Monday, 11 November 2019

Remembrance Day … Making Peace with Death …


On this day of Remembrance we will all be viewing departures from this life in different ways depending on our life experiences and those of our family members gone before us …

 
A British charity providing financial, social and
emotional support to members and veterans of the
of the British Armed Forces, their families and
dependants; their motto "Service not Self"

… I mentioned in my last post that I went to see an exhibition in 2012/3 about the value of art in communicating ideas about death - back then I wasn’t quite as ready to see it – yet felt compelled that I should …

... but decided to wait until next year to post about it … there’s quite a lot to show and mention …


The Cenotaph in
Whitehall (2014)
So today – I’ll be remembering everyone I've known who has left this world … including the lady I befriended over the years my mother was in the Nursing Centre - she died eleven days ago, two days after her 80th … 



Eirene - Goddess of Peace

... she had not had an easy life - eighteen years of it had been spent in the Nursing Centre … but with the encouragement and care particularly of the staff, and us, she had a lovely happy birthday, perked up considerably, dying in peace … all we can do for others helps …




Cardinal Newman (1801 – 1890), who has recently been made a Saint (our first since 1615 and more about him anon), stood for the life of the spirit against the forces that would debase human dignity and human destiny …


His Eminence Saint
John Henry Newman in 1881
before his canonization


This today is the simple message I hope we can remember … we need to be compassionate to all and to understand each other …




I watched the Remembrance Service at the Cenotaph, … which always brings tears to my eyes reminding us of who and how many have helped through all the War years … 

We Will Not Forget …

Royal British Legion

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Halloa Halloween … Memento Mori …




These photos came to light when I was sorting my Ma’s stuff out … and thought as she’d have been 99 now – they were appropriate to show … 

Too late for me - but what about you?




... they’re from about 40 years ago … and there’s a young one of me … pink shirt + more hair!!



Side view ... 




I must have been in South Africa, as I don’t remember seeing her in these outfits … 



Reverse ... bones and ... 




... my Ma was a great fund raiser for the west Cornwall community … fairly obvious when you see these photos … and somewhere there’s some of her as a rhubarb plant!


Stepping out ... 




Then to change the tone of this post I found a brochure on this collection with an anonymous photo, taken in 1942, which appeared in an exhibition I went to see in 2012/13 … ‘Death: The Richard Harris Collection’ …

From the brochure - 1942
the photo for Room 5, titled
 'Commemoration'




… as the brochure describes: ‘at the heart of the exhibition are questions about the value of art in communicating ideas about death and the body’ ...



'Vanitas Still Life with a Bouquet and a Skull' (detail)
Adriaen van Utrecht (1599 - 1652)




... while the note at the end of the introduction advises about the exhibition: ‘Sometimes disturbing, occasionally macabre and often moving, the images on display provide a singular insight into the history of our eternal desire to make peace with death’.




A young me in pink ...  with Care Home staff ...

… perhaps after all – it is 101 years since the end of World War 1 – I will draft something up from the above exhibition … 








... some art work, with some quotes … for November 11th … I can’t really omit Remembrance Day this year.






Heralding Happy Halloween


On a lighter note – I leave you with one or two more amusing photos of my Mama …








Happy Halloweenjust don’t get tempted by the sweets, or should I say candy, that will no doubt abound …



Mum working in the garden at
the Care Home she ran



Wellcome Collection – press release for Death: ASelf-Portrait  (Richard Harris is a former antique print dealer from Chicago)




PS Memento Mori – is Latin for ‘remember you will die’ …




Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 25 October 2019

We are the World Blogfest # 30: Invisible Women, Chhanv Foundation and Project Why …




Invisible Women – how often do we (the females of this world) feel that way … rather more often than we should … while here in the west … we can at least speak out, and reasonably often get heard.

#WATWB

 The book about Fifty Percent of human beings of the world shows how imperfect research, algorithms, scientific papers – all are based on the 50% standard man (who is that?!) …





Invisible Women - exposing data bias in
a world designed for men ... 

