Five common words we're all using incorrectly

Stark naked? Not quite…

Many people think they know their main language intimately. But there are many words and phrases in English that people often use wrongly. Whether these erroneous uses truly count as “wrong” is up for debate – after all, a mistake that has become widely adopted should really be considered acceptable. But whichever side of this argument you err towards, here are five examples of ones that we are all making.

1. Stark naked

Someone who has no clothes on is widely described as being stark naked. Originally, however, the phrase began as start naked – from the Old English steort, meaning “tail”. The phrase literally meant “naked to the tail”, probably referring to the buttocks.

Although the word steort is not recorded in this sense, tail has often been used in this way – as it still is in the American phrase work your tail off. The word steort fell out of general use around 1300, surviving only in the names of birds like redstart and wagstart (better known today as the wagtail).

The switch from start to stark naked was triggered by start becoming obsolete, combined with an association with stark, meaning “completely”, in phrases such as stark dead, stark blind and stark naught – first recorded in the early 16th century in the savage put-down: “Ye count your selfe wele lettred [educated], your lernyng is starke nought.”

2. Sneeze

The verb to sneeze is imitative in origin – the sound of the word mimics the sound of the thing it names, as with words like drip, fizz, beep and the noise created by a sneeze: atishoo.

But the original form of the word was fnese, along with fneosung (“sneezing”), and fnora (“a sneeze”). The change from fnese to sneeze arose through confusion caused by the way the word appeared in medieval manuscripts.

Medieval handwriting employed several different forms of the letter “s”, including an 8-shaped form, another resembling a kidney bean, the Greek letter sigma and a long form – still found in printed books of the 18th century. This last letter closely resembled the letter “f” and it was confusion between the long “s” and “f” that resulted in fnese being adapted into modern English sneeze.

Read more:

3. Gravy

While gravy may seem a quintessentially English sauce, the word is actually French in origin. Gravy was originally grané, meaning “spiced”, from Latin granum “grain”.

The letters “u” and “n” were often indistinguishable in medieval handwriting – both were formed using two single vertical strokes called minims – so that it would be easy for a scribe to misread the word as graue.

While the letters “u” and “v” are distinguished by the sounds they represent today, in medieval English they varied according to position: “v” appeared at the beginnings of words (vntil, “until”) and “u” in the middle (loue, “love”), irrespective of the sound. As a result, the word grané came to be misread as gravy, and this form has been used ever since.

4. Adder

Adder (the snake) goes back to the Old English word nædre; it is one of a small number of English words where the initial “n” has been lost due to confusion over where the boundary falls when following the indefinite article a/an.

As a result of this process, known as metanalysis, a nædre became an adder. The same misapprehension lies behind words like apron (from napron, related to nappe, “tablecloth”) and umpire (originally nonpeer, “no equal”).

The word orange was also formed this way, although in this case – since it is a borrowing into English from French – the mistake had occurred before it was adopted into English. The French orange is itself a borrowing of the Arabic word naranj (the initial “n” is still found in modern Spanish naranja); it was confusion following the indefinite article un that produced the modern form.

Watch your indefinite article.

5. Cherry

The word cherry originates in the northern French dialect word cherise (a variant of the standard modern French cerise), which was adopted into English after the Norman Conquest of 1066.

Because it ended in an “s”, English speakers mistakenly understood it to be a plural form and so the false singular cherry was born. The same process lies behind the word pea, erroneously derived from the singular form pease (ultimately from Greek pison) – preserved in the nursery rhyme “pease pudding hot, pease pudding cold”.

Although these changes took place hundreds of years ago, the process can be observed today in the emergence of bicep: a singular form of biceps. This may seem logical, but biceps is an adoption of a singular Latin noun, from bi- “two” and -ceps “headed”, referring to a muscle with two points of attachment.

The tendency for speakers to associate the “s” ending with plurals has also given rise to erroneous plural forms. Despite phenomena being the plural of Greek phenomenon, the false plural phenomenas is sometimes used. But the error of this type that is most likely to make pedants reach for their red pens is paninis – the supposed plural of Italian panini (singular panino) – a reminder that what is acceptable for some remains anathema for others.The Conversation

Simon Horobin, Professor of English Language and Literature, University of Oxford

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Journalists must not allow themselves to be used by unscrupulous politicians

The UK’s prime minster, Boris Johnson, with BBC political correspondent Laura Kuenssberg.
BBC News

Here are three questions that anyone interested in the health of UK democracy should be asking. Should reputable political journalists allow themselves to be exploited as conduits for the unfiltered messages of political leaders? Where does accurate reporting end and uncritical stenography begin? Are the media’s big name political editors – in particular the high-profile broadcasting duo of Laura Kuenssberg on the BBC and Robert Peston on ITV – exercising proper scrutiny of a ruthless Downing Street propaganda machine, or are they victims of it?

