Dutch Aert Schouman’s eighteenth century bird painting exhibited


This 2017 Dutch Dordrechts Museum video is about an exhibition of Aert Schouman’s (1710-1792) bird paintings.

On 24 June 2017, I went to that exhibition in Dordrecht of work by Aert Schouman. Schouman was born in, and worked in Dordrecht for much of his life. Seventeenth century Dutch D’Hondecoeter was an inspiration for Schouman’s art on birds.

Among his works are big oil paintings for the walls of Prince William V‘s palace in The Hague. Schouman did that work in 1788, when he was already 78 years old. Four years later, he died. Three more years later, in 1795, Prince William V fled from invading French revolutionary soldiers to England.

Now, these Schouman paintings are usually in Huis ten Bosch royal palace in The Hague. However, that palace is being reconstructed (which costs lots of taxpayers’ money). So, from now till September 2017, there is an opportunity to see them at an exhibition of Schouman’s work in the Dordrechts Museum in Dordrecht.

Biologists have helped with this exhibition as the birds depicted are from many countries and Schouman often did not know exactly which species he painted. He depicted the birds as he saw them in the aviaries of Prince William V and other rich people. Not in their natural environment, as later painters like John James Audubon would do. Schouman often depicted birds from different continents, which would never meet in the wild, together in the same tree in the same painting. Also, eg, Asian golden pheasants meeting European black grouse.

Nevertheless, Schouman’s bird depictions look full of life.

Schouman depicted not just birds. He was an all-round artist, also painting portraits, landscapes, mammals and more. He decorated fans and drinking glasses.

This is a 2015 Dordrechts Museum video about various sides of Schouman’s art.

In 1734, Schouman made his first depiction of birds, in a watercolour. He lived at a time when science about birds and other animals was progressing, with Linnaeus’ classification of the natural world, and Buffon‘s first steps toward an evolution theory. However, Schouman still depicted flying birds of paradise without feet, because of the misunderstanding then caused by exporting them feetless to Europe from distant hardly known New Guinea. In New Guinea, birds of paradise were used in headdresses, for which the feet were useless. For export, the feet were cut off as well. Though a century before Schouman, Jan Brueghel in a painting made jointly with Rubens, had already depicted a bird of paradise with feet; contrary to most seventeenth century artists and scientists. Later, Schouman’s contemporary Linnaeus still called a bird of paradise species Paradisea apoda, “footless paradise bird.” Nevertheless, in 1758 Schouman depicted a sitting bird of that species with feet.

Feetless bird of paradise flying, by Schouman

Schouman was not consistent on birds of paradise. In the top left painting in this picture, a feetless bird of paradise flies over an Asian silver pheasant and a South American cock-of-the-rock.

Only in the 19th century a European would see a, non-feetless, bird of paradise in the wild for the first time.

As we traveled to Dordrecht, we saw white storks from the train in meadows near Voorschoten.

Along the garden path to the museum entrance, cardboard cutouts of birds: a blue tit, a house sparrow, a toucan, a pelican. On the lawn, a living blackbird.

Dordrecht museum restaurant table, 24 June 2017

Bird figurines on the museum restaurant tables. Like all photos in this blog post, this is a cellphone photo.

Hooded crow and hoopoe, 24 June 2017

One of the first paintings near the entrance of the exhibition shows birds native to the Netherlands, at least in the eighteenth century. At the top of this work, a hooded crow (by now rare in the Netherlands; only in winter) flies. Below it, a hoopoe (no longer a breeding bird in the Netherlands).

Still further down, a male teal flying; and a bearded reedling couple sitting. Below, from left to right: an oystercatcher, a white-fronted goose, a smew, a shelduck, a moorhen and a mute swan.

Cassowary and pheasants, 24 May 2017

Next to it hung a painting of exotic birds, including southern cassowary, golden pheasant and silver pheasant. Also, a brown capuchin monkey.

Crowned pigeon, 24 June 2017

A bit further, this crowned pigeon, one of the world’s biggest pigeons, next to a smaller relative.

