Mexican muralist artist Diego Rivera


This 8 December 2017 video is about Mexican muralist artist Diego Rivera.

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Chilean anti-dictatorship mural restored in England


Gilberto Hernandez, one of the Chilean exiles who worked on the artwork, pictured with the mural. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

From the Yorkshire Evening Post in England:

Forgotten Leeds mural tells enduring story of solidarity

By Chris Bond

Friday 08 December 2017

For decades a giant mural painted by a group of Chilean students and refugees had been forgotten about, hidden from view behind a wall in the foyer at Leeds University Union.

It could have been lost forever had a Chilean PhD student not happened to catch a glimpse of it during a refurbishment earlier this year and recognised his country’s national flag. The student posted a picture online of the artwork, which turned out to be a mural painted in 1976 by Chilean exiles who had fled from General Pinochet’s reign of tyranny in their homeland.

The mural, copied from the kind of cultural poster often found on the streets of Chile prior to Pinochet’s military coup, features miners and agricultural workers along with the slogan ‘And There Will be Work For all’ written in Spanish.

Now, more than 40 years after it was first painted, the damaged mural is being restored with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It was originally created in the Students’ Union to help draw attention to the plight of the thousands of Chileans who suffered under Pinochet’s rule in the aftermath of the coup that ousted the democratically elected Marxist leader, Salvadore Allende, in 1973.

The story of the Chilean students and refugees who painted the mural was covered at the time by … the Yorkshire Evening Post. Among those who worked on it was Gilberto Hernandez. He had been a journalist in Chile and spent two years in prison before being released.

He was allowed to leave the country with his young wife, but left behind his mother, sister and friends. Thousands of political refugees fled Chile during this period, with many arriving in the UK and in particular places like Sheffield and Leeds. Mr Hernandez was among those who came to Leeds, arriving here in the autumn of 1975. He said: “There were over 200 Chilean people that came to Leeds and we were supported by organisations like the Chile Solidarity Campaign, which helped us find accommodation and families to stay with until we were settled. “We went to the university for meetings and to use the cafe and we asked them if we could paint a mural and they said ‘yes.’”

Mr Hernandez studied at the university before working as a librarian at The Yorkshire Post for more than 20 years, but over time he and his Chilean friends forgot about the mural. Which is why he is delighted that it has now been ‘found’ and is being restored. He believes it is not only important to Chilean exiles living in the UK, but all those who have found themselves in a similar situation.

He said: “It has a strong meaning to me because it denounces the crimes committed by the Pinochet dictatorship and still acts as a symbol of solidarity and friendship for the people who have been persecuted by dictators and continues to show hope for refugees.” Once restored, the mural will form the centrepiece of a resource library dedicated to refugees and asylum seekers, bringing members of the student, local and Chilean communities together.

Union Affairs Officer Jack Palmer said: “We hope that the mural’s inspiring story will encourage new political artwork in Leeds and bring students, refugees, local residents and the Yorkshire Chilean community closer together.” The restoration work will begin next month and is due to be completed by February. In September 1973, Chile’s president Salvador Allende, the … democratically-elected Marxist head of state, was overthrown and died in a military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet and backed by the CIA.

Under the subsequent dictatorship, more than 3,000 political opponents were killed, while thousands more were tortured or disappeared. People were arrested for their political or trades union work, or simply for supporting the previous government. Many of the refugees that fled to the UK ended up in Leeds. About 30 refugees landed in the city in November 1974, with the remainder arriving in October the following year.

See also here.

Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol, new film


This September 2017 video is called THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS | Official Trailer.

By Joanne Laurier in the USA:

The Man Who Invented Christmas: Charles Dickens and the writing of A Christmas Carol

8 December 2017

Directed by Bharat Nalluri; screenplay by Susan Coyne, based on the book by Les Standiford.

“No one could feel more deeply for Nature’s stepchildren, the blind, the dumb, and the deaf, nor more deeply–and this says even more–for the stepchildren of society .”

–Franz Mehring on Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens’ novella, A Christmas Carol, published on December 19, 1843, is the story of the dramatic moral transformation of the wealthy, miserly, misanthropic businessman Ebenezer Scrooge, under the influence of several ghostly spirits who pay him a visit on Christmas Eve.

The spirits help Scrooge see the error of his dreadful ways, including the mistreatment of his overworked and impoverished clerk, Bob Cratchit, who has a crippled son, known as Tiny Tim. Scrooge’s initial comment about Tim, who is not expected to live long, is cruel and Malthusian: “If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.” Scrooge’s brutal comments about the benefits for the poor of prisons, workhouses and “the Treadmill” also come back to haunt and shame him (“Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted by the Spirit, and was overcome with penitence and grief”).

