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This Spinning World: First Proof Copy of My New Book

It's always exciting to receive the first proof copy of a new book. This Spinning World arrived from the printers this afternoon. I t...

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Thursday, 31 October 2013

The Art of Australia, Part 3

I hope the final episode ("Beyond Australia") of this excellent series will still be available on BBC iPlayer when I get back to the UK.

"Edmund Capon explores how, from the 1960s onwards, Australia and its art went global. Transformed into a migrant nation, Australia's dependence on Britain and Europe ended and artists and nation alike turned their attention to America and then Asia. And it was the world's most ancient art form, indigenous art from the heart of the continent, that would become modern Australia's instantly recognizable calling card".

An extract

Update, 5 November, 2013

Sadly I missed it. The episode had been removed from iPlayer by the time I arrived back in the UK. Artworks featured in this episode:

'Anak Byan' (1957) Ian Fairweather

'Spanish Encounter' (1960) John Olsen

'Silver and Grey' (late 1960s) Fred Williams

'Wrapped Coast' (1969) Christo & Jeanne Claude

'Interior with Black Rabbit' (1973) Arthur Boyd

'Alchemy' (1973) Brett Whiteley

'Kundaagi' (1962) David Yirawala

'Central Australian Landscape' (1950s) Albert Namatjira

'Three Dreamings' (1984) Michael Nelson Tjakamarra

'Qantas Plane' (1995) John Moriaty

'Civilised' (2012) Michael Cook

'Untitled #30' (2012) Bill Henson

'Bulletproof Glass' (2002) Rosemary Laing

'Snake' (1970) Sidney Nolan

Trying A Handstand At Homestead Farm

The Blue Room

Picasso, The Blue Room, Phillips Collection

For a deeper shade of blue

Miles Davis, Blue Room

Halloween In The Neighbourhood

"Ye little skelpie-limmer's face!

I daur you try sic sportin,

As seek the foul thief ony place,

For him to spae your fortune:

Nae doubt but ye may get a sight!

Great cause ye hae to fear it;

For mony a ane has gotten a fright,

An' liv'd an' died deleerit,

On sic a night"

Robert Burns. Halloween

Meanwhile, back in the UK,
the cover of the satirical magazine, Private Eye:

Maryland for Miracles?

Very strange to see posters in the front of Washington DC buses, for The Maryland Miracle Crusade.

Here's the promotional video with Pastor David Ibiyeomie.

I'll stick with Blind Willie Johnson.

Let Your Light Shine On Me

Then it's back to the Blues.

Washington DC, The Classical Guitar and Sophocles Papas

From The Washington Post (October 2010)

About Sophocles Papas (Wikipedia)

Athens, Greece: Radio Bubble

New York Times article

Radio Bubble Website

The Phillips Collection, Washington DC

Always a pleasure to return to The Phillips Collection

Transcript of Permanent Collection Audio Tour

Very disappointed that Hiram Powers' The Greek Slave is no longer on display.

Greece, Troika Return Postponed? Property Tax Issues; Hospital Overcrowding

Kathimerini article

"Troika inspectors will not be back on Athens on November 4, as had previously been planned. There is no set date yet for the troika return, Kathimerini understands. Persistent disagreements between the Greek authorities and the country’s creditors over the fiscal gap in the 2014 budget, as well as continuing delays in the implementation of the prior actions for the disbursement of the October sub-tranche, which was approved “in principle” in July, mean that the review mission will remain on hold for the time being....

With regard to the property tax, Venizelos and Samaras agreed that changes should be made without affecting the goal of collecting 2.9 billion euros in revenues next year. The bill caused a stir among coalition deputies because it increases taxation on farmers and imposes levies on a variety of buildings, including sheep pens, greenhouses and barns".

Troika visit will go ahead after all (Reuters)

Kathimerini explains

New York Times, The Pursuit of Tax Evaders

Hospital overcrowding (EnetEnglish)

The Crisis and Decentralization (Kathimerini)

Two Thousand Places Project, Second Video: Pavlos Gkousios, Davelis Cave, Athens

Music and Place

"This is the second video for Two Thousand Places project with Pavlos Gkousios  in an improvisation on soprano saxophone. Filmed and recorded live inside Davelis cave, one of the most mysterious and rarely visited places in Athens. Deep into the cave, Pan and his nymphs was worshipped by the ancient Athenian".