These are important questions because – as anxieties grow about “fake news” being spread by unmoderated and unaccountable social media sites, and as the national press becomes even more vocal in its partisan reporting – our broadcasters have become the last bastion of detached information and critical analysis. Research shows that broadcast journalism is still regarded as the most trustworthy media, and those entrusted with the task of reporting on our political leaders on TV and radio bear a particularly heavy burden in febrile political times.

They are also questions that, over the past few weeks, have become more urgent as Downing Street has sought to impose its own narrative on unprecedented political turmoil. When the UK Supreme Court announced its historic decision that Johnson’s prorogation of parliament was unlawful, Kuenssberg immediately tweeted a thread from a “No 10 source” that the court had made “a serious mistake in extending its reach to these political matters”. This was not accompanied by analysis of the decision or the rationale for reaching it.

Seasoned journalists argue that the political lobby has been doing this for decades, only now it is exacerbated by the speed with which news cycles develop in the digital world. Maybe. But when Johnson and the German chancellor Angela Merkel had their now infamous telephone conversation on October 8, the Downing Street machine – and the breathless reporting that accompanied it – went into overdrive.

Sky’s Kate McCann tweeted a number 10 source as saying: “If this represents a new established position, then it means a deal is essentially impossible not just now but ever”. Other respected reporters followed suit, including the BBC’s Five Live with a faithful “a Downing Street source has told the BBC …”

It didn’t take long for veteran observers of the diplomatic scene to expose this Downing Street version of events as, to put it politely, economical with the truth. Former Irish ambassador Bobby McDonagh tweeted: “If Downing Street ‘source’ wants people to believe a fictitious account of conversation with Merkel it should avoid attributing views to her which are palpably made up.” And Tony Connelly, Irish broadcaster RTE’s experienced Europe editor, made it clear in a series of tweets that both the tone and language were completely out of character for Merkel, and that the view in Brussels was that Downing Street was kickstarting the blame game.

At this point, Twitter jokers decided to have some fun. LBC talkshow host James O’Brien tweeted: “A ‘senior Downing Street source’ has told me that the moon is, in fact, made of cheese.” Another wag followed up with “a Downing Street source has just told me I can lose a stone in a week using this one weird trick and earn 20 grand a month working from home”. And so it went, as some of the country’s most revered commentators were lampooned mercilessly for parroting the Downing Street line.

‘Dodgy stories’

It is, however, a profoundly serious problem which was brilliantly articulated by columnist Peter Oborne this week in an article for OpenDemocracy (which he said he was unable to place in a mainstream publication). Oborne described a number of worrying examples of deliberate smear campaigns being run by newspapers to discredit those who were not following the Johnson line, which were then followed up by broadcasters.

These “dodgy stories” started to appear, he said, after Johnson installed his media team in No 10. “With the prime minister’s evident encouragement these Downing Street or government sources have been spreading lies, misrepresentations, smears and falsehoods around Fleet Street and across the major TV channels. Political editors lap it all up.”

Oborne specifically targeted Kuenssberg and Peston, suggesting that they may be too compliant in their eagerness to receive “insider” information which they report without challenge. This, he wrote, is “client journalism” which “allows Downing Street to frame the story as it wants. Some allow themselves to be used as tools to smear the government’s opponents. They say goodbye to the truth.”

He subsequently appeared on Channel 4 news to repeat his allegations that since Johnson took up residence at 10 Downing Street, largely thanks to the prime minister’s senior adviser Dominic Cummings and a “group of other figures from the old Leave campaign … that a total unscrupulousness has developed” about the way they used journalists across the spectrum to present information “much of which turns out to be false”.

In his rebuttal on the same site, Peston argued that anonymous briefings have always been part of political journalism, and that the job of a conscientious reporter is “to distinguish palpable nonsense spouted by aides from information that genuinely represents the policy of the government”. Democracy is served, he wrote, “when we know how those in power think and speak”.

Preston was joined on Twitter by fellow practitioners defending their colleagues on the basis that governments have always indulged in spin, and that lobby journalists were perfectly capable of distinguishing exaggeration from downright lies.

Lies, damned lies

In the current environment, however, these arguments are increasingly unconvincing. Just as in the White House, so in Downing Street we have an embattled figurehead who is an acknowledged liar surrounded by cronies well-versed in the art of creating a political narrative that bears very little resemblance to the truth. Moreover, the time and financial pressures on journalism allow much less scope for fact-checking, thoughtful analysis, or critical appraisal of official briefings.