A Christmas Carol struck a chord with readers in the 1840s, in the midst of the social misery produced by the rise of capitalist industry, and it has remained a staple of popular world literature ever since.

Dickens (1812-1870) began successful public readings of the book in 1849, which he continued until the year of his death.

Modern audiences are more likely to know the novella, or elements of it, from the numerous film and television adaptations. In fact, nearly 20 movies based on A Christmas Carol have been made since 1901, including seven silent versions. Reginald Owen (1938), Alastair Sim (1951) and Albert Finney (1970, in a musical version) are among the leading performers who have taken on the role of Ebenezer Scrooge in film.

There have been, as well, dozens of theater, radio and television adaptations (with Lionel Barrymore, Basil Rathbone, John Carradine, Ralph Richardson, Fredric March, Alec Guinness, Michael Hordern, George C. Scott and Patrick Stewart, among many others, as the immortal miser). There are even five operas based on the work.

Perhaps inevitably, most of the various “second-hand” versions tend to play up the more sentimental and melodramatic aspects of Dickens’ book, which is also an attempt to present something of a panorama of English reality at the time and introduces dozens of characters from various walks of life.

The Man Who Invented Christmas, directed by Bharat Nalluri, is a biographical fantasy that involves an effort to bring A Christmas Carol once again to the screen, this time by reinventing it. For this purpose, the filmmakers turned to the 2008 novel of the same title by Les Standiford, which includes Dickens himself as a character along with his literary creations.

The movie opens as Dickens (Dan Stevens), at the peak of his popularity following the publication of Oliver Twist, is ending his 1842 North America tour. (His travelogue, American Notes for General Circulation includes a condemnation of slavery, linking the plight of the poor in England to that of the slaves in the US).

After his return to London, Dickens’ career undergoes a serious decline over the next several years, with the failure of his next three novels (Nicholas Nickleby, The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge), thereby increasing his financial difficulties. (“London is not a place for a man without money”, Dickens explains in the film). Under intense pressure, Charles begins composing A Christmas Carol.

His publishers, however, see no great potential in a Christmas tale, and give him six weeks to complete the book. Accompanied by his friend and literary agent (and real-life biographer), John Forster (Justin Edwards), Dickens goes to a restaurant where the arrogant William Thackeray (1811-1863), a rival novelist best known for Vanity Fair (1848), taunts the hard-pressed Charles. It’s not long, however, before the writer draws his first inspiration from a rich man’s funeral that is absent of mourners.

Also feeding his imagination is one of his servants, Tara (Anna Murphy), a young, literate Irish immigrant who sparks his interest in a ghostly world (“Spirits crowd over us on Christmas eve”). As the story begins to take shape, Charles interacts with his characters (“Get the name right, and if you’re lucky, the characters will appear.”), most prominently the wizened Scrooge (Christopher Plummer). Jacob Marley (Donald Sumpter), Scrooge’s deceased business partner, emerges from the darkness: “I wear the chains I forged in life–Your chains are all around you–past and present and what is to come.”

The arrival of his irresponsible father, John Dickens (Jonathan Pryce), is an impediment to Charles’ work. It is also the occasion for flashbacks to his early adolescence, when Dickens was forced to work at a blacking factory (pasting labels on pots of boot polish) for six shillings a week, 10 hours a day Monday through Saturday, after his father was taken off to debtors’ prison. Tens of thousands of people unable to pay their debts were incarcerated in such institutions each year in the 18th and 19th centuries in Britain.

Even Charles’ relationship with his pregnant wife Kate (Morfydd Clark)–“Sometimes I feel your characters mean more to you than your own flesh and blood”–and the rest of his household, run by Mrs. Fisk (Miriam Margolyes), becomes strained.

Developing something of a writer’s block, Charles is stumped as to whether Scrooge will be reformed and whether Tiny Tim will live or die. In the end, Scrooge’s redemption also redeems Charles’ relationship with his father (“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another”). Commissioning eight engravings from John Leech (Simon Callow), Charles manages to write the book and scrape together the funds to have it illustrated, printed, bound and distributed to shops in six weeks’ time!

The Man Who Invented Christmas is intended as a piece of light entertainment, and it accomplishes certain of its goals. Stevens as Dickens is the energetic, spirited artist at the mercy of the market. At times amusing, the movie does manage to convey the fact that life in Victorian England is insecure and precarious, and that even the successful Dickens feels the shadow of the debtors’ prison as he races against the clock to fulfill the outrageous demands of his publishers.

