Friday, 23 October 2020

Write … Edit … Publish … Bloghop / IWSG hop: Grave Mistake …

We don’t know do we … we had a love that spread across the deep space of time … the earthy scent of autumn, the spring green essence of life, while in summer it bloomed … how do we know that love ... it is just us.  Time is ahead …

… is it?   No … a bruised darkness descends - one of us is gone … bereavement for the other … 


Time passes … slowly, gloomily – there is no joy, just the desolation … leaning against her gravestone – the hanging emptiness of days, then months, years … 

Hermann Hosaeus
1875 - 1958

… at last the fading light eases into his body … his heart slows … he joins the love of his life … in her for-ever winter sleep … no more as a grave mistake …

WEP/IWSG – see here for entry parametersand contributors … everyone welcome …

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Saturday, 17 October 2020

London Visits pre lockdown – the A-Z on Tutankhamun’s exhibition … part 9 …


The treats on show focused on the significance and meaning of the king’s burial items … a few here in the A-Z format …


Calcite vases on show in exhibition

A is for Antiquities … the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities has over recent decades let museums around the world exhibit specific treasures – and this one was to commemorate the centennial of Tutankhamun’s discovery … as well as the construction of his final resting place in 2022 in the brand new Grand Egyptian Museum, Giza within the Cairo metropolis.


A is for Ankh symbol of life – is an ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic symbol, used in writing and art.


A is for Akhenaten, Tutankhamun’s father … the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt: family tree here …


B is for Boomerang – some found in the tomb would work as returning boomerangs, others were decorative … Tutankhamun, as the teen child he was, loved playing with these …


Gilded Bow case

B is for Bows – beautiful gilded wooden compound working bows with glass, calcite inlays, horn and sinew … there were more than 30 of these, along with 47 older style bows and more than 400 arrows in the tomb …


C is for Lord Carnarvon (1866 – 1923) of Highclere Castle, who had married an illegitimate daughter of millionaire banker Alfred de Rothschild: his debts were paid off and there was a substantial settlement – he was an enthusiastic amateur Egyptologist and was able to finance many excavations …


Carnarvon, his daughter and Howard Carter at tomb

C is for Howard Carter for whom a dream came to pass … the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb and the restoration of his place in Egyptian history.

Howard Carter had originally come to Egypt in 1891 as an artist to copy and paint the colourful scenes in the Middle Kingdom tombs … at this time the “father of modern Egyptology” was Sir William Flinders Petrie – who, once that spark of interest in Egyptology had been lit, guided Carter’s future passion.


C is for Calcite … calcite alabaster was the kind primarily used in ancient Egypt …


D is for Dynasties – chronology of Ancient Egyptian History: pre-dynastic period ca 4400 – 3100 BC;

Tutankhamun’s dynastic period occurs in the New Kingdom of the 18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties ca 1550 – 1070 BC.


E is for Eighteenth Dynasty founded by Ahmose 1 (ca 1549 – 1524 BC) – he came to the throne when he was ten, then reigned for over 25 years.

Ahmose’s Eighteenth Dynasty was one of the strongest to ever rule Egypt.  He reorganised the administration, reopened quarries, mines and trade routes, and began massive construction projects … determined that Egypt would never again fall prey to outsiders.

Egypt’s wealth was secured and added to until Tutankhamen inherited the kingdom where foreign rulers claimed that “gold was like dust – Egypt was the most powerful and wealthiest empire of the ancient world, when the Egyptian civilisation was at its zenith.


Gold, Lapis, and Carnelian bead bracelet
with Amethyst scarab clasp

F is for Faience … widely used for small objects from beads to models found in tomb …  all necessary for the journey into the Afterlife. 


F is for Flinders Petrie – the father of modern Egyptology.   ‘A Digger’s Life’ … and the Petrie Museum –see my post Sept 2013.


G is for Gold … the illuminating, glinting gold espied by the flashlights - through that first ‘break’ into the tomb … these ranged in size from the enormous shrines of gilded wood that surrounded the sarcophagus, to tiny individual beads.