In an environment where the issues are complex and the politics are brutal, it is surely incumbent on those political journalists who are being relied upon by voters to guide them through their leaders’ machinations to spend more time on insights and explanations.

Print journalists have a longer history of partisan coverage and a weak regulatory framework which has never set much store by accurate reporting. Broadcast journalists, however, are immersed in a culture of impartiality and commitment to factual accuracy.

Read more:
Brexit: democracy needs journalists to be transparent about their political sources

Whatever the temptation of being first, or being singled out for exclusive access, at a time when democracy itself is under immense strain they surely owe it to their viewers to spend a little more time challenging power and a little less in knee-jerk facsimile tweets.The Conversation

Steven Barnett, Professor of Communications, University of Westminster

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

3 French fine art finds that shook the art world

Earlier this week, it emerged that an early Renaissance painting by the Italian master Cimabue is to go under the hammer today Sunday, a few weeks ...

* The full article is published here...


Britain is still failing to acknowledge the legacy of slavery

Britain is still failing to acknowledge the legacy of slavery – memorialising its victims would be a start

A statuette of a proposed memorial that has yet to find full funding.
Memorial 2007

Caroline Bressey, UCL

The sound of the water flowing from the fountain that now stands towering in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall creates a calming softness in contrast to the cold, hard concrete floor on which I sit trying to take in the 13-metre-tall monument before me.

The sculpture is both calming and distressing: presenting painful histories of the black Atlantic slave trade in the “delightful family-friendly setting” of a public art museum. The characters of Venus, The Captain and Queen Vicky stand or sit around the monument’s plinth. A mother directs her young son’s gaze up to the water gently pouring down from above them. She does not point to the trunk of a tree planted on the side of the monument where these characters do not rest. It is not so pretty, not so easy to delight in. It is a tree without life: no branches, no leaves, only ghostly bodies hanging from an empty noose.

Painted on the Turbine Hall wall, the text for Kara Walker’s sculpture, Fons Americanus, calls visitors to “Gasp Plaintively, Sigh Mournfully and Gaze Knowingly” at her recasting of the Victoria Memorial which stands outside Buckingham Palace. This monument featured in my own undergraduate dissertation. In that, I explored representations of black British women’s history in London’s urban landscape by walking the city.

Queen Victoria memorial.
Maran Garai/Shutterstock

The only representations I found around the city placed imaginary women of “Africa” at the base of columns which celebrated Britain’s empire. I don’t think I particularly noticed then the absence of references to the slave trade. I focused on bringing to light the presence of the black Victorians who were nowhere to be found in the memorial fabric of the city in which I walked and this has remained the focus my research ever since.

Tate curator, Clara Kim, hopes that the work will stimulate a debate around the representation of difficult British histories in the urban landscape. It is a conversation that is sorely needed, but has been called for for some time.

In 1807, the Act for the Abolition of the British Trade in Slaves from any part of the coast or countries of Africa was enacted. As the bicentenary approached in 2007, discussions about how this bicentenary would and should be commemorated – rather than celebrated – heightened.

Memorial 2007 launched a campaign to memorialise not the white parliamentary abolitionists, but the Africans who were victims of and fought against the institutions of British slavery. The intention was for the sculpture, chosen by public competition, to be unveiled during the bicentenary year in 2007. Twelve years on, Walker’s intervention at Tate Modern is a stark reminder that no such memorial on a national scale has yet found a place in the capital.

Chaired by Oku Ekpenyon, Memorial 2007 has been campaigning since 2002 to raise funds to complete its mission, but that campaign is now nearly out of time. The group have secured planning permission for a space in the Rose Gardens in Hyde Park, but this expires in less than a month, on November 7, 2019.

Side view of the Memorial 2007 statuette with measurements for the real thing.
Memorial 2007

Every prime minister since the group formed has been asked to support the memorial, but no funds have been forthcoming. Although Boris Johnson, then Mayor of London, hosted an unveiling of a statuette of the memorial sculpture at City Hall, letters to Number 10 since he became prime minister have been met with silence. A petition to ask the government to fund the memorial before the deadline has been gaining momentum.

The state’s failure to acknowledge the pain and suffering of the victims of the British transatlantic slave trade through memorialisation is reflective of its failure to acknowledge the legacies of enslavement in contemporary Britain; its legacies of financial and social capital for those who benefited from it and the ongoing marginalisation of the descendants of those who were enslaved, as the recent Windrush Scandal painfully exposed. For Ekpenyon, the campaign to bring a memorial into being has been an exhausting 17 years of frustration, disappointment, anger and sadness.

