Tag: history

Optimism is a valuable resource

  Jubilee Arts was a pioneering community arts project founded in 1974, in West Bromwich, an industrial town west of Birmingham. It thrived for more than 20 years, making imaginative and serious art with local communities. Then, during the ‘aspirational’ New Labour… Read More

Emerald Cities

A friend’s recent email made me think again about why I have never really believed in irreversible progress­, and certainly not in the emerald cities of political ideologues. Whether it’s scientific socialism or the end of history, left or right, all those… Read More

Why we need parliaments

Yesterday, Canada’s Parliament was attacked by an armed man. Twenty years ago, the philosopher Isaiah Berlin was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Toronto. The following speech was read on his behalf at the award ceremony and has just been… Read More

The Pinning Stones

Portraits from The Pinning Stones by Ray Smith On Thursday, the residents of Scotland decide whether to leave the United Kingdom and establish their own state. Whatever your view of the possible outcomes, we should be thankful that negotiations are not being conducted with arms… Read More

Human diversity is

I have seen the future, brother, it is murder. Leonard Cohen, The Future, (1993) From the street corner where Gavrilo Princip shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie – precipitating not only the First World War but a calamitous century –… Read More

In search of gravitas

Gravitas, the heavy tread of moral earnestness, becomes a bore if it is not accompanied by the light step of intelligence.   (Kenneth Clark, Civilisation, Ch. 4) In 1969, the same year that a NASA programme named after a Classical Greek god put… Read More

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… Read More

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… Read More

Friendly Interest

For much of the British media, 2014 began with a panic about the opening of the UK’s borders to people from Romania and Bulgaria. It remains to be seen whether more of them will come here than the  Britons who have used… Read More

Truth, lies and drawing ink

Documentary filmmakers have an obvious problem with everything that happened before the invention of photography. How do you make a film about the French Revolution without any footage of the events? There is only so much one can do with paintings, engravings… Read More