When Carter and Carnarvon entered the first room (Antechamber) they encountered this life-size figure of the king …


This life-size statue -
wooden guardian statue
of the Ka of the King
(found in the Antechamber)

H is for Herwer (Horus the Elder) ... a falcon headed deity found in a wooden box in the form of a shrine in the Treasury.


H is for Hieroglyphics - the formal writing system used in Ancient Egypt.  A cartouche is an oval with a line at one end at right angles to the oval … indicating that the text enclosed is a royal name. 


Calcite vase with hieroglyphics
and cartouches

I is for Ivory – ebony and ivory inlays are very Egyptian and used in many of the items found in the tomb, including child-sized furniture … an armchair, a lion-shaped ritual bed, boxes …


A child's armchair
found in tomb

J is for Jewellery … all forms of unimaginable items … amethyst, faience, glass, gold leaf, ebony, ivory, cedar, lapis lazuli, carnelian, turquoise, obsidian, green feldspar, electrum (gold and silver alloy – green gold), travertine, resin …


Pectoral, Chain, and 
Counterpoise with Lapis
Scarab flanked by Uraei

K is for King and KV – is the standard Egyptological designation of each tomb – KV62 - for the young pharaoh Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings.


L is for Tutankhamun Lying Peacefully undisturbed in his nest of coffins for over 3,000 years … the young golden pharaoh.


Howard Carter examining
Tutankhamun's innermost coffin -
it was solid gold, with his gilded
embalmed body within - 

L is for Lotus … the white lotus blossoms open at night, associating it with the moon and the sun.

Around the cups run the hieroglyphic signs proclaim a well wish for the king’s ka (his life force, which persisted after death).


Ay performing the Opening
of the Mouth Ceremony
for Tutankhamun

M is for the Opening of the Mouth Ceremony … an essential for the Mummy so it could breathe and speak in the afterlife … the Book of the Dead contains a spell for this process … more information can be found here


M is for Maat – the ancient Egyptian concepts of truth, balance, order, harmony, law, morality and justice.  Maat was the goddess who personified these concepts, and regulated the stars, seasons, and the actions of mortals and the deities who had brought order from chaos at the moment of creation.


N is for the River Nile – where cultures rose and flourished, until one king ruled the entire Nile valley from the first cataract at Aswan to the Mediterranean … the first pharaoh had emerged.


N is for the Netherworld … the Afterlife … the realm of the dead in ancient Egyptian mythology. 



Nefertiti – ruled after her husband’s death before her step-son, Tutankhamun inherited on her death.


O is for Oils – perfumed oils essential for rituals were highly valued … as they were pressed from plants or steeped in liquids and fats for prolonged periods … the art of distillation was not known.


Tutankhamun's Perfume Oil
jar - symbolising the Unions
of Upper and Lower -
made of alabaster (calcite)

O is for Ostriches … hunted by Tutankhamun in his chariot; they were an important bird - for their feathers and eggs were prized as luxury items.  It was a royal sport that allowed the king to demonstrate his control over nature.  The Egyptian pharaohs were also known to hunt hippopotamus in the Nile.

Gilded Wooden "Ostrich Hunt" Fan

P is for Pharaoh – the common title now used for the monarchs of ancient Egypt from the First Dynasty (c 3150 BC) until the annexation of Egypt by the Roman Empire in 30 BCE.


P is for Pschent – the double crown worn by rulers in ancient Egypt – representing the pharaoh’s power over all of unified Egypt.


It combined the White
Hedjet Crown of Upper
Egypt and the Red
Deshret Crown
of Lower Egypt

Q is for Queen Ankhesenamun (ca 1348 – after 1322 BC), who was the daughter of Pharaoh Akhenaten and his Great Royal Wife Nefertiti, and who became the Great Royal Wife of her half-brother Tutankhamun.


R is for Rituals – through a series of rituals performed in the temple of Amun at Karnak, the young prince was transformed into the king of Egypt, the living Horus, representative of the gods on earth.

The forces behind the decisions regarding the young king were the adults in the royal court.