Read more:
Black history is still largely ignored, 70 years after Empire Windrush reached Britain

When I visited Tate’s Turbine Hall, visitors were walking around Walker’s fountain, craning their necks skyward to its peak, angling to get as much as possible of it in frame for a picture. I stood alone looking into the stricken face that appears from the sculptured folds of the Shell Grotto at the hall’s entrance. Here, the flowing water is a silent, steady stream of tears.The Conversation

Caroline Bressey, Reader in Historical Geography, UCL

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Mental health art festival take over

THIS November, residents are invited to be part of a 'Madlove' Take Over festival, a place looking at different people's experiences of mental health ...

* The full article is published here...


National Orchestra for All appoints Lucy Hale as inaugural Young Composer-in-Residence

Orchestras for All is delighted to announce Lucy Hale has been appointed its inaugural Young Composer-in-Residence for the 2019-2020 season. Hale will work with the 100 young members of the National Orchestra for All (NOFA) to create a brand new piece of music to be premièred at the spectacular season finale concert on 9 April 2020 at LSO St Luke’s in London.

NOFA – the flagship ensemble of youth music charity Orchestras for All – is a unique orchestra made up of 100 young musicians aged 11-18 from across all four nations of the UK. It is the only non- auditioned, free to participate national youth orchestra of its kind. Young musicians are not auditioned or charged fees, but instead are nominated by music teachers, social workers and partner charities for showing dedication and commitment to music in the face of challenging circumstances. Many live with disabilities or chronic health conditions, have caring responsibilities, face socio- economic deprivation or rural isolation, or come from areas where they simply wouldn’t be able to afford to participate in music without NOFA. Performing, learning and playing music together has been proven by leading academics to have a huge impact on young people, developing social skills, team work and confidence. Orchestras for All aims to ensure all young people aged 11-18 can access these life-changing opportunities.

The new piece will form a central part of this unique youth orchestra’s 2019-2020 season which is entitled My Roots, Our Routes, exploring music that has been inspired and influenced by human migrations and journeys. The piece will take its inspiration from the idea of The Silk Road by Land and Sea, exploring aspects of the music of the countries along the Silk Road in two movements, one representing the land route, the other representing the sea route. Hale will lead NOFA through two days of collaborative composition workshops in Liverpool on 23-24 November 2019, supported by NOFA’s team of experienced orchestral tutors, before fully orchestrating the piece for rehearsals and performance in London on 7-9 April 2020.

Originally from London, Hale attended the Royal College of Music Junior Department as a principal study composer between the ages of sixteen and eighteen. She is currently nearing the end of her studies for a Master of Music in Composition at the Royal Northern College of Music, where she completed her Bachelor’s degree with honours in 2017. She is also a trainee Associate Musician with Drake Music, working on the delivery of composition workshops with young disabled people in Liverpool, and was the inaugural Young Composer-in-Association with BSO Resound, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s disabled-led ensemble.

Hale says: “Music has had a huge positive impact on my life, and as a disabled person, it has not always been easy for me to access. I believe passionately in OFA’s mission to bring high quality musical experiences to young people in challenging circumstances. I’m looking forward to exploring a fascinating subject and crafting a new piece with and for a diverse group of committed and enthusiastic young people and, I hope, playing a small part in showing those young people that music is for everyone.”

Steven Smith, NOFA’s Programme Manager, commented: “We’re over the moon to be working with Lucy this year. We received an amazing selection of entries for our Call for Proposals earlier this year, but Lucy’s stood out for her plans for engaging the young musicians in her creative process. We’re looking forward to spending two days with her at our upcoming Winter Sessions, and showcasing her new work – co-created by our young musicians – at our season finale in April.


Artist Keith Haring's Journals – ‘I’m Glad i’m Different’

How much do you need to retire?

£10,200 a year at a minimum

The earlier you start saving for retirement, the better.

Matt Padley, Loughborough University and Claire Shepherd, Loughborough University

Retirement is changing. Following more than a century of increases in life expectancy, one in every five people in the UK is 65 years and over. This ageing population presents some big challenges, not least when it comes to financial planning.

To provide people with a sound basis on which to make decisions about the kind of life they want in retirement – and how much they will need to pay for it – colleagues and I have spent the past year and a half working out two different levels of retirement living standards. We’ve spoken to 250 people, building on our wider research into what income is required for people to meet their material needs and participate in society.

For single retirees who want a minimum standard of living – to meet their basic needs and have a little left over for fun – we estimate that they need an annual income of about £10,200. For what people would consider a comfortable retirement, where you have more financial security and flexibility, they need an annual income of £33,000.

To work this out, our research asked a series of groups to discuss and agree detailed lists of goods and services that are needed to live at each living standard. This is not just what is needed, but how long each item lasts, where it would be bought and the kind of quality it is reasonable to expect.