Southern crowned pigeon, 24 June 2017

Here, another picture of the same southern crowned pigeon species.

Southern crowned pigeon and pheasants, 24 June 2017

And here, that same crowned pigeon with its context of a silver pheasant couple and flying parrots.

Golden orioles, 24 June 2017

Next, an adult male golden oriole with its youngster in the nest.

There will be more on this blog about the Schouman exhibition. So, stay tuned!

British singer Maddy Carty interviewed


This music video from London, England says about itself:

Maddy Carty – ‘Stay Away’

6 May 2010

Maddy and band play ‘Stay Away’ live in Earls Court’s The Troubadour, 19th March 2010.

Maddy Carty – Vocals
Tom Battye – Guitar
Josh Ingham – Bass
Adam Colwell – Drums
Rosalind Ledger – Backing Vocals

By Len Phelan in Britain:

From an honest place

Friday 23rd June 2017

Singer-songwriter MADDY CARTY tells Len Phelan where’s she’s at, musically and politically

ANYONE who’s been fortunate to see Maddy Carty perform knows that she’s blessed with a belting voice and self-penned songs that belie their infectious pop hooks with subtle takes on how the personal and the political intertwine.

But she’s at pains to avoid pigeonholing. “I don’t really see myself as a political or protest singer,” she tells me. “I just write what I know and feel and naturally sometimes politics are involved. I don’t know if I ever have an intended message as such, it’s more that I want people to feel something and know that it’s coming from an honest place.”

She references her song No Shoes in the Summer, written about her Irish grandparents. “It was quite personal to me and my family but the reason I started writing it was because we were hearing so much of the ‘all these immigrants coming over here’ rhetoric and, like so many other people in Britain, it struck a nerve with me.

I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for immigrants and neither would most of my friends. I think my songs are just a social commentary on things I’m seeing and a lot of the time things that make me angry!”

Raised in south London, she’s from “a very socialist, left-wing family” and brought up to believe that social injustice is unacceptable.

“We have to look at history as well as the present to learn from people’s experiences and mistakes,” she says.

“The International Brigades are an amazing example of people not just caring about their own but wanting to help their fellow man. It’s something we could all learn from.”

Carty’s musical influences range through pop and soul to reggae and ska — she provided backing vocals to Keety General’s tremendous Take the Stage, one of the anthems of the JC4PM tour, and her house-infused single Got No Love with Sezwez is getting a lot of airplays.

She puts that variety down to her mum’s “very eclectic” taste. “I do seem to be a bit all over the place musically!” she laughs. “Got No Love is pretty different to what you’ve heard from me. Usually, I’m more pop/soul but happened to use a couple of reggae samples on my last album that people seemed to pick up on.

“But I’m a songwriter first and foremost so I can write a song and it can ultimately be produced in any style.

“I’ve always admired the ‘real’ songwriters like Tracy Chapman, Bob Dylan and India Arie. I love lyrics so if I hear something poetic or clever I’m hooked.”

Like many musicians, the election campaign has been a shot in the arm for Carty. “It’s been amazing to see how Jeremy Corbyn and his different type of politics has had such an effect on young people and artists coming forward and actually taking an interest politically. I think that probably for the first time in our generation, we have someone who is actually saying things that we want to hear and that we can believe in.

“I hope we can keep it up and that people continue to support him and fight for change, for the many. We just need to get rid of the Tories!”

On July 8, Carty’s appearing with radical Turkish singer Canan Sagar and spoken word supremo Tim Wells at the latest in what are proving to be hugely popular fundraising gigs for the Morning Star at the Constitution pub in London’s Camden Town — an opportunity, if ever there was one, to celebrate the seismic political events of recent weeks.

“The Morning Star has always supported my music which I really appreciate,” she says, “and I’ve been lucky enough to get to know a few of the staff through gigs and campaigns and clearly we have a lot of the same views.

“The fact that the paper is so widely available and covers so many issues from different perspectives like the arts is great.

“It’s important to have an alternative to the mainstream media who are ridiculously biased the majority of the time. You guys are fighting the good fight.”