R is for Religious calendar … this kept the court on the move throughout the country … as well as royal duties, the young king and his wife would have had time to boat, play board games, drive chariots, hunt … he did not allow his deformed foot, nor his scoliosis, to interfere with his pleasures.


Miniature Board Games box

R is for the foremost Responsibility of an Egyptian king – that of maintaining ‘maat’ – see ‘M’ above.


S is for Spells to help with the transition on death through the underworld … Afterlife Texts as they are tended to be known … or Ancient Egyptian funerary texts …


T is for Tutankhamun’s Tomb and Treasures – it’s been fascinating to learn about the tomb, its rooms and treasures …


U is for Unbelievable exhibition exquisitely put together … displaying on the walls a fantastic show of art found in the tombs, projecting relevant notations for us …


V is for Valley of the Kings … where for nearly 500 years from the 16th to 11th century BC, rock –cut tombs were excavated for the pharaohs and powerful nobles of the New Kingdom (Eighteenth – Twentieth Dynasties of Ancient Egypt).  The valley contains at least 63 tombs …


W is for the “Wondrous Things”: that Carter and Carnarvon saw illuminated through the hole they had bored to see into the tomb.


Gilded Wooden and Ivory
Pen Case in the form of a
column inlaid with glass

W is for items related to Writing that were found in the tomb.  The gilded wooden and ivory pen case, inlaid with glass, would have stored reed pens. 

Being able to write, and read, ensured the deceased access to the magical tests required to travel safely in the netherworld.


X is for x facts: 5,366 objects excavated, recorded, conserved and transported.

These exquisite precious items, imported woods, linen, leather, petals, leaves, and ore … all crammed into the entrance passageway and the four chambers known as the Antechamber, Burial Chamber, Treasure, and Annex. 


Y is for years – five of them when Carter searched for the tomb, ‘unravelling’ the rubble over the site – every item found was photographed in situ and recorded; a further three years was spent similarly photographing, recording every item from each part of the tomb. 


Tutankhamun ready for hunting -
see boomerangs in background
(from LA exhibition 2019)

Y is for being so young – he needed the assistance of experienced courtiers, many of whom had served his father and even his grandfather – to rule for his short tenure.

He was buried with a solid gold coffin, face mask, thrones, archery bows, trumpets, a lotus chalice, two Imuit fetishes, gold toe stalls, furniture, food, wine, sandals, and fresh linen underwear ... and more ... 


Z is for Zahi Hawass – who is the world’s foremost Egyptologist.  He has been and continues to be instrumental in all things about Tutankhamun and his family … including this spectacular exhibition that I saw in early 2020:

The Golden Mask - did not travel
out of Egypt for this exhibition

Saatchi Gallery's exhibition site in London early 2020 - there are some beautiful photos here ... worth having a look at - the 'Wooden Guardian statue of the KA of the King'; the Gilded Wooden "Ostrich Hunt" Fan; photos of the tomb as it appeared at various stages; treasures, and faience ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 9 October 2020

London Visits pre-lockdown, Saatchi Gallery: Tutankhamun – Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh … part 8 …


I wasn’t expecting to be bowled over by Tutankhamun … I guess I should have been ready to be truly amazed … but I was really visiting because I thought I should … not understanding ‘why’ … boy have I lots to learn.

Replica of wall painting found in tomb


At school we’d have all come across the Egypt with its pyramids and pharaohs … and I knew about Howard Carter – maybe learnt after school …


Howard Carter - 
archaeologist and Egyptologist


… and as there’d been an exhibition in London in the 1970s, which the world and its mistress seemed determined to visit (I gather over 1.6m people visited), Tutankhamun was on my radar … but hence my realisation I’d better take a closer look.  I’ve never liked queuing … and the queues in the 1970s are today described as “nightmarish” … so I’m glad I never went then!



Poster for film


The strange thing is … last Sunday (4th Oct) there was a film on tv entitled ‘Agatha and The Curse of Ishtar’ … a typical Agatha History alternative history – it revolved around archaeological digs in Iraq – and where it suggested Agatha met the love of her life – the archaeologist Max Mallowen.  It was a delightful romance … but now looking at the Tutankhamun blurb reminds me how little I know – apologies an unnecessary note!