Three different living standards

If you are a single retiree, we calculate that you’d need to spend about £10,200 to have a minimum standard of living. As well as covering essential needs such as shelter and groceries, this includes £15 to eat out once a fortnight as well as £10 a month for a takeaway. It is based on buying reasonably inexpensive clothing at supermarkets and cheaper high street shops, but looking after your feet with good quality shoes.

It includes the cheapest contract smartphone, an entry level laptop and the internet, all of which allows you to participate in the world and not feel excluded. It doesn’t include a car, but does include a budget of £20 for social activities each week as well as two short UK holidays each year.

This minimum living standard provided the starting point for discussions with groups about what higher standards would include. We asked members of the public to agree the key features of two living standards above the minimum, which were then discussed by our group participants.

A moderate retirement living standard is where you “know full well you can always maintain [the] minimum”. But is also about having greater freedom to do more of the things that you would like to do. As one participant put it: “You need to plan, but you don’t have to think about every penny.”

With this in mind, groups agreed that at this level a single retired person would need £20,200 a year. This includes a budget of £75 each month to cover eating out, takeaways and coffee and cake while out shopping. It also includes the cost of a pre-paid funeral plan – something not included at the minimum – as it was important for them to avoid being a financial burden on family and having peace of mind that this cost was covered. As one retired man put it, “having enough to bury yourself” is crucial.

A moderate standard also features a car, a £60 a month Sky package and £35 for social activities each week, all of which give greater choice and flexibility than at the minimum. Holidays at this level are a holiday in Europe each year as well as a UK city break.

Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association

Groups described the next level up from this as a comfortable retirement living standard. This is a standard that allows flexibility, particularly in terms of financial security and having the opportunity to help others. People were clear that retiring at this level would mean peace of mind, with a financial buffer so that if, for example, your fridge stopped working you could replace it without worrying about making spending cuts elsewhere. A single retiree would need £30,000 a year to achieve this.

Being comfortable in retirement means being able to do a lot of what you want to do, but groups were clear that this was not about limitless choice or unfettered spending. There was a clear sense that you were likely to be able to retire at this standard as a result of careful financial planning and that maintaining this level in retirement would require the same approach.

At this level, groups decided that a single retiree would need £50 a week for eating out, takeaway and more spontaneous spending such as lunch out after shopping. It might include help around the house, such as a gardener to cut the grass in the spring and summer and a window cleaner once a month. Holidays at this level add up to three weeks in Europe each year, and critically at this level, groups included a budget of £1,000 each year for helping others.

Starting point

These three levels provide a starting point to think about both what we want life to look like when we retire – and how much is needed to cover it. They’ve already been adopted by a number of high-profile pension providers and advisors, and we hope they will become an accepted element of pension planning.

Considering the full new state pension is currently £8,767.20, which you only get if you’ve made national insurance contributions for 35 years, it’s incredibly important to think about the future and plan accordingly. The earlier you start the better.

At the same time, we should not lose sight of the growing number of people already retired that do not have enough to meet their minimum needs – materially, socially, emotionally and psychologically. Society – and government – must step in to help them, as well as encouraging and making it easier for people to better financially plan for their futures.The Conversation

Matt Padley, Research Fellow, Centre for Research in Social Policy, Loughborough University and Claire Shepherd, Research Associate, Centre for Research in Social Policy, Loughborough University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Black and minority ethnic academics less likely to hold top jobs at UK universities


Universities pride themselves on being bastions of equality and diversity. But if new figures from the University and College Union (UCU) are anything to go by, it seems they also continue to remain dominated by those from white, middle-class backgrounds – and this isn’t just about about the students.

The UCU analysis found that black and minority ethnic staff in universities are less likely to hold senior jobs, less likely to be professors, less likely to be in senior decision making roles – and are paid significantly less than white colleagues.

So despite significant advances in policy, such as the 2010 Equality Act and initiatives such as the Race Equality Charter – which aims to improve the representation of minority ethnic staff and students in higher education – inequalities based on race continue to exist. And this demonstrates the pervasiveness of institutional and structural racism in higher education.

The ivory tower

There is already evidence to suggest racist practices are prevalent in recruitment, promotion and pay at universities. And in the research for my recent book, I also found that daily experiences of racism exclusion and marginalisation remain deeply ingrained within the culture of higher education. And are a significant and normalised part of working at a university for many Black academics.

One woman I interviewed experienced subtle micro-agressions such as not being addressed in meetings, not given eye contact or asked for her opinion. She also witnessed derogatory remarks made in public about minority ethnic groups.