But even light entertainment has certain responsibilities. In the popular vein too, opportunities have been missed here. The simplistic, unnecessarily slight film makes only insubstantial, passing references to poverty among children–a major issue then as it is today. (Unhappily, “Dickensian” is a term that cannot yet be retired to the museum shelf.) Related to that, too much emphasis is placed on secondary psychological factors in The Man Who Invented Christmas, such as the father-son relationship.

Dickens was an immense figure, deeply affected by the social and economic transformations of his day, and not merely as the result of his own personal experiences.

The influential American critic Edmund Wilson, commented: “It is difficult for British pundits to see in him the great artist and social critic that he was. … [Dickens] was nevertheless the greatest dramatic writer that the English had had since Shakespeare, and he created the largest and most varied world.” Whenever the novelist comes to deal with institutions, Wilson went on, “he makes them either ridiculous or cruel, or both at the same time.” (“Dickens: The Two Scrooges,” 1941)

The origins of A Christmas Carol were not as slight and jovial as The Man Who Invented Christmas would have us believe. According to letterpile.com: “Charles Dickens was involved in charities and social issues throughout his entire life. In early 1843 he read a government report describing the conditions of women and children employed in mines and factories, it described the abuse of the laborers. [Friedrich Engels read the same report, which documented that children as young as eight were hauling coal carts 11 hours a day.] He was stricken down by these victims. Dickens vowed he would strike a ‘sledge hammer blow,’ on behalf of the ‘poor man’s child.’”

“The idea for the Carol came to him in October 1843, while doing a talk [in industrial Manchester, England, where the average life expectancy of a laborer in 1842 was 17]; he thought the best way to bring attention to the horror that was happening, would be to write a story instead of an article.”

In A Christmas Carol, a boy and a girl, Ignorance and Want, are hidden in the robe of the Ghost of Christmas Present. “‘They are Man’s, and they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!’ cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. ‘Slander those who tell it ye! Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And bide the end!’”

Is this so remote from our own time?

London Grenfell disaster survivors deserve justice, singer Adele says


This video about London, England says about itself:

Adele Attends Emotional Vigil For Grenfell Tower Fire in London

15 June 2017

By Marina Fang:

12/04/2017 04:52 pm ET

Adele Calls On Theresa May To Do More To Investigate Deadly London Apartment Fire

The singer has made helping victims of the Grenfell Tower fire a personal cause.

Helping victims of a deadly high-rise fire that took place in London over the summer has become a personal matter for Adele. The singer has added her voice to an effort to promote more representation and transparency in the United Kingdom’s investigation into the incident.

Adele asked her fans on Monday to sign a petition in which victims and their families call on British Prime Minister Theresa May “to take urgent action to restore their faith in the Grenfell Tower inquiry.”

“We must keep on talking about what is still not happening,” the singer wrote in a tweet distributing the petition.

Officials in the United Kingdom are investigating circumstances of the fire that killed 71 people, including many low-income immigrants, at a London apartment complex in June.

Victims and their families have protested that the panel conducting the investigation is not representative of the community and has not been transparent about its proceedings, according to the BBC.

Adele, a London native, has continually championed the victims of the fire, including using her recent concert tour to raise money for relief. The singer also attended a vigil less than 24 hours after the fire to comfort victims. She later thanked firefighters for their efforts, having tea with them and bringing them cake. In August, Adele hosted a private screening of the movie “Despicable Me 3” for children who were hurt in the fire.

Grenfell fire families challenge government inquiry cover-up: here.

Important dragonfly art rediscovered


Norfolk hawker dragonfly, KBIN, Brussels

This picture shows a Norfolk hawker dragonfly. It is part of a recently rediscovered collection of 19th century dragonfly and damselfly art.

Translated from Dutch Vroege Vogels radio:

Dragonflies on watercolors

Friday, December 1, 2017

At the end of the nineteenth century, the Belgian Baron Edmond de Sélys Longchamps drew and painted many hundreds of dragonflies. Not for fun, but for science.

An important and valuable collection. Still, the folders with dragonfly aquarelles fell into oblivion. But in 2002 they were found again, almost literally under a layer of dust in a cabinet at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels.

Since then the Dutch dragonfly researchers Karin Verspui and Marcel Wasscher have studied the drawings. ‘We are talking about a time when there was obviously no good photography yet. This kind of drawings and watercolors were the gold standard for describing species”, says Verspui. ‘There are very special examples, including many so-called holotype specimens. These are the original individuals used to describe a new species. Where most of the type specimens themselves have completely lost their color, these watercolors are still of exceptional quality. These drawings deserve a larger audience”, says Verspui.

The digitized watercolors can be found on the RBINS site.

Ms Verspui said today on radio that Baron Edmond de Sélys Longchamps was an amateur entomologist. Nevertheless, he wrote scientific descriptions of about 700 dragonfly and damselfly species; about a third of the 2000 species known to science then.

How Scottish workers sabotaged Chilean dictator Pinochet


This video says about itself:

NAE PASARAN (2013) – Official Trailer

In a small Scottish town in 1974, factory workers refuse to carry out repairs on warplane engines in an act of solidarity against the violent military coup in Chile. Four years pass then the engines mysteriously disappear in the middle of the night. Forty years later they re-unite to look back on what was gained and what was lost.

Director: Felipe Bustos Sierra Producer: Rebecca Day (SDI Productions) Executive Producers: Sonja Henrici & Noe Mendelle Editor: Anne Milne Animation Director: Frederic Plasman Camera: Julian Schwanitz Sound: Jack Coghill

Highlights: Edinburgh International Film Festival 2013 DOK Leipzig 2013 – Official Selection and Animadoc Dove Award Nomination Arcipelago 2013 – International Competition The Short Planet – Rome London Short Film Festival 2014 – Official Competition Glasgow Short Film Festival 2014 – Scottish Competition Tribeca Film Festival 2014 – Official Competition

By Felipe Bustos Sierra in Scotland:

The cots who downed Pinochet’s war planes

Saturday 2nd December 2017

Felipe Bustos Sierra tells the extraordinary story of working-class international solidarity that has inspired his documentary Nae Pasaran

I first met Robert Somerville at his Motherwell tower block flat five years ago this month. I had known of the story of the workers at Rolls Royce East Kilbride for decades but found out their names only recently. Robert and his fellow shop stewards led one of the longest and most efficient boycotts against the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship in Chile, although it has taken five years to find out how much they accomplished.

From 1974 to 1978, they refused to repair and return Avon jet engines from the Chilean air force.

These engines had powered the Hawker Hunter jets that bombed the Moneda Palace in Santiago on September 11 1973 and put an end to the first left-wing democracy in Latin America.

The Chilean military-led coup and the death of President Salvador Allende marked the beginning of 17 years of dictatorship, systematic human rights abuse and press censorship. The National Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission have estimated that there were around 30,000 victims of human rights abuses in Chile, with 27,255 tortured and 2,279 executed.

Six months after the coup, aero-engine inspector Bob Fulton, nicknamed “Tank commander” for his years as a WWII tank mechanic, noticed the job sheets for the first Chilean engine on his desk. With the help of his colleague Stuart Barrie they alerted anyone working on Chilean engines: “These engines are blacked. We’ll not work on them.”

By the end of the day, eight engines of the Chilean air force were found throughout the factory and work on them stopped.

The works committee, of which Somerville and John Keenan were representatives, backed Bob’s decision which was supported by the Amalgamated Engineering Union (AEU) executive.

No jobs were lost and, after a year of deliberation with the management, the Chilean engines were loosely assembled, put into crates and left to rust in the yard. The longest boycott in the history of Chilean solidarity had begun.

On the August 26 1978 at 2am, two lorries and an iron crane with fake licence plates from an fictional transport company were let into the yard and took away the engines. The workers were told soon after that the engines were back in Chile and already in service. It was the last they heard about the matter, with little indication as to whether they’d had any impact.

The “blacking of Chilean engines by Scottish workers” had become one of the old myths of the Chile solidarity movement shared at solidarity events throughout the 1970s and ‘80s, well beyond the time of the engines’ disappearance.

Robert, John, Bob and Stuart have told me this story in their own words, from their own — at times, very different — memories over the last five years.

At the end of our initial meetings, they each had the same question, “Do you think we can still find the engines?”

For the last five years, I have researched and filmed in Britain and Chile a documentary called Nae Pasaran (They Shall Not Pass) — an investigation into the true impact of the boycott.

The film, for the first time, includes interviews with Chileans who crossed paths with the engines, for better or worse, and provides painstakingly documented evidence that the boycott was a triumph kept hidden by the Pinochet propaganda machine.

Based on our research, the Chilean ambassador bestowed, in 2015, on three of the workers the highest honour given to foreigners by the government of Chile. The Scottish pensioners became Commanders of the Republic of Chile.

Finally, earlier this year, we discovered the lost engines in Chile and managed to bring one back to Scotland. It’ll be returned next year to East Kilbride as a monument to the workers’ solidarity.

While we have reached our goals, including hearing the true impact of the boycott straight from the mouth of one of Pinochet’s last surviving generals, our goals have in the end taken us well beyond our financial resources.

We are currently running a fundraising campaign to allow us to complete the documentary.

It concludes on December 20 2017. We would be grateful for any contribution made.

Felipe Bustos Sierra is a Chilean filmmaker, born in exile in Belgium and now living in Scotland. To donate visit www.naepasaran.com.