… much of life has been designed by and for ‘the man’ – so often no comparisons are done for the women of this world … this goes right down to our cells … we are different (so different) to the other half of the world. 



All I can say is – please read this book … order it into your local library … and encourage other readers to read it.  It is extraordinary … AI is coming along – who is it designed by?  who is it designed for … half the world’s population, or are we expected to believe it’s applicable to us all …






A victim showing her bravery ...
c/o Chhanv Foundation

Moving right along – but under the ‘banner’ of invisible … people who have had acid thrown into their faces … yes it can happen to both men and women, though usually females.



Chhanv is a non-profit organisation in India working for the rehabilitation of acid attack survivors. 






A youngster, who's been offered the chance to
learn and help himself and others
via Project Why (image c/o Project Why)


Project Why, also a non-profit organisation, working to educate, support and encourage underprivileged children, who have to scavenge to help each other live the organisation offers spaces for them to dream, learn and transform their young livesa place of hope




Damyanti’s book ‘You Beneath Your Skin’ is supporting both charities … and any small or large donation you could give them (preferably both charities, but either) would be wonderful … these people didn’t ask to live their lives as they do … but as you can see – they have a life … they can smile and they will help others, who suffer similarly …


Please support her
I highly recommend you read her book (it is very well written) … especially if you like thrillers … and like to learn – you’ll be taken to the underbelly of Delhi life … a place for us to know more about – however much you might not want to know … the situations occur here in the UK, as they will do in all countries … and any purchases of the book will support both charities.


Project Why has just lost a major donor – Cook’s Travel - and so could really do with extra support.


All proceeds from Damyanti’s book (via Amazon) will go towards Project Why and Chhanv … so please buy, and/or please order from your library … my request is ‘under review’ … 


Damyanti Biswas had the excellent idea of the #WATWB posting format - on the last Friday of the month ... encouraging us bloggers, authors, writers to promote positive stories ... a necessity in this troubled world of ours … we aim to shine a light on positive projects that draw us in …


Let us flood social media with peace and love, and “In Darkness, Be Light.”


Belinda was one of the founders of this amazing idea – to challenge us all to let the world know about a human news story that lights our world … here’s her guidelines … please join us – we’d love to see more #WATWB articles …


Project Why link ... 



PS - I didn't explain myself too well here ... Invisible Women ... refers to the data collected, the fact that most things are designed by men for men - i.e. the seat belt ... set for the 'standard man' - no differences taken into account for women.  

Or eg only talking to men for research into something new ... presumably we feature as 50% of users as well ... 

or ... all the unpaid work that is done: caring, housework, taking care of house and home - is usually not factored into what constitutes being paid for ... 


Hilary Melton-Butcher 
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Write ... Edit ... Publish ... Bloghop: Horrible Harvest ...




I had all kinds of ideas for Hilary’s Horrribile Harrrvesting Horrorrr … but haplessness held her in hostile hubris of being pickled …



… life intervened – too much going on, needed to make time for meetings … and then the dreaded happened – my network went down … there’s now’t to be done … but be patient: I was.



Potato Blight

Horrible Harvest went west … I gave up worrying and here I am with a brief update … I’ll be around to read all the WEP entries – this one is out of bounds!


The Emigrants Farewell  - from an
engraving by Henry Doyle (1827 - 1893)



I have a good #WATWB post for Friday … and then a fun one for Halloween … I’ll be taking November off – I have to sort life out here … but will make appearances, no posts though … and then #WATWB for November will kick-start my postings.





Harvest is usually the most wonderful time of year … especially with the generosity our marvellous plants offer us … which we too need to share ... 




Come, ye thankful people, come,
Raise the song of harvest home!
All is safely gathered in,
‘Ere the winter storms begin;




See you all soon …

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 4 October 2019

How to Handle Books – circa 1937 …




A very small exhibit at University of London’s Senate House Library drew my attention … the instructions are dated 27 September 1937 …

Senate House Library
looking up 


Having got waylaid with my ‘Heads in the City’, and now this small display case of instructions … I’ll get to the main reason for visiting the Library shortly!