Not only staff on this paper — Carty’s doing her bit too.

Maddy Carty plays the Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival on July 16, and Got No Love is available on iTunes, Spotify, Deezer and other download sites. Tickets (£10/£5 concessions) for the Morning Star fundraiser at the Constitution pub, 42 St Pancras Way, London NW1 OQT, are available by phone (020) 8510-0815 or from mstar.link/constitution2.

Artists for Grenfell, charity song


This 21 June 2017 music video from Britain is called Artists for Grenfell – Bridge Over Troubled Water (Official Video).

From the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia, 22 June 2017:

Pop stars including Robbie Williams, Rita Ora and members of One Direction have teamed up for a charity single to raise funds for victims of London’s Grenfell Tower fire.

The single, a cover of Simon and Garfunkel‘s 1970 song Bridge Over Troubled Water, was organised by music and TV producer Simon Cowell, and released on streaming services including iTunes and Spotify overnight.

It topped iTunes charts in the UK just hours after its release and has already reached the top 20 in Australia.

All proceeds from the song will go to the London Community Foundation, to assist those affected by last week’s disaster, which saw a fire sweep through the 24-storey apartment block in London.

79 people have so far been confirmed dead in the tragedy, with hundreds still unaccounted for amid protests at Theresa May’s government’s response to the disaster.

The track, which begins with an emotional verse from grime rapper Stormzy, also features stars including Jessie J, James Blunt, Craig David, Geri Halliwell and Roger Daltry, each taking turns singing lines from the song.

It’s backed by Queen’s Brian May, Chic’s Nile Rodgers and The Who’s Pete Townshend who provide musical accompaniment, as well as a choir of locals from the tower’s North Kensington community, including survivors of the blaze. …

The song has been praised online, particularly Stormzy’s rap, which listeners described as “moving”.

The rapper begins the song telling victims “I refuse to forget you, I refuse to be silenced, I refuse to neglect you”, before reflecting personally on the tragedy.

“That could be my mum’s house, that could be my nephew, that could have been me up there, waving my white plain tee up there… I just hope that you rest and you’re free up there,” he says.

The Eagle Huntress, film review


This video says about itself:

The Eagle Huntress Featurette – Soaring Cinematography (2016) – Documentary

Directed By: Otto Bell

The Eagle Huntress follows Aisholpan, a 13-year-old girl, as she trains to become the first female in twelve generations of her Kazakh family to become an eagle hunter.

On 18 June 2017, I saw this worthwhile film, recorded in the Altai mountains in the west of Mongolia.

There are many reviews of it; very positive ones; but also some with criticisms. I will look at those expressed on this BBC page; then, my own reservations.

The BBC notes that originally, publicity for the film claimed that young Aisholpan was the first female hunting with a golden eagle ever. Not true, as US historian Adrienne Mayor showed. The Eagle Huntress publicity then changed to saying that Aisholpan was the first huntress ever in her family of traditional eagle hunters.

Ms Mayor and others also pointed out that the film emphasized prejudices among older men against women hunting with eagles too much. Probably that is for dramatic effect in this documentary; like the film Pride (made with actors) over-emphasized homophobic prejudices as a problem for solidarity between striking Welsh miners and LGBTQ activists, the theme of the film.

The BBC article concludes:

Despite her criticisms of the film, the historian Adrienne Mayor agrees that Aisholpan is a worthy heroine.

“Her bravery and her feats in that eagle hunting contest are really amazing and inspiring,” she says.

Now, my own issues. Part of the film shows Aisholpan capturing a young eaglet from its nest on a steep cliff, to train it to become her own hunting eagle (earlier, she used to work with her father’s eagle). I don’t think eaglets should be taken from their nests (except sometimes briefly to ring them by licensed ringers putting them back in the nest a few minutes later). However, hunting golden eagles in Kazakh culture have to be freed after seven years, roughly the time of sexual maturity. In the opening scene, Aisholpan’s father takes his bird to a mountain top and says: my eagle, you have done nothing but good things for me. I now give you a last meal of meat. Then, you can fly away wherever you want. This love for the birds contrasts sharply with the commercial abuse of captive birds of prey and owls in the Netherlands, Belgium and elsewhere.