Thankfully I went at the end of the day … when there were fewer visitors – which made viewing easier …


I was just astonished at the workmanship on show.  The exhibition was so well arranged … I hadn’t realised that Tutankhamun’s name was (totally) forgotten … suppressed by Horemheb, the general who commanded the Egyptian army, who had been appointed by the experienced courtiers/elders, to serve as Crown Prince, while Tutankhamun was young.

Faience vessels for perfumed oil


Horemheb was away fighting when the young king unexpectedly died … which may be why at that time he did not succeed to the throne.


Statue of boy king makine
his way in the Netherworld

Tutankhamun’s closest advisers were Ay, his vizier, and Maya (the overseer of the treasury and royal building projects) … it was they who oversaw the preparations for the burial and performed the rituals.  This also established as Ay as Tutankhamun’s heir and, consequently, as rightful king of Egypt.


Ay ruled for four years, then Horemheb assumed the throne … whereupon he ordered the names of Tutankhamun, Ankhesenamun (his widow and his half-sister), Ay (his vizier), Akhenaten, his Pharaoh father, to be destroyed from all monuments, statues et al … or replaced their names with his own – he also ordered that the city of Amarna be dismantled – where Akhenaten’s tomb was found.


Valley of the Kings found at Luxor

Horemheb ruled for 14 years and was the last pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty of Egypt.


Horemheb nearly succeeded in removing Tutankhamun’s reign from history … but for the intrepid dream of an Englishman – Howard Carter, Lord Carnarvon’s assistant when he was sponsoring excavations in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings.


Lord Carnarvon reading

Carter began to work with Lord Carnarvon in 1907, supervising excavations of nobles’ tombs in Thebes … in 1914 Carnarvon received the concession to dig in the Valley of the Kings.  Work was suspended during WW1 …


By 1922, Lord Carnarvon had had enough with the lack of results trying to find Tutankhamun’s tomb and returned to Highclere Castle (perhaps best known today as the setting for the Downton Abbey franchise).


Highclere Castle
(aka Downton Abbey)

Carter not one to give up on a dream … decided to personally finance one last clearance… whereupon Carnarvon confirmed he’d actually sponsor the last dig in the Valley of the Kings.


The area in front of the tomb of Ramesses V and Ramesses VI, was still crowded by the remains of the huts occupied by the workers, who had built this later tomb.


Highly decorated tomb walls

Carter supervised the work of recording the workers’ huts, photographing, documenting and finally clearing them.  Then the 1920s workmen were ordered to dig through the debris on which the huts once stood …



… hey presto, Carter turned up on November 4th 1922 for a regular day of work … but silence reigned … a flat stone surface had been uncovered … this was the uppermost step of the stairway leading underground …



Hawk carving with Horus

… Carter just knew that a momentous moment had been reached in archaeological history … Lord Carnarvon was telegraphed – he returned to Luxor on November 23rd … then they could explore further, find the contents … learn more about the history of the boy king.


The treasures of Tutankhamun’s tomb are quite extraordinary … all 5,366 objects (“wonderful things” – as described by Carter) give us an understanding of the importance of ritual and of his life, albeit entombed here with him … and serving to help him find his way to and thrive in the netherworld … to live forever.


Tile Faience

Incredibly the mummy of the young golden pharaoh had remained in its nest of coffins, lying peacefully and undisturbed for more than 3,000 years.


Zahi Hawass – the world’s most famous Egyptologist – wrote the catalogue accompanying the Exhibition – which celebrates the centennial of Tutankhamun’s discovery and in 1922 the return of all the Treasures, presently meant to be travelling to ten exhibition cities, for permanent display in the new Grand Egyptian Museum.

This is Life's Egyptian
Number celebrating
Tutankhamun's tomb find


I dithered about adding this visit to that ‘long’ day … but am so glad I did … and depending what suppression Covid does to their other appearances … I consider myself extremely fortunate that I went before lockdown.