Bumblebee carrying pollen -
its sweets ... 
I love the quote: 

“We should make the same use of a Book that the Bee does of a Flower; she steals sweets from it, but does not injure it.”


The instructions - sorry slightly
out of focus ... 



There were a few books in the display case – showing what happens when we mistreat our ‘tomes’ …


… while here are the instructions (1937) to library readers (which I hope you’ll also read fully from the photo) for ensuring a new book, or any book is not damaged:




First – how to open a new book … so the spine will not be damaged – i.e. will be bent evenly at all points; handle it gently, do not force it …


Spine damage



Second – on turning pages: do not wet fingers …



Third – suitable book marks are slips of paper: corners should not be turned down, nor should books be laid face down …





Fourth – if there are pages still bound together … use a thin paper knife working in a zig-zag motion.  Do not use fingers, pocket knife, or other unsuitable substitutes …


Antigone and Creon
(I can see what the Librarian thinks of this -
it's in the display!)

Fifth – books must not be disfigured by readers’ annotations or underscoring.  Also do not lay paper on book to write your notes.




Sixth – it is a reader’s duty to protect the books he uses: the next user will then also enjoy the clean, fresh copy.


Highlighting and thus
defacing McCarthyism

Then comes the quote – it’s a delight isn’t it … 


... while the instructions haven’t changed much, and still will apply to vintage or ancient books usually found in libraries, though some of us will have a few at home too –

Books with library's call numbers
on the spine



- protect our books, they are treasures of the mind, as well as for the future.


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 27 September 2019

We are the World Blogfest # 29: Fish Scale Bioplastic …




James Dyson Awards … 2019 National Winners announced from over 1,000 young engineers, designers and entrepreneurs …



 … Lucy Hughes wins the British National Award while all 81 finalists from 27 countries and regions competing in their area will progress to the international stages.



… the University of Sussex graduate used fish waste and sustainable algae to create MarinaTex, a compostable alternative to single-use plastic …



She practiced to get the right consistency and result – by using her student accommodation kitchen!  Makes one wonder …



Common Red Algae used
for Agar


But what an amazing idea that was 'spawned' from looking into the fishing industry and its waste … she believed she could find value in the waste, and was able to discover resources that are renewable to use as the organic binder.




What it Does
Her Inspiration
How it Works
Design Process
How it is Different
Future Plans
    and the Awards she’s won …



Medieval view of fish processing ...
by Peter Brueghel, the elder 1556
Anything that aims to utilise fish waste, use organic and sustainable products to create this bioplastic deserves to be known about and applauded.


The James Dyson Award list highlights other winners, who will be whittled down to 20 for the international prize due to be announced on 17 October.




Lucy Hughes c/o DeZeen article
Here's to more like Lucy Hughes, her mentors and Sussex University who all deserve a huge applause for thinking out of the box and realising the wealth that can be obtained from a mountain of fish waste, and then mixing it with sustainable algae from the oceans to create MarinaTex.





We are the World – in Darkness Be Light





Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Heads in the City …




These appeared at places I visited, or had not intended to visit …


I got lost before I started - this is Brunswick Square ...
... lots of connections here too - anon!
My head too has wandered rather far and wide in looking things up for this post noting future articles … but for now we’ll stick to a few relevant heads …




Jeremy Bentham
(1748 - 1832)


I’d been to see an exhibition at Senate House Library … but on walking through to the exhibition area I passed some renowned heads … well I like to know who’s who in the library … so stopped to take photos and to find out … the first was:



Jeremy Bentham (1748 – 1832) the English philosopher, jurist and social reformer regarded as the founder of modern utilitarianism …


Sorry Mr B - I chopped
your head off
Bentham thought it was unfair and wrong that universities should be controlled by religious bodies and that they were open only to male members of the Church of England.


So he helped to found University College, London, a secular college open to all males, regardless of personal belief.