Read more:

When complaints of racism are made, I’ve been told about how such instances weren’t treated as racist. I’ve heard about senior managers reluctant to recognise or address racism – refusing to accept it can take place in a university. All of which continues to ensure those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds are positioned as outsiders in the white space of the academy.

Institutional and cultural barriers

The insidiousness of racist practices across the academy has proved difficult to challenge through equality and diversity policies so far. The Race Equality Charter has been found to offer potential. Not least by providing a framework that can help universities address and institutional and cultural barriers. But our research findings suggest that considerably more investment and incentive is needed for it to be truly effective.

One in 33, or 3%, of black academics, are professors, compared to about one in nine – 11% - of white academic staff, according to the analysis by the University and College Union.
Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

The Race Equality Charter was introduced following the success of the Athena Swan Charter, which aims to address gender inequalities in universities. Yet the main beneficiaries to-date have been white middle-class women.

Another issue is that an Athena Swan award can lead to research funding for university departments – this is not the case for the Race Equality Charter. So while Athena Swan take-up has resulted in good practice for gender equality, racial inequality has been seen as a secondary priority. Indeed, out of 154 higher education institutions in the UK, there are only 56 members of the Race Equality Charter compared to 164 Athena Swan members.

White privilege

The Race Equality Charter has helped higher education institutions to take steps in the right direction. But now, more resources are now needed if institutions are to really start to address systematic racism within the academy.

As the UCU report shows, far from being liberal spaces of inclusion, higher education institutions continue to play their part in the reproduction and reinforcement of racial inequalities. Indeed, as I state in my research from 2018: “Higher education institutions are spaces of white privilege…they employ a rhetoric of inclusion but one that is rarely evidenced in practice or outcomes”.

So if universities are serious about inclusion, social justice and equity, then surely the time has come for the Race Equality Charter to be mandatory and linked to research funding. This, along with properly addressing the continued perpetuation of white privilege in higher education – both of which are urgently needed.The Conversation

Kalwant Bhopal, Professor of Education and Social Justice, University of Birmingham

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Expansion and Rebranding of the Kensington Narrators Arts & Heritage Archive

Originally launched to preserve the outpouring of local artwork produced in response to the Grenfell tragedy, the Kensington Narrators’ digital and physical Archive continues to document life, art, and the cultural heritage of the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.

In the aftermath of a heartbreaking loss of life in June 2017, and in response to the challenges of adjusting to a new reality faced by the local community (Golborne, Ladbroke Grove, Latimer, and Westbourne Park), a grassroots team formed the Kensington Narrators. Now in October 2019, they launch a groundbreaking digital archive website, featuring much of the art and creative work stemming from that period.

Ladbroke Grove native Christina Sealy, a local arts project coordinator of 22 years (and now a 2019-2020 London Civic Futures leader), along with other local arts leaders and Kensington residents, created the Archive to protect, and eventually exhibit, this creative work. Now permanently housed at Bishopsgate Institute, a beautiful fit-for-purpose and self-funded building next to Liverpool Street station, the Kensington Narrators Arts & Heritage Archive preserves both physical and digital items. Each item is categorized and owned by its contributor.

For 2019, a stylish new website exhibition platform has been designed by local youths, the creation of which has enhanced their training in modern digital archiving. It allows the public direct access to a selection of archived works. Through a first-of-its-kind online archival contribution process, a self-curated creative legacy of Kensington & Chelsea can be uploaded and cataloged securely online.

In Christina’s words: “Our communities have come to understand that the media cannot be the only voice telling our stories. The preservation of our local heritage is a creative, educative and empowering response to tragedy. The Archive documents, preserves, and exhibits our experiences of recent historical events, while also celebrating our community in all its diversity, resilience and creativity. This Archive is a catalyst to preserve all our stories of historical value, to create new work, and to self-represent our rich identities.”

Archiving is critical to individuals and communities for many reasons. It is a human right to archive — to contribute to art history, to amplify individual voices, and for diverse cultures to represent themselves. Archiving allows for collective storytelling, and preserves first hand knowledge of a particular time and place. On a practical level, secure and permanent physical space is hard to come by; locals — especially those who have been displaced, want somewhere safe to preserve items that they value and which should be shared. Thanks to partnerships with local organizations including Birkbeck University of London, Bishopsgate Institute, Talent Rich CIC, and FerArts, these things have been made possible.

Building on hundreds of hours of voluntary work committed by local organizers in the first 18 months of the project, in 2018 the Heritage Lottery Fund generously provided financial support to ensure the local community could enjoy long-term use of this Archive.

With that funding, the Kensington Narrators have purchased recording equipment, hosted a series of free workshops and events, developed national curriculum archive workshops for local schools, created an exhibition website, trained local young people in modern digital archiving, and continued to engage local artists and creatives to contribute to the Archive. By making archiving simple and accessible, the Narrators expect the Archive to be a vibrant and engaging resource for decades to come.

