RSA Animate – Changing Education Paradigms: embracing creativity and collaboration in education

18 Jan

This is a great animated video about changing our perception of education, creativity, the Arts and the rise of ADHD. It’s adapted from a talk by Sir Ken Robinson at the RSA, an ‘education and creativity expert’. For more information on his work click here. Brilliant and a must see for all you genius creatives who didn’t like school.

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The Big Fish Fight – Review + ways to get involved

18 Jan

So who’s been watching Channel 4’s The Big Fish Fight documentaries on overfishing? The series, with it’s adjacent campaign, has been utterly brilliant.

Click the image below to read about and get involved in the the campaign, or carry on reading for a brief explanation of the documentaries.

fishfight.net

Watch Hugh's Fish Fight hereHugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Fish Fight documentary focused the practise of discarding in the EU (see video above, a must see). Fishermen are forced to throw up to half the fish they catch back into the sea, whether this is endangered cod or other species. Total waste. It also focused on the fact that we buy almost exclusively three types of fish, two of which are on the verge of extinction (blue fin tuna and cod). The aim of the film was to get us to eat less endangered types of fish, and to sign the petition to lobby the EU to stop the practise of discarding.

Hugh’s been criticised for raising a lot of awareness and public anger (rightly so) but not offering enough in terms of solutions, but at the moment I’d say making so many viewers aware of the issue who may not otherwise be aware of it is already a huge achievement.

The Big Fish Fight on Channel4.com

Watch Shark Bait hereShark Bait, presented by Gordon Ramsay, focused on the trade in shark fins for shark fin soup in China. We were exposed to the reality of how sharks are caught for their fins, with their fins often hacked off while the shark is still alive, only for the still moving body to be dumped back into sea since the rest of its meat is worthless in monetary terms. Many of these sharks are on the verge of extinction, and are caught before they’ve reproduced. Truly shocking, sad and enraging, and refreshing to have it presented by a celebrity chef rather than watching a Greenpeace video on it. If I was to be really fussy, I’d say it was annoying they didn’t have a Chinese tranlsator for Gordon, as sometimes his blunt questioning of shopkeepers in English (and not their own language), seemed a bit brutish. But the documentary definitely served its purpose.

You can see some of Jamie Oliver’s more ethical Fish Supper suggestions here:

Jamie's Fish Supper

John Pilger’s ‘The War You Don’t See’ – Where does the truth begin and the spin end?

15 Jan

Journalist John Pilger’s film, The War You Don’t See, is a fearless exploration of the media’s role in war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Dating back from the First World War, Pilger examines the relationship between the government and the media and the origins of propaganda and government spin.

Much like the First and Second World Wars, on some level we’ve still  been conditioned to associate war with heroism and a fight for a ‘greater good’ and the war in Iraq was no exception to this. Behind the tired rhetoric of threats of weapons of mass destruction was very  little actual evidence and a growing and disproportionate number of Iraqi war casualties.  Pilger questions why the  media, particularly in the UK and America, allowed itself to be manipulated by the government and become the mouth piece for its dishonest agenda.

It’s sickening food for thought when you think about the extent to which the news we read is filtered and how the ‘selected’  few  set the agenda while the rest of us either create or fall victim to the spin. Also without a public framework of accountability, it’s shocking to consider the level of political immunity that exists which sends the message that as long as you’re in a suit and have an Etonian background, you can pretty much get away with anything (Tony Blair, anyone?) Continue reading

Interview with Situationist artist Robert Montgomery in Dazed and Confused

12 Jan

Anything visual that actually manages to stand out and touch me in the ubiqutous white noise landscape of mind numbing advertising is always a huge, welcome relief.  I’d seen this piece by artist Robert Montgomery in Old Street before but because it was totally anonymous, I’d never found out about the artist until I came across this interview in Dazed and Confused.

Robert Montgomery’s pieces follow the Situationist tradition of detournement, which is basically the hijacking of advertising space to replace it with poetry.  Through its anonymous presence in a public space, Montgomery’s art is a very personal challenge to the barriage of ads that usually fill up mental space with restelessness, insecurity, and the desire for things we wouldn’t otherwise get into debt for, or an ideal body type it would be necessary to stop eating/go under the knife for.  A simple phrase or thought can be enough to challenge a psychological landscape that is otherwise so easy to take for granted.

The interviewer John-Paul Pryor puts it succinctly when he says Montgomery’s works provides a “reflective space in which a public so used to being psychologically bludgeoned into a consumerist daze can find some respite from the relentless static of the modern world.” Sometimes it’s just relaxing to be reminded that someone relentlessly trying to sell you something wherever you look is not the way it has to be.  An artist making the effort to do this, for free, is somehow touching. Continue reading

Amelia’s Magazine: “Did PC Mark ‘Flash’ Kennedy ensure my arrest as one of the Ratcliffe 114 ?”