UCL's beloved treasure -
his auto icon
His other claim to fame was that he wished his body to be used for medical research, but that his skeleton, dressed in his own clothes, was to be preserved in University College, so that he could continue to attend meetings there!



His clothed skeleton, with sculpted head and hands, can still be seen in a glass case in University College, being one of their treasured possessions. 

Augustus de Moran
(1806 - 1871)


The other three sculptures that I saw were men associated in one way or another with reforming Britain:




Augustus de Morgan

Augustus de Morgan (1806 – 1871) – a mathematician and logician.   He formulated De Morgan’s laws (beyond me!) and introduced the term mathematical induction, making his idea rigorous.  (father to William de Morgan, the potter and creative designer, who influenced the Arts and Craft Movement.)


Sir Richard Quain


Next we see Sir Richard Quain (1816 – 1898) an Irish physician, who enrolled in medicine at University College London … and who, along with other members of his family, left funds with which the Quain Professorships of Botany, English Language and Literature, Law and Physics were endowed.  (He was a great grandfather of author Ian Fleming).






William Shaen
Last but not least the bearded sculpture (by Thomas Woolner), no extant photo of him appears, is of William Shaen (1825 – 1892) a radical lawyer, who helped found Bedford College – the UK’s first higher education college for women.



I then went round the corner to see an exhibition at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) on ‘Stolen Moments - Namibian Music History Untold’ … another post anon! 




Sculptures by Sokari Douglas Camp
But you couldn’t miss these two magnificent sculptures in the foyer of SOAS made from galvanised steel and paint by Sokari Douglas Camp …



Sokari Douglas Camp



… she works predominantly with steel (which she describes as ‘so elastic and flexible’), but also with plastic, wood, feathers, acetate, glass, paint, silver, and gold leaf. 







I quickly went to look at the Silver Vaults off Chancery Lane – I need a long time there, and preferably with a very long pocket – but I found some interesting facts for yet another post!





I was on my way down to Whitechapel, east London to the Gallery that, on Thursdays, stays open into the evening – I was defeated as the works on show or exhibited were beyond my ken!  but …




… as I didn’t actually know where the Gallery was … I had wandered into a large atrium, thinking that might be the Gallery, to ask.






I found myself with two more heads … and a delightful security guard … who - when I squizzed him about them – was somewhat bemused!



The atrium with 'Numen 2'
I understand the CEO was impressed with the sculptor –hence the placement of Numen 1 and Numen 2 in the foyer … they had been part of last year’s Sculpture in the City …




The sculptor, Thomas J Price, is a multi-disciplinary artist, London born and based, working across the mediums of sculpture, film, photography and performance.


Numen 1


His very individual work explores representation in its many forms – in addition to subconscious perceptions embedded into the human psyche …



Numen is a Latin term for “divinity”:  "the spirit of the place—its numen—was strong" – the spirit or divine power presiding over a thing or a place.




Price is talented … exhibiting at the National Portrait Gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Harewood House and Hales Gallery (a contemporary art space in the Tea Building in London’s East End). 

Numen 2



Renowned artist Damian Hirst owns his work, while other works can also be found in the Rennie Collection (contemporary art) in Vancouver, Canada (but with global connections) – it’s no mean feat for an artist still in their 30s.





Heads, heads, heads and heads … including Bentham’s head (believe it or not) still preserved: mummified and securely locked away … gave me lots of insights into life in this great city from the early 1800s …



Study on proportions of Head and Eyes
by Leonardo da Vinci (1452 - 1519)

… including the advancement of education … as evidenced in Negley Harte’s quote: ‘All universities are different, but some are more different than others.  The University of London is the most different of them all.’   

Negley Harte is an Emiritus Professor in Economic History and has written widely on the foundation and history of the University of London.



My head is bursting … to get this posted … as you can tell rather more articles to follow … so for now I’ll leave Heads in the City … in the City …

Apologies – this is long … but I wanted to at least highlight various subjects (as no doubt you can gather) referencing some background for future posts.

Here too are some links … on the artists …

Thomas J Price – website

Sokari Douglas Camp -  the sculptor


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories