and human suffering caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

We can boycott events, sports teams and media programming sponsored by fossil fuel companies; demand that their advertisements carry health warnings; organise car-free days and other platforms to build broader societal awareness; and ask our religious communities to speak out on the issue from their various pulpits. We can encourage energy companies to spend more of their resources on the development of sustainable energy products, and we can reward those companies that demonstrably do so by using their products to the exclusion of others.”

We can encourage more of our universities and municipalities, foundations, corporations, individuals and cultural institutions to cut their ties to the fossil fuel industry. To divest, and invest, instead, in renewable energy. To move their money out of the problem and into the solutions.

People’s Climate March Design Contest

Contest Finalists


We can urge our governments to invest in sustainable practices and stop subsidising fossil fuels; and to freeze further exploration for new fossil energy sources. The fossil reserves that have already been discovered exceed what can ever be safely used. Yet companies spend half a trillion dollars each year searching for more fuel. They should redirect this money toward developing clean energy solutions.

We can support our leaders to make the correct moral choices and to avoid undue industry influence that blocks the political will to act on climate change. Through the power of our collective action we can hold those who rake in the profits accountable for cleaning up their mess.”

The good news is that we don’t have to start from scratch. Young people across the world have identified climate change as the biggest challenge of our time, and already begun to do something about it.

Once again, it is a global movement led by students and faith groups, along with hospitals, cities, foundations, corporations and individuals. It is a moral movement to persuade fossil fuel companies away from a business model that threatens our very survival.

My prayer is that humankind takes its first tangible steps in New York this week – as a collective – to move beyond the fossil fuel era.

“There is a word we use in South Africa that describes human relationships: Ubuntu. It says: I am because you are. My successes and my failures are bound up in yours. We are made for each other, for interdependence. Together, we can change the world for the better.”


People’s Climate March Design Contest Winning Designs
The contest had two winning designs which  will form the basis of a creative NYC subway ad campaign that will highlight both the depth of the climate crisis facing us, and the hope that organized people power can push our governments to take bold action. The winners are:

 James Jean with “Winds of Change”, and Ellie and  Akira Ohiso with “The Next One won’t be Biblical”

Climate March Poster Design Contest Winner - Winds of Change
Climate March Poster Design Contest Winner - The Next One Won't Be Biblical



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Bloodswept Lands and Seas of Red

Posted by on Aug 9, 2014

 The blood swept lands and seas of red, Where angels dare to tread.

As I put my hand to reach, As God cried a tear of pain as the angels fell, Again and again.

— By Anon – Unknown Soldier —

The Tower of London has strong ties with those that fought in the First World war and to mark the current centenary of the start of the war it has commissioned an art installation on a hugely impressive scale.

Deborah Shaw, Head of Creative Programming for Historic Royal Palaces describes her role, at least for this project as “bringing artists into a dialogue with the palaces”.

In this case,  the dialogue has turned into an installation involving thousands of people that is quickly becoming one of the most memorable art works the city has seen, and will continue to capture the public’s imagination until its completion on Armistice Day – November 11th.

Ceramic artist Paul Cummins and set designer Tom Piper were commissioned to bring to life the concept Cummins had of ceramic poppies steadily filling up the famous moat around the Tower “To commemorate all those great fallen heroes who lost their lives in the First World War.”

 Each poppy represents one of the fallen soldiers and each flower is unique as all 888,246 have been handmade, using traditional techniques with a minimum of machinery involved with 3 shifts of people working over a 23 hour day to get the volume of work out on time, under the watchful eye of the artist.

Olivier-Award-winning theatre designer Tom Piper has helped to bring the concept to life by designing how the poppies flow out of the Tower to fill the moat – pouring out of a bastion window, flowing down tower walls to turn the green moat into a blood red sea with over  8,000  volunteers  helping to install the poppies – “if one person planted 200 poppies a day, it would take them over 12 years to install them all”

You can get involved in the project by volunteering via the website, by buying a poppy, or just by  going along and seeing it.

The installation runs from 5 August – 11 November 2014 (Armisitce Day)

Money raised from the sales will be shared equally amongst six service charities

 Artist Paul Cummins was inspired by a line in the will he found among old records in Chesterfield, of a Derbyshire man who joined up early in the war and died in Flanders.

“I don’t know his name or where he was buried or anything about him,” Cummins said. “But this line he wrote, when everyone he knew was dead and everywhere around him was covered in blood, jumped out at me: ‘The blood-swept lands and seas of red, where angels fear to tread.’

The Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

By Anon – Unknown Soldier

The blood swept lands and seas of red,
Where angels dare to tread.
As I put my hand to reach,
As God cried a tear of pain as the angels fell,
Again and again.

As the tears of mine fell to the ground
To sleep with the flowers of red
As any be dead

My children see and work through fields of my
Own with corn and wheat,
Blessed by love so far from pain of my resting
Fields so far from my love.

It be time to put my hand up and end this pain
Of living hell, to see the people around me
Fall someone angel as the mist falls around
And the rain so thick with black thunder I hear
Over the clouds, to sleep forever and kiss
The flower of my people gone before time
To sleep and cry no more

I put my hand up and see the land of red,
This is my time to go over,
I may not come back
So sleep, kiss the boys for me

The Tower of London and the First World War


The Charities to Benefit from Sales of the Poppies:


Cobseo maximise the charitable support to the Armed Forces Community through co-operation, co-ordination and collaboration of organisations working in the Service Charity sector.

 Combat Stress

Combat Stress is the UK’s leading military charity specialising in the care of Veterans’ mental health, treating conditions including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety.

 Coming Home

Coming Home is the fundraising campaign for Haig Housing Trust, which provides specially adapted homes for seriously injured and disabled Servicemen and general needs housing for ex-Servicemen and their families.

 Help for Heroes

“It’s all about the blokes” Help for Heroes Inspire Enable and Support those who have made sacrifices on our behalf to achieve their full potential.

 The Royal British Legion

The Royal British Legion is the nation’s largest Armed Forces charity, providing care and support to all members of the British Armed Forces past and present and their families.


SSAFA provides lifelong support to anyone who is currently serving or has ever served in the Royal Navy, British Army or Royal Air Force and their families.

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Art Everywhere for Everyone

Posted by on Aug 6, 2014

Five leading US art galleries selected works of art that represent American history and culture. The public voted for their favourites, and the final selection of 58 works are appearing across the country on billboards, bus shelters, subway posters, buildings and other public places.

 The exhibition is inspired by Art Everywhere founder, Richard Reed who first produced Art Everywhere UK. Both shows are running until the end of August to make this into the biggest art exhibition ever.

Reed describes the inspiration behind the show”

I used to walk across Shepherd’s Bush Green and on a poster site someone had put up a beautiful picture. There was no logo; it wasn’t an advert. It was really mysterious, but it was a beautiful thing to see and I would stop and look at it for 30 seconds on my way into work. It just gave you a bit of lift.

 I was telling my wife about this and she said, imagine what it’d be like if there were things like that everywhere. What would it be like if all the posters across the country for two weeks showed art not advertising? So we went to the big poster companies and said this is our idea – to turn the UK into the world’s largest outdoor gallery for two weeks.

  And they loved it and decided they wanted to work together as an industry to make it possible: we’ve called it Art Everywhere.”

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