Junior Tomlin, a local artist who has produced a body of digital artworks and has made multiple contributions to the Archive, says he archives in order “to time capsule an item…it is preserved for future generations to look back on an era that has come and gone.”

After contributing a banner to the Archive, local mother Tamsin Wright said, “A weight has been lifted. I felt a responsibility holding onto this item, and now I feel lighter.”

Dr. Julia Laite, Lecturer in History at Birkbeck, has been a key collaborator. “The important part of this project is that it will build capacity to continue to document, preserve, and interpret the culture, art and heritage of the Kensington community, in a format that can be widely accessed for many generations to come.”

Contact: Christina Sealy

Tel.: (+44) 20 3287 1800 | Website: www.talentrich.org



curious thing

curious thing is kat himmel, a portrait artist & illustrator. it’s an edifying blend of the histories & faces of the widely celebrated & the ‘should be widely celebrated’. i hope you’ll learn something new every day.

Master forger Shaun Greenhalgh speaks about his 'art' in rare public interview

IT remains one of the most astonishing art forgery tales of modern times, spanning Bolton to London, New York and Chicago — and even involved an ...

* The full article is published here...


High Lodge Future Forest trail opened by artists

A series of sculptures and art installations were unveiled at High Lodge, Thetford Forest, as part of the Forestry Commission's 100 year celebrations ...

* The full article is published here...


Virtuous Online Commenters Discover an Original Painting by Anthony van Dyck, Britain's First Art ...

The digital platform seeks to promote debate and crack open important questions on art within the UK's public collections—including mysteries.

* The full article is published here...



Rockumentary About Record Breaking Indie Band The Pocket Gods Out Now On Amazon Prime! It Explores Their Protest Against Spotify For Fairer Royalties and Frontman Mark Christopher Lee's Battle With Mental Health Issues Which Culminated In A Suicide Attempt Earlier This Year.

"It's One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Meets Spinal Tap"

"The Greatest Story Never Told About The Greatest Band You've Never Heard Of"

Weird tells the story of cult indie band The Pocket Gods since their immaculate misconception 20 years ago in a London record shop. It features the highs and lows of being in an indie band. From being discovered by the late DJ John Peel and obtaining an official Guinness World Record for their Spotify protest albums, to playing gigs to one stoned guy and a scary looking dog.

The film also charts frontman Mark Christopher Lee's battle with depression and mental health issues which have plagued his life since being abused as a child. This culminated in him taking an overdose in a suicide attempt earlier this year and he's now determined to encourage others to seek help and support for these issues.

It also goes into detail on how the band created the 30 second song idea which led to a world record and features in Billboard, ITV news, BBC News and The Independent. Spotify pays out a paltry royalty of about 0.007p evert time someone streams a track for 30 seconds.

The track could be 7 minutes long and it still would only get 0.007p. So the band though why write songs longer than 30 seconds if you're going to be paid such a rubbish amount. They then put 100 of these on an album to make it sound impressive and the 100X30 series of albums was born. There have been nine of these including the 300X30 album which holds the official Guinness World Record for most tracks on a digital album - 298:Guinness World Records - Most Songs On A Digital Album

The film features cameos from fan and actor John Altman (Eastenders), 70's Rock Star Mungo Jerry and has narration by the legendary Howard Hughes.

Here are a few quotes on the band and the film:

"Wilful Maverick" - Tom Robinson (2,4,6,8 Motorway, Glad To Be Gay & BBC 6 Music)

"There's no-one quite like the pocket gods!" - Seymour Stein - Music industry legend and the man who signed The Ramones & Madonna.

"The Silence has been deafening about men and mental health until now. Through the language of music and intimate anecdote, Mark Christopher Lee opens the dialogue about depression, family ties and the ongoing struggles against demons real and imaginary."

Sarah Lowther - Radio Dacorum


Prodigy star Keith Flint's personal possessions to go on sale at auction to settle estate

Among the items available are music awards and presentation discs from around the world and items reflecting the Firestarter singer's taste in art and ...

* The full article is published here...


Beatles: Abbey Road at 50 is a marker of how pop music grew up in the 1960s

Imma Gambardella via Shutterstock

Adam Behr, Newcastle University

The 50th anniversary re-issue of the seminal Beatles album Abbey Road – remixed and with a slew of alternative takes – along with the celebrations by surviving band-members and fans alike, illustrates the recording industry’s preoccupation with nostalgia.

It’s also an opportunity to cash in on both the vinyl resurgence and the wave of anniversaries that accompanies the canonisation of Baby Boomer rock pioneers. The Beatles lead the pack but Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones have also put out anniversary re-releases and documentaries.