Images & Edit, Sound & Mix by Kostadis Michail.

"One musician, one place. Every place, just like every artist, constitutes its own distinctive sound.

Two Thousand Places is a project that attempts to capture the moment in which the artist's talent comes in tune with the special atmosphere of a place. The way in which music affects and is affected by the place where it is generated, in accordance with the artistic experience, mood and personality of each musician, is imprinetd live within four minutes, with no further use of overdubs.

TTP's sole guide consists of the spirit of constant search for the optimum combination of the artist, the place and diverse sound and video recording approaches, free of stylistic taboos. In this sense, it aspires to fill an obvious and significant gap in the Greek music scene".

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Greece: Value For Money Tourist Destinations (Trivago)

Greek Reporter

An interesting if somewhat surprising result.

I can think of better locations on Corfu, and better-value villages in the Zagori. It all depends what you are looking for!

"The Aegean island of Ios ranks third among the top 100 tourism destinations in the world that stand out for their value-for-money factor, quoting a survey by holiday booking website Trivago.

The top 20 features another four Greek destinations, with Megalo Papingo (near Ioannina) in sixth, Kavos on Corfu in 12th and Koutouloufari on Crete in 13th. Platanias Rethymnou (66th) and Delfi (83rd) also made the top 100".

Greece, Germany and the USA: What's Bugging Them?

From Enet English

Everybody's at it.

The US approach.

Germany and the US: Washington Meeting

Espionage and America (The Economist)

Storm-Battered Dorset, and the Aftermath

In pictures (BBC)

Aftermath (Dorset Echo)

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Bulgarian Roma, Photo-Essay

View here Octav Ganea Photo-Essay

EU Observer report on the Roma

Landscape Painting at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

I wish I'd taken this self-guided tour brochure with me today, although it scarcely mentions the great Dutch landscape artists.

A few snaps from the NGA collection:

 Natural Arch at Capri ,William Stanley Haseltine-
 not Durdle Door or Monet's Cliff at Etretat  or Courbet's
or this scene from Homer's Odyssey

Two outdoor conversation pieces worthy of a John Berger or Ann Bermingham commentary:

Arthur Devis

(Charles Harrison discusses another Devis painting, The James Family (1751)
 in his essay "The Effects of Landscape" in Landscape and Power (ed. W.J.T.Mitchell, 2nd ed., 2002)

On Heaven and Earth, Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections

Inspiring exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Thumbnail images (pdf)

Associated public events

Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections

From October 6, 2013, through March 2, 2014; travels to the J. Paul Getty Museum, April 9 through August 25, 2014.

This exhibition presents an extraordinary, perhaps unique, opportunity to see and study key icons and other rare Byzantine art-work displayed in the most sympathetic manner, with outstanding explanatory panels. Although I have visited many Byzantine Art Museums in Greece, as well as monasteries on Mount Athos, and the Benaki Museum, I have never before seen such a carefully curated selection of extremely precious and rare works.  Don't miss this opportunity to experience the art of Byzantium, and to appreciate what Greek culture has offered the world.

Cat. No. 170 / File Name: 3514-190.jpg
Unknown Artist
Icon of the Dormition of Saint Sabas, 15th century
egg tempera and gold on wood
overall size: 57.6 × 67.2 cm (22 11/16 × 26 7/16 in.)
Public Library of Lefkada

Cat. No. 51 / File Name: 3514-042.jpg
Icon with the Raising of Lazarus, 12th century
egg tempera on wood
overall: 21.5 x 24 cm (8 7/16 x 9 7/16 in.)
Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens

Cat. No. 168 / File Name: 3514-102.jpg
Icon of the Nativity, first quarter of 15th century
egg tempera and gold on wood
overall: 65.7 × 63.5 × 4 cm (25 7/8 × 25 × 1 9/16 in.)
Benaki Museum, Athens
©Benaki Museum, Athens, 2013