This has got quite long … but I wasn’t sure what to do … and suddenly thought I could write an A-Z about Tutankhamun and his golden treasures … which will bullet point aspects of the workmanship of those times, the history of this most famous of Pharaohs, and snippets that I found fascinating …


It’s been interesting to note in the comments that four of you have remembered seeing previous exhibitions or wanting to … Swedish Inger, who when her mother visited Los Angeles in 1970 – went to the exhibition that year; Aussie Denise visited in London in 1972 – when I wouldn’t brave the nightmarish queues … kudos to her for doing so, Canadian Deniz, now in Switzerland, is keen to visit the exhibition currently on in Zurich.  I thought there was a.n.other … but apologies I have forgotten.


Right – I’d better get writing my A-Z … after I’ve got back into the blogging vein and getting over to comment on your sites …


Saatchi Gallery's website for the Tutankhamun exhibition

More reference sites shortly, or on the A-Z post ... I just want to publish this!

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Interlude … Tamarisk, Old Man’s Beard … last of the summer …


Walking down to the lonely sea and sky, as the last of the summer unwound – before being brutally interrupted with the almost unannounced coming of an early winter … perhaps rough autumn would be a better description of the much needed torrents of rain and hail we had here …

Old Man's Beard

 … the hedgerows bubbled over with Old Man’s Beard and waving crusted salt cedar heather-coloured Tamarisk fronds …

 … gorgeous sight to the eyes framing the English Channel, with its rocky shore guarded by pebble embedded groynes …


Tamarisk fronds

I’ve been reading about Linnaeus … the great naturalist and taxonomer (Carl Linnaeus (1707-78), who invented the system of giving all living organisms two Latin names.


It was he who gave Tamarix Gallica, the French Tamarisk, its botanical classification in 1753, while it had been in cultivation since 1596.


Gaz Nougat from Isfahan, Iran

How do they know: I guess recorded as such … though, to me, of more surprise is that its juice is an ingredient for Gaz – a Persian nougat delicacy from Isfahan, central Iran.  (White nougat is delicious … )


Old Man’s Beard … what a name … for our only native clematis (Clematis vitalba), which in folk lore is also known as the baccy plant – not something I’d heard of before …


Looking down towards the seashore

… I spotted this (to me) anomaly when I read an article by one of our broadcasters, Monty Don, … known as ‘the nation’s gardener’ … he’d learnt as a kid from ‘an old boy’, a farm labourer, that Old Man’s Beard stems could be smoked, after they were peeled, showing the confined woody tubes, which could then be lit …


… bliss … the two kids could loaf with a smoke  under a hedge mulling over their future … before they became old enough for a proper ‘straight’ – as cigarettes were called.


Cuban cigar - showing rolls
It seems that once technology in the 1880s caught up … affording a packet of cigarettes led to smokers rejecting roll-ups.  Over the next 100 years we know what happened … yet in War needs must and at times the poor resorted to finding other ways to have a smoke.

I’m using this ‘interlude’ to post some photos before the ‘rough autumn’ really sets in … and to see if I can control Blogger – at least enough to not cause me any more ill-dressed posts … which I do not like!


Virginia Creeper turning - early September

As you might expect I couldn’t but help but add a few anecdotes in to the post … my mother, who would have been 100 in a couple of weeks, told me about this plant as we drove my grandmother around the lanes of Cornwall in the early 1970s …


… the other garden plant names I mainly remember by that osmosis of youth – growing up … but Old Man’s Beard (or Traveller’s Joy, as it was also known) has always stuck in my memory – as my Ma’s hedgerow plant.


One of the many paths going
down towards the sea

Here’s to a positive ending to this post … we shall see … as long as I centralise the photos 'we're' ok ... for today that will do ... the next one will be the last of my London visits - to the Tutankhamun exhibition: it was wonderful!


Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 25 September 2020

We are the World Blogfest # 41: Flock Together …


Covid strikes, businesses wonder if they can keep going, people are anxious … how to destress …

Ollie Olanipekun's green
woodpecker that inspired him


… one man was using nature, then started taking photos of birds and putting them onto his Instagram page … to his surprise one commenter identified each bird …


… communication started – they were of the same age (mid-twenties), both from London … then set out for a walk together … and not long after that “Flock Together” began …


"Flock Together" - c/o Zaineb Abelque
Ollie Olanipekun, heads up a creative agency … his new friend Nadeem Perera, a sports coach, had taken to birdwatching as a teenager to help himself through a turbulent teenage period …


The collective is a sharing ‘flock’ for people of colour … Perera is the bird specialist – always on hand to identify and add to knowledge about each species; Ollie encourages openness – where they share their thoughts on life and talk frankly about experiences … as he says:


Black people, in particular can be pretty bad at talking about their emotions … so the main thing I want to achieve is to support people of colour who have been going through such a rough time” …


It’s a cross section of creative-people … who can share, join in, generate ideas … or just find tranquillity – which being in natures gives you …

“You don’t have to be anything more than what you are” – quote by Nadeem Perera …


The collective has only been going since April and I hope they’ve had a happy summer … they are certainly helping many …


… with plans to visit schools and appropriate organisations … they will be expanding their reach … with trips out, always keeping the local walks going, while making sure there are no barriers to disadvantaged backgrounds.

That's a Blackcap ...  

They seem to be having fun and to have established firm, supportive friendships … which I think is just wonderful … going above and beyond for others … the word is spreading – other (people of colour) birding, walking or hiking groups are coming about …


Ollie and Nadeem enjoying themselves - as a 
promotional photo by Zaineb Abelque

… as they say in due time – no doubt their ‘open-air-bird-doors’ will spread … but for now they’re happy with their ‘Flock Together’ of gaggling humans.


This is a perfect example for a We are the World post … helping people ease out of the Covid darkness and gather mental strength ready for the light release (that surely has to come) in 2021 …


We are the World Blogfest

In Darkness, Be Light


Flock Together: Urban Birdwatching in London - c/o Hype Beast - and I would like to acknowledge Zaineb Abelque's photos from the Hype Beast article ... thank you ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Monday, 21 September 2020

London Visits pre-lockdown, Tate Britain and Steve McQueen … part 7 …


I was off south from the Ladbroke Estate area to the National Gallery of British Art – now known as Tate Britain.


Millbank Pier - Tate connections

I hadn’t realised there’s a river boat connection between the two Tates … probably to be used only when I have plenty of time in London – rarely, if ever.


We need to go back to Tate Modern to explore Steve McQueen’ s exhibits … I didn’t stop for long to look at the 14 exhibits … some slides, mostly film and video … during February and March  there were some workshops –which slid in before the Covid curtain came down.


My approach to exhibitions is usually not to rush to do the write up – because over time I can learn more and don’t need to cogitate while I’m at the exhibition.


The link for the downloadable
brochure is below

I know who Steve McQueen is … as I’d been to see his highly acclaimed film ‘12 Years A Slave’ (an 1853 slave narrative memoir)– but knew little else – the medium is almost beyond my remit.  So this exploration has been interesting … and I can satisfy my own interest now – yet I can let us see relevant websites where we can learn more.


McQueen, who is of Grenadian and Trinidadian descent, was born in London in 1969 … fortunately, after some school institutional racism, his creativity gave him an outlet … and he studied art and design at Chelsea College of Arts, then fine art at Goldsmiths College, University of London – before honing in on filmmaking and video art.


He (c/o of Tate Modern brochure) is celebrated for his uncompromising vision … as his art combines an experimental approach to the moving image with a sensitivity to the social and political conditions we live in.  Many of his works are poignant portraits of place and time.


I rather wish I’d had time to explore … but now looking at the brochure (download below) … these are two that I’ve picked out (descriptions c/o the brochure):


Western Deep (2002)  The TauTona mine in South Africa, known as ‘Western Deep’, is the world’s deepest gold mine.  Employing more than 5,000 people, it operates twenty-four hours a day.

The film begins in complete darkness as the miners descend three-and-a-half kilometres (2.17 miles) underground.