Her father praises Aisholpan for catching especially a female eaglet. Female golden eagles are bigger and better at hunting than males.

Also, the film shows fox hunting with an eagle, to make a fur coat. I oppose fox hunting and fur worn by humans. However, one cannot equate the film scene with fox hunting in, eg, Britain. In the cold Altai mountains, people would be unable to live without fur and meat from eagle hunts. While in Britain, rich people, who can buy as much fake fur as they want, usually don’t even use the fur of butchered foxes. British toff fox hunters block foxes’ underground escape burrows, and have them torn apart cruelly by dogs.

Aisholpan’s parents are religious Muslims. However, contrary to prejudices about Muslims, they believe in equality of men and women, including for their daughter to become an eagle huntress. The girls in the film don’t wear headscarves, let alone chadaris/’burqas’.

In winter, Aisholpan’s nomadic family lives in a house. In summer, in a yurt. Besides this tent with a history of thousands of years is a twenty-first century solar panel.

After training her young eagle, called White Feathers (name not mentioned in the film), Aisholpan decides to participate in the annual eagle festival, near the provincial capital Olgii.

The film scenes recorded at the festival don’t show the seventy golden eagles participating killing any prey. A four man jury gives points to participants for interaction between human and bird, and reaction speed of the eagle. Aisholpan’s eagle breaks the speed record, making her hunter the winner.

That makes Aisholpan not only the first female victor, but also the youngest one ever. Her eagle, not yet one year old then, was probably also one of the youngest winners ever. After winning, Aisholpan holds White Feathers high above her, indicating that the bird is the real winner.

Carefully, Aisholpan polishes the cup she got for winning at the festival.

Then, in winter, she goes far into the mountains with her father. It is very cold; there are icicles on their horses’ mouths. The horses sink deep into treacherous snow and slip on ice.

Finally, White Feathers catches her first fox for Aisholpan’s fur coat.

Morgan Spurlock, known from a critical documentary on McDonald’s, is involved as producer of this film.

Young Syrian refugee gets special violin


Aboud Kaplo plays violin in Lebanon, photo by Amr Kokash

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Oxford lends historic violin to Syrian musician

Tuesday 20th June 2017

OXFORD University has sent a 19th-century violin to a young Syrian refugee living in Lebanon.

The German-made violin was part of a collection of historic instruments held by the university which has lent it to 14-year-old Aboud Kaplo.

Mr Kaplo and his family were forced to flee their home city of Aleppo amid the Syrian civil war.

Film-maker Susie Attwood noticed Mr Kaplo’s passion for music while she was making a film about Syrian Christians in Lebanon.

However she noticed that the talented teen did not have an instrument.

Bate Collection of Musical Instruments curator Andy Lamb said that “the moment I read about this lad’s situation I thought the collection could make some kind of positive contribution.”

See also here. And here.

Jeremy Corbyn to English Glastonbury music festival


This 15 June 2017 video from London, England is called Jeremy Corbyn Visits Grenfell Tower Emergency Centre; Meets Brave Surviving Residents.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Corbo to rock stage at Glasto

Saturday 17th June 2017

JEREMY CORBYN will appear on the main Pyramid stage at Glastonbury festival next week.

The Labour leader will address revellers attending Britain’s biggest music festival on Saturday afternoon.

He was forced to cancel a planned appearance at the festival’s Left Field tent last year following the Brexit vote and the Blairite MPs’ “chicken coup” attempt to oust him as party leader.

Mr Corbyn will introduce US rap duo Run The Jewels, who voiced huge support for Democratic senator Bernie Sanders during his bid to win the party’s presidential nomination.

Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis will appear on stage with Mr Corbyn and described the Labour leader as “the hero of the hour.”

Mr Eavis also praised Corbyn’s anti-austerity stance and his views on nuclear disarmament.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell is also scheduled to