It’s easy to be cynical but Abbey Road is a musical moment with an anniversary that warrants marking. It received mixed reviews on release in September 1969. The Guardian found the record “a slight matter”, although Rolling Stone remarked that it showed that the band was “still unsurpassed”. Commercially, there was no question. It entered the UK charts at number one, where it spent a total of 17 weeks, with similar performance internationally.

The album’s effect on musicians was both immediate and longstanding. Booker T and the MG’s recorded and released an instrumental cover of the album – McLemore Avenue – within a year, featuring themselves crossing the road outside their own Stax Studios. Frank Sinatra, meanwhile, made “Something” a feature of his concerts for years, recording it twice and calling it “the greatest love song of the last 50 years”.

Sublime swansong

Abbey Road’s reach into the popular consciousness is long. It has immortalised the former EMI studios, now taking the name of their address, and the zebra crossing that featured on the iconic cover is a tourist attraction today.

Its real emotional and musical weight, though, comes through the combination of songwriting and production craft with historical placement. Although Let It Be was released in 1970, Abbey Road was the last album the band recorded – a mixing session for Lennon’s portentous “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” was the last time all four members were in the studio together.

They were mired in financial difficulties – their Apple venture (a portfolio of ventures from record label to a shortlived boutique) was struggling after a ramshackle launch period. Their increasingly divergent social and musical lives were also shot through with legal disagreements, and whether to take on Allen Klein as their manager – as favoured by Lennon, Starr and Harrison – or, McCartney’s preference, the Eastman family of his new wife Linda.

Their recording swansong followed fragmentary, disparate work on 1968’s White Album and the fractious Get Back sessions in the early months of 1969. That was an attempt to rekindle their early, live energy first in Twickenham film studios and latterly their Apple building on Saville Row although it collapsed into discord, leaving hours of tape that would eventually surface as the 1970 album Let It Be, with Phil Spector tasked with finishing the job.

Work on Abbey Road in summer 1969 wasn’t free of discord but, unlike the preceding Twickenham sessions, it didn’t result in sloppy and incomplete recordings. This was due in no small part to the reinstatement of George Martin as producer and the band’s return to EMI studios. Martin instilled a sense of discipline. His involvement came with the condition that the band “let me produce it the way we used to”.

The band, unable to face returning to the Get Back tapes – “none of us would go near them”, remarked Lennon – concurred. As Harrison would recall: “We decided, ‘Let’s make a good album again’.”

It’s plausible that, sensing the end was near, they wanted to go out on a high. The extent to which Abbey Road was planned as a finale is debatable. As with much of the Beatles’ final days, matters are shrouded in contradiction. The mix of schoolboy friendships, working relationships, a strained legal partnership and creative inspiration meant that the months of recording were unlikely to be either unremitting contention or unbroken harmony. It’s also almost impossible to discount hindsight and the tendency to read their final moments as a band into the music – “The End"’s elegiac conclusion to the medley on side two in particular.

Regardless, they were reaching the end of the road. All were involved in solo projects by the time they recorded Abbey Road and Harrison and Starr had already temporarily left the band during recordings for the White Album and Get Back.

End of an era

Abbey Road, though, reveals the possibilities and strengths of the "band” as format – the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. It’s the first time after perhaps Sergeant Pepper that their creative impetus is audible as merging across one another’s songs – the Beatles as an entity, beyond the group of individual musicians.

Abbey Road fuses song-craft and recording innovation with the confidence that the group dynamic brought to the table. Their first forays into eight-track tape and transistor technology gave the album a fuller sound than previously, while it was one of the first mainstream albums to feature a synthesiser. Sonically, it was as much the first album of the 1970s as an artefact of the late 1960s.

Few, acts are as synonymous with a decade as the Beatles are with the 1960s. And while this is party historical accident – their creative collaboration ended with the decade – it also means that Abbey Road signposts the passing of one era into another. As we stumble uncertainly towards a new decade ourselves, there’s comfort in that album’s uneasy synthesis of sunshine and strife into a coherent musical statement.

In 1963, The Beatles had recorded their first album Please Please Me in one lightning 13-hour session. By the time they walked out onto the zebra crossing in 1969, they had expanded the parameters of popular music, helping to turn it a recording art form. Their success also solidified the concept of the band as a preeminent creative unit in popular music. Even at the end, they continued to point the way forward.The Conversation

Adam Behr, Lecturer in Popular and Contemporary Music, Newcastle University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

How art can inspire solidarity across borders | Tate

How do artists create work within their communities, in a way that helps us see injustice and shows us the way towards change? In this film ...