McQueen documents an intense work regime where the temperature can reach over 90 degC,   accompanied by jarring sounds created by the mechanical equipment.  Western Deep is a hellish representation of labour that makes the silent resolve of the miners all the more powerful.


TauTona Mine logo
Having been down a mine – hardly any depth – I can appreciate what McQueen has done here … the film must awe inspire … and expose us to the horrors of earning a living.

(Running time 24 minutes – video, colour, sound)


End Credits (2012 – ongoing) is an ongoing project dedicated to the African-American singer and actor Paul Robeson (1898-1976).  A prominent civil rights activist, Robeson was blacklisted and put under surveillance by the FB from 1941 until two years after his death.

McQueen’s film includes thousands of documents from his FBI file, including annotated redactions acquired through the Freedom of Information Act. 

The documents roll past like the credits of a film, while voices on the sound track read from the documents out of sync with the image on screen.

(Running time 5 hours 38 minutes continuing video play - the audio goes on for 14 hours+)


Paul Robeson

I leave you to check out the available downloadable brochure describing the other 12 exhibited entries …  


Duveen Galleries showing some of the
billboards - they stretched along the whole
wall space of the galleries
Right – back to Tate Britain … where McQueen had/has another exhibition … this one is his epic portrait of London’s year 3 pupils (age 7/8) presented originally on billboards across London – but brought together into the huge Duveen galleries space at Tate Britain.


One of the less formal groups -
possibly from a special needs school
Again words taken from the blurb: Year 3 is considered a milestone year in a child’s development – when they start to be more aware of being part of a bigger world beyond their families and friendship groups.


The individual class photos are a microcosm of society, and were blown up into 600 monumental billboards or as here at the Tate gathered together in an epic group portrait, they are a testament to London’s great diversity.


Overview of a few of the class
photo groups
Every primary school in London was invited to take part in the project.  1,054 schools of every kind – state, independent, faith and special needs schools – took up the invitation: all in the form of a traditional class photo … 76,146 faces from the schools – that’s two-thirds of the city’s entire population of seven-to-eight year olds – an unapologetic celebration of multi-cultural London.


There’s true delight … on the faces of these children and their teachers pays testament to the work each photographer did to make them feel comfortable …


Duveen Galleries
courtesy of Rikard Osterlund

… then there are the reviews … wonderful descriptions … skewed ties, missing teeth, checked summer dresses, woolly tightsgrinning cheery kids - various websites to take a look at.


There may be no single meaning to “Year 3”, but that gives the portraits a social significance – which will reflect from the future back to the year 2018/19 when the portraits were taken.


Lastly coming this Autumn a miniseries:


Black Panther poster -
Letitia Wright stars
Small Axe – a British American anthology series, created and directed by McQueen is set to premiere on BBC One, and Amazon Prime Video.  I’ll leave you to look … three episodes are scheduled to open the 58th New York Film Festival on Sept 25th (Friday), while the Mangrove episode will open the 64th BFI London Film Festival on October 7th , 2020.


John Boyega by Gage Skidmore

However you might be interested to know that Letitia Wright of Black Panther fame, as too John Boyega of Star Wars fame both star … for more information see Wiki.


I will be keeping my eyes open for ‘Small Axe’ here on our screens in early October.


There’s a lot of exploring to do from these exhibits … and a greater understanding about Steve McQueen’s services to the visual arts … for which he received a knighthood in the 2019/20 honours list.


Photo taken in 2009
We have one last exhibition to see … up the road, on the way back to Victoria Station before my train home.  My timed ticket was 4.30 … so little hurting legs again put one foot forward – towards the Saatchi Gallery and the Tutankhamun treasures … and got lost!  Such is life … the day was worth it …

Steve McQueen (director) ... c/o Wiki ... 

Tate Modern - McQueen Exhibition ... the guide is downloadable from here ... 

New York Times article on McQueen ... 

"Year 3" exhibition at Tate Britain ... 

Small Axe (mini series) ... details re opening Film Festival opening dates in New York and London ... 

PS - sorry this is a mess ... but blame it on you know who = blogger ... I suppose I'll adjust ... really time-wasting ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories