Tag Archives: art

No doom and gloom just bravery and beauty

Chantelle Msumbuga

What’s the connection between Charles Dickens and this: Should have died in infancy. Didn’t. At the age of four had meningitis and went into a coma. Recovered. Had a stroke with complications that lasted a year. Survived. Major blood transfusions. Long term organ damage. Hours of chelation therapy five times a week to reduce iron overload from blood transfusions. Bruising, discoloration, pain, pain, pain…

Dickens is renowned for cataloging the suffering of the poor and downtrodden, but this is not the torment visited by his imagination on some poor character. It’s real suffering. It’s what happens when a young girl is born with sickle cell anaemia.

A young girl like Chantelle Msumbuga. She’s now a young woman – almost 16 years old. Last weekend she told me and some others about the succession of pain and setbacks she’s undergone in her short life. And she was so cheerful and beautiful as she told it. Her blog is here. She educated us about the condition and the very invasive and intensive treatment she received at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) for Children.

Liliane’s lovely buns – you have to bite through the head of Charles Dickens to taste them.

Now do you get it?

After JM Barrie and Peter Pan, Charles Dickens is the famous figure most associated with this London hospital for children. Shortly after it opened, he helped save it from bankrupcy and to double in size.

That’s why Charles Dickens fan Christopher West (who also lectures under the nom de plume Charles Dickens London) arranged a special Dickens Day to raise funds for GOSH – to mark the connection between writer and hospital during this year, the 200th anniversary of Dickens’s birth.

Liliane the beautiful cake maker from the Cote d’Ivoire

Oh – there’s another reason too. It’s not just Chantelle who medical staff at GOSH are helping. They also saved the life of Christopher’s granddaughter not so long ago. So, like Chantelle he’s also saying thank you for personal reasons.

Chantelle and Christopher were helped and supported by lots of other people too. People like the Kings College Chorus, schools, experts and Liliane. She’s from the Cote d’Ivoire, has beautfully accented French, beautiful buns (no not that! I do actually mean the buns in the picture) and is just beautiful.

There was a lot of beauty around that day – and that includes Continue reading

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Street Art 2: Famous faces

Amy Winehouse – She’s saying: “Oh no, I couldn’t eat another thing. Well… Maybe one more chocolate eclair. Just to be polite.

Ever walked down the street and felt that you were being watched?

I’m not talking about that time you forgot your trousers or had your skirt tucked into your knickers. You were being watched that time. Gawped at in fact.

But I’m talking about something more surreptitious.

Something you sense but can’t quite be sure of.

As if people aren’t moving turning their heads – just twitching their eyes. Like a ghostly portrait in haunted mansion.

So back to the street and the feeling of being watched.

Do you try to carry on as if you hadn’t noticed. Whistling maybe. Swaying in an attempt to look casual. Fighting the urge to speed up.

Samuel Beckett: “You looking at me? Huh! Beware or I’ll zap you with my laser eyes.”

Whilst beneath cloth your buttocks are clenched. Your back is straighter. Your own eyes are swivelling while you force yourself not to look back over your shoulder.

Then imagine that the eyes following you are not just anybody’s eyes. That round each corner a new famous face confronts you.

Do you feel intimidated? Scrutinised? Weighed and measured?

Or Continue reading

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Robert Hughes: What democracy is for…

Robert Hughes died recently. I liked reading his work.

This is what he said about democracy and art – from an editorial in the Guardian newspaper:

The late Robert Hughes wrote his own epitaph in his 1993 polemic Culture of Complaint, where he inveighed against the banal politicisation of art and championed instead the importance of quality.

“Some things do strike us as better than others – more articulate, more radiant with consciousness,” Hughes insisted. “We may have difficulty saying why, but the experience remains.”

Democracy’s task, in the field of art, he believed, was to make the world safe for elitism, not to outlaw it. He believed passionately – in Hughes’s case the adverb is redundant – in an elitism that was not based on class, wealth or race, but on skill, imagination, high ability and intense vision Continue reading

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Cool Dog 100k

Cool Dog – Alfie – Deptford, London

COOL DOG is here to mark a small Blackwatertown landmark. You – dear readers – have visited this blog 100,000 times and brought the comment total above 5,000.

Thank you.

You’re as cool (if not even cooler) than Cool Dog.

Meanwhile, thank you also to anyone who has downloaded a copy of my ebook The Obituarist. I don’t know who you all are – but I’d love to hear so that I can thank you personally – so let me know if you do – email me at paulwaters99 AT hotmail.com

But I can thank Michael J Lawrence (author of The Aphrodite Conspiracy) for this review:

Got absolutely no work done that afternoon as I opened the first page and the story just kept me engaged until I finished it. Tally ho chaps, bandits at twelve o’clock. A ripping yarn! Continue reading

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Street Art 1: Happy people v worried dog

This guy was loitering down the road.

Looking cheery.

But he was a man of straw.

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Unlike this happy couple Continue reading

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Austerity Measure

I’m always excited about visiting the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy.

One past year had a huge gorilla constructed from coat hangers. Another year I offered to take a reader of this blog on a free tour of the exhibition. Padmini took me up on it. I’ve been a fan. A defender.

But this year… It’s just…

Great to see old favourites – Norman Ackroyd, Anselm Kiefer, Barbara Rae and others. But overall it just didn’t get me going.

It was the Austerity Measure from the Henningham Family Press that most caught my eye.

Like Continue reading

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Does this make me… hardcore?

Kim Hyesoon

Last Friday I immersed myself in poetry read aloud at the Poetry Parnassus. It claims to be the UK’s largest ever gathering of poets. (Not including pubs surely?) At least one poet from every country competing in the 2012 London Olympics. It’s big.

So does even turning up make me an intellectual?

Let’s raise the stakes. I sat through repeated bouts of poetry, in Korean by South Korean poet Kim Hyesoon. So that’s Korean poetry in Korean. That must make me a hardcore intellectual.

She said, through a translator, that she’d only read short ones, the better for us to get the meaning in translation. She may need help with the translation of the word “short”.  I can tell you that she is very illustrious and pioneering and that it was an unrepeatable experience. Not to be repeated anyway.

Does that make me a philistine? (Though not in a Palestinian sense.)

Wole Soyinka thinking to himself: “Are two phones enough? Maybe I should get a third one just in case.”

Next up – Nigerian Nobel literature prize winner Wole Soyinka. I’ve read quite a bit of him. I’ve even seen him before. But the highlight of his performance was when a mobile phone started ringing during one of his readings – and the phone owner would NOT turn it off. It wasn’t until Wole came to the end of his poem that we discovered the culprit. It was Wole’s own phone ringing – conveniently amplified by the nearby microphone.

We laughed. He laughed. He turned it off. Then he took out his other phone and turned that off too.

The man has TWO phones Continue reading

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