British Council Azerbaijan

The value of everyday evaluation

‘We all began with the best of intentions, and then ran slap into reality. Very quickly, it was evident that the project was altogether impossible.’ So writes Elizabeth White (Director, British Council Azerbaijan) about a production of Martin McDonagh’s Leenane Trilogy, performed in Baku by Azerbaijani actors in their own language. Her account of the…

Football

I don’t like football. Really.

And it’s not through lack of exposure to the beautiful game. I was taken to a match (Wolverhampton Wanderers led by Derek Dougan) when I was at primary school, where I was also required to participate myself on a far too regular basis. For unaccountable reasons I was once made captain of the Second XI for a…

Mary Beard 1

Cui bloody bono?

The speech of women There is a paradox, acknowledged by the speaker herself, in a woman giving a lecture about how the female voice has been excluded from public discourse since the origins of Western culture. Mary Beard’s lecture, given at the British Museum for the London Review of Books and broadcast on BBC4, was…

Parthenon

Well-worn touchstones

As you approach the Acropolis Museum in Athens you see the Parthenon’s reflection floating in the dark glass wall of its topmost level. It’s an optical trick worthy of the ancient temple builders themselves, bringing the most celebrated monument of European culture from its hill into the city, from the past into modernity, from worship…

British Museum Vikings Exhibition 2014

A small boat on a dark sea

Text of a talk for the Greek EU Presidency conference, “Heritage First! Towards a common approach for a sustainable Europe” • ‘Two gross of broken statues’ In August this year, Europeans will mark the centenary of the start of the First World War, a conflict that, depending on your view of history, could be said to…

Emperor's new clothes

Naked emperors

‘I want to change, but not if it means changing,’ a patient once said to me in complete innocence. This insight from psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz came to mind as I listened to some of the discussion at and around the latest ‘State of the Art’ event. He goes on to explain that, since change means…

Streetwise-Opera

Streetwise in Seville

There was a spontaneous peal of applause in the Teatro Central at the end of this film yesterday, where I showed it during a talk about community arts at a performing arts and social inclusion conference in Seville. The Answer to Everything is Streetwise Opera’s latest work, which I saw recently in Manchester. Combining live performance…