Detail of shepherd with pipe, 
his sheep drinking from the stream

From National Gallery of Art website:

WASHINGTON, DC―In the first exhibition devoted to Byzantine art at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, some 170 rare and important works, drawn exclusively from Greek collections, will offer a fascinating glimpse of the soul and splendor of the mysterious Byzantine Empire. On view in the West Building from October 6, 2013, through March 2, 2014, Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections will trace the development of Byzantine visual culture from the fourth to the 15th century, beginning with the ancient pagan world of the late Roman Empire and continuing to the opulent and deeply spiritual world of the new Christian Byzantine Empire.

Recognized masterpieces, many never lent before to the United States, will be on view with newly discovered and previously unpublished objects from recent archaeological excavations in Greece. Sculptures, icons, mosaics, frescoes, manuscripts, metalwork, jewelry, glass, embroideries, and ceramics are being loaned by the Benaki Museum, Byzantine and Christian Museum, National Archaeological Museum, and Numismatic Museum, all in Athens, and the Museum of Byzantine Culture in Thessaloniki, as well as from collections in Argos, Corinth, Crete, Kastoria, Mistra, Patmos, Rhodes, and Sparta, among others. After Washington, the exhibition travels to the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, where it will be displayed at the Getty Villa from April 9 through August 25, 2014.

“We are delighted to present the Byzantine period to our visitors. The earliest paintings in our own collection from the 13th century would not have been possible without these Byzantine precedents,” said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art, Washington.

“This exhibition will present to the American public the most important legacy of Byzantium, a great civilization based on Hellenism and Christianity. The 13 Byzantine Museums of Greece are the only museums in the world dedicated to Byzantine history and culture, which are major constituents of our national heritage. Some of the greatest masterpieces of Byzantine and post-Byzantine art will be travelling to the United States in a few months to be included in the exhibition Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections,” said Costas Tzavaras, Greek Minister of Culture.

Exhibition Organization and Support

The exhibition is organized by the Hellenic Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, Culture, and Sports, Athens, with the collaboration of the Benaki Museum, Athens, in association with the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

Exhibition Highlights

In 330 Emperor Constantine the Great moved the capital of the Roman Empire from Rome some thousand miles to the east, near the site of the ancient Greek city of Byzantium on the Bosphorus Strait linking the Aegean and Black Seas. Renamed Constantinople (now Istanbul), the city became the largest and wealthiest in the Christian world. The Byzantine Empire was the longest-lived political entity of Europe, lasting for more than a millennium before falling to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. At its height in the sixth century, the empire encompassed most of the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea; in the 10th century it comprised Greece, Asia Minor, and the Balkans. By the time it collapsed in 1453, the empire was a shadow of its former self, limited to Constantinople and parts of Greece. Although the empire expanded and contracted throughout its history, it remained famed for the splendor of its art and architecture, particularly that of Constantinople, which dazzled pilgrims, merchants, foreign dignitaries, and tourists from throughout the medieval world.

The exhibition will include approximately 170 works of art presented in five thematic sections:

From the Ancient to the Byzantine World will include works dating from the fourth to the sixth century, when Christianity and paganism coexisted, such as two marbles statues from the fourth century—Orpheus Playing the Lyre and The Good Shepherd. Although some Early Christians defaced pagan images, as seen in a first-century marble bust of Aphrodite with a cross carved on her forehead, others borrowed freely from pre-Christian works of art as they developed a new iconography to express Christian beliefs.

The Christian Empire: Spiritual Life will showcase works dating from the sixth to the 14th century made for the church or private worship. They include mosaics—the Byzantine art form par excellence—such as one example from 1100 that depicts the apostle Andrew against a glittering gold background that once adorned the sanctuary of a church and a very rare, large processional mosaic icon of the Virgin and Christ child from the late 1200s that has never before been seen outside of Greece. Among the church furnishings on view are the late 10th-century gilded silver Adrianople Cross and a 14th-century silk-and-linen Epitaphios (a large embroidered cloth icon).

Though icons were made in different media, most were painted in tempera on wood. Several examples will be on view in this section, including the golden 12th-century two-sided icon with Virgin Hodegetria and The Man of Sorrows, and the exquisite Archangel Michael, being lent to the United States for the first time. The icon exemplifies Byzantine artists’ ability to mix and blend pigments to create a sense of volume in the figures they modeled, a skill that had waned in Western Europe after the end of antiquity but was preserved in Byzantium. The export of Byzantine icons contributed to the revitalization of panel painting in Europe.

The Pleasures of Life will focus on secular works of art for the home, such as floor mosaics, silver dinnerware, ceramic plates, perfume flasks, bronze and glass lamps, and exquisite jewelry, including gold bracelets, armbands, necklaces, rings, and earrings. Also on view will be the most lavishly illustrated copy of the Romance of Alexander, a fictionalized story of the adventures of Alexander the Great, one of the most popular books of the Middle Ages.

Intellectual Life will present illustrated manuscripts containing works of scripture, theology, and liturgy, subjects that dominated intellectual life in the Christian empire. The Byzantines were also proud of their ancient Greek heritage. Manuscript copies of Homer’sIliad and texts by Euripides, Socrates, and Euclid will be included to indicate the important role Byzantine scribes played in passing down the tradition of classical learning and literature to the Renaissance and modern era.

The Last Phase: Crosscurrents will conclude the exhibition with works of art reflecting the final flowering of Byzantine art under the emperors of the Palaiologan dynasty (1261–1453), the most long-lived of all Byzantine dynasties. The works reflect a heightened interest in naturalism and narrative detail, as seen in the 15th-century icon known as the Volpi Nativity. Works in this section reveal cross-influences between the Byzantines and Western crusaders who occupied Byzantine territories in the 13th century. Crete, which fell to the Republic of Venice in 1211, became a major center of icon production where artists worked for both Greek and Italian patrons, creating paintings in a hybrid style seen in IHS (Jesus Hominum Salvator) by the Cretan artist Andreas Ritzos, which combines Western and Byzantine imagery.

Exhibition Curators and Catalogue

The exhibition will be coordinated in Washington by Susan M. Arensberg, head of exhibition programs at the Gallery, and in Los Angeles by Mary Louise Hart, associate curator of antiquities, J. Paul Getty Museum. The fully illustrated catalogue that will accompany the exhibition is written by international scholars in the field of Byzantine art. A companion volume will discuss historical sites in the major Byzantine cities and towns in Greece, placing emphasis on recent archaeological discoveries.

Greek Orthodox Doxologia (Thanksgiving) Church Music, similar to that heard at the Washington Greek Orthodox Cathedral on Sunday

About Mt Athos

The Icon of Virgin Mary in Epirus through the Centuries

Greece and Negotiations (and Unpaid Taxes)

Kathimerini, Angelos Stangos: What exactly is Greece negotiating for?

"Most people in Greece have no idea what is going on between Athens and its international creditors, amid the din of statements by all sorts of government officials".

Unpaid taxes

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Corfu: Nigerian Arrested for Selling Illegal CDs/DVDs

From Corfu Press (in Greek)

Συνελήφθη αλλοδαπός για κατοχή και διάθεση πλαστών ψηφιακών δίσκων στην πόλη της Κέρκυρας,
Συνελήφθη το Σάββατο το απόγευμα στην πόλη της Κέρκυρας, από αστυνομικούς της Ομάδας ΔΙ.ΑΣ. της Αστυνομικής Διεύθυνσης Κέρκυρας, 47χρονος υπήκοος Νιγηρίας για κατοχή και διάθεση πλαστών ψηφιακών δίσκων. Οι αστυνομικοί εντόπισαν κατά την διάρκεια αστυνομικού ελέγχου, τον 47χρονο και διαπιστώθηκε να έχει στην κατοχή του και να διαθέτει προς πώληση (218) πλαστούς ψηφιακούς δίσκους (cd-dvd). Ο 47χρονος οδηγήθηκε στον κ. Εισαγγελέα Πλημμελειοδικών Κέρκυρας.