11 Jan

Just a quick one, about the trial of the six environmental activists accused of planning to shut down Britain’s second biggest power station, Ratcliffe-on-Soar.  As was widely reported today, the trial fell through because evidence for the prosecution came from an undercover police officer who had been working with the activists. There seemed to be an unwillingness to disclose any further details about his involvement, which would have been necessary for a fair trial.

Via a random tweet I found out Amelia Gregory, who I interned for at Amelia’s Magazine last year, was one of the 114 people who were pre-emptively arrested in the police raid on the school where the group (including Mark Kennedy) had gathered ahead of the action on 13th April 2009.  This is thought to have been one of the biggest pre-emptive arrests in UK history.

Her piece in Amelia’s Magazine is a personal account of the arrest, the events leading up to it, and her impressions of Mark Kennedy.  It’s definitely worth a read as a personal supplement to the numerous news stories and their latest developments.  It has some great illustrations too (especially the one by Victoria Archer).

Interview with artist and Passion for Freedom winner Roberta Coni

12 Dec

The annual Passion for Freedom Art competition took place last month in which a group of international artists were asked to address the subject of religion and human rights.

The exhibition comes directly from The One Law for All campaign against the Sharia Law in Britain. The Sharia law is an Islamic law based on a combination of sources, including the Quran and the Sunna.

Courtesy of onelawforall.org.uk

According to a report by One Law for All, in the Sharia law’s penal code, women can be stoned to death for sex outside of marriage, homosexuality is punishable by death and improper veiling is punishable with fines and imprisonment. A woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man’s and while a man can have four wives and can easily divorce, a woman must give justification for requesting a divorce, some of which are extremely difficult to prove.

In a law that values retribution as an appropriate form of justice, One Law for All fiercely campaigns against its implementation in the UK.  Civitas estimates that there are at least 85 Sharia courts in Britain that implement and enforce the Sharia law, mainly covering issues such as divorce. Considering the severe disadvantage women are at in the first place, (and the many that are unaware of their rights under British law) that proceedings are not recorded and that there is no legal accountability, it’s clear that activism and action is needed by the government who have so far been sluggish to react.

Fuelled by this need for action and legal equality, the artwork for the Passion for Freedom competition aims to reflect this injustice and covers issues ranging from child ‘marriage’ to women’s oppression.

After the exhibition, I had the opportunity to speak to one of the winning artists, Roberta Coni, about her views on the Sharia law and her winning piece, Erasing Herself.

What was the motivation for taking part in the Passion for Freedom exhibition?

I believe that art is often considered only for its decorative aspect, so this seemed to me the perfect opportunity to denounce this mentality and bring attention to this tragic issue to people who are unaware.

My painting “Erasing herself” is a portrait of an old woman to which I removed, with a brush stroke, the features and her identity, as the Sharia dictatorship does. Personality, freedom and individual choices, are buried under a heavy silence and submission, thus denying all freedom and original identity of the woman. Where Sharia law is state law, a woman is, in terms of rights, a pariah.

What are your views on the Sharia law and has it been implemented in Italy?

Sharia is a religious code for living, found in the Quran and the Sunna, that covers all aspects of life. The woman’s role is always inferior to male relatives. Women are subjected to a limited life- their identity and individual freedom doesn’t exist, that should be a human right for any individual. Continue reading

Kate Middleton: future princess or public doll?

11 Dec

Life has a funny habit of throwing around ironic parallels and it should just so happen that 30 years down the line, I’m listening to The Smiths, we are in a Conservative-led government, still suffering from aftershocks of a recession, and we are looking at another royal wedding.

I may not know much, but I know that pretty much from now until April on every slow news day we are going to be paraded with images and tales of how ‘Kate met Will’. And as we enter these austere times of shaky uncertainty, it’s going to become a convenient focal point used to gloss over real issues such as the slow progress after the floods in Pakistan, Philip Green’s alleged billion pound tax avoidance or the barbaric police aggression that the government seems to be ignoring in light of the student demonstrations.

Much like in the `80s, this wedding is a government PR’s dream boat as they try to spoon-feed us these fluff stories in some kind a vain attempt to appease our dismay over ruthless government cuts. It seems as though they hope that somehow we’ll forget the times we’re living in as the government stresses the revenue this wedding will generate for the economy and wheels out gimmicks such as extra bank holidays and free places to be won for the royal wedding. Despite this annoying situation, there stands a more worrying parallel; in amongst all the stories about Kate’s ‘lowly background’ and THE ‘engagement dress’ lies the potential for the makings of the same kind of overbearing relationship Diana had with the media. Although this craze is symptomatic of the celebrity-obsessed culture that dominates our society, as the media dissects and debates ‘key’ issues like the way Kate should wear her hair and which designer should make her dresses, I can’t help but think that she’s just being paraded out like that same public doll Diana was, subject to everyone’s judgement and speculation. Continue reading