For many years a small army of immigrants (legal or illegal) has been employed to distribute and sell illegally-copied CDs and DVDs in Corfu Town and around the island's resorts, as in many other parts of the country.

How come one of them has been arrested and singled out to be prosecuted now?

See August 2013 posting about a similar case in Argostoli, Kefalonia.

Skyline Drive Landscapes, Virginia

On the Skyline Drive:

Chinese Restaurant Landscapes

Spot the symbols of longevity

Eastern Market, Capitol Hill Area, Washington DC

Photography and Landscape

"Photography and Landscape", Rod Giblett and Julia Tolonen, Intellect, Bristol, UK and Chicago USA, 2012.

Rod Giblett, from Preface Part I:

"I define landscape photography as the creative, photographic inscription of the visual appreciation for the surface of the land in the three major aesthetic modes of the sublime, the picturesque and the beautiful...

Photography was made for the landscape; landscapes have been remade for photography; and landscape photography has remade the way land is seen. It is one of the major ways in which modern, technologically savvy people relate to the land and the land is mediated to them".

Divisions and Distances (Thomas Hardy, the Coleridges)

A new posting from Stephen Pentz's First Known When Lost blog, on Thomas Hardy and others.

Stephen Pentz's previous posting.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Albania and the Balkans

A new book of interest
Albania and the Balkans: Essays in honour of Sir Reginald Hibbert
Editor: James Pettifer

"Reginald Hibbert parachuted into Albania in 1943, part of the Special Operations Executive clandestine operations against Axis occupation. After World War II he followed a distinguished career as a British diplomat, ending as Ambassador to Paris. He was a pivotal figure in the scholarly controversies about Albania and Kosovo and their emergence into the Balkans conflicts in the 1990’s.

This collection of essays by distinguished students of Albanian and Balkan history and international relations is written as a tribute to Hibbert and his life and work. It opens up new perspectives on a range of topics central to the dramatic history of the region, and to the continuing international attempt to shape it.

‘An excellent collection of essays, offering fresh and important perspectives on the recent history and politics of modern Albania and the Balkans’

Dr Roderick Bailey, author of  The Wildest Province: SOE in the Land of the Eagle

Contributing Authors:

Nurcan Ozgur Baklacioglu

Nada Boškovska

Shaun Byrnes

Bob Churcher

Bernd Fischer

Michael Kaser

Basil Kondis

C. Dennison Lane

Xhervat Lloshi

Erin Marchington

Stephen Nash

Jane Nicholov

Gani Perolli

Inez Muzarku

Michael Schmidt-Neke

Miranda Vickers

Robert Wilton

Tom Winnifrith

Antonia Young

Greece: Parking and Storage Spaces to be subject to tax


The "taxing of areas including parking spaces on the premises of apartment blocks, as well as storage spaces, land plots and farms. Common use swimming pools in apartment blocks will also be taxed".

Governments and Economic Policy Options

Bridging the gap (in Greek)

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

The Sound of Ancient Greek Music?

BBC item (thanks to Chris King for the link)

I think I prefer this sound (Pindar's Pythian Ode I)

Dorset: Priorities For Economic Growth, Draft Masterplan

Read report here (pdf)

Comments invited:

Are these the right priorities for our economy and your business?

Does the Council have the right focus?

Given the role of the LEP - do you support the proposed priorities for growth?

Tel: 01305 252474

Email: consultation@westdorset-weymouth.gov.uk

A Taste of the 50's

Near Bird in Hand and Intercourse, Pennsylvania.
They had some good music playing:
Eddie Cochran, Bill Haley, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry,
The Everly Brothers, Larry Williams, Ricky Nelson.
A pity there wasn't a jukebox,
only a poorly painted image of one on the wall.
The grandchildren enjoyed the burgers and milk-shakes.
Comfort food, comfort music. My America.
Plenty of flashy chrome and bright neon signs.
A young Amish boy, accompanied by his paid non-Amish driver,
seemed to be enjoying it all just as much as my grandchildren.

Doll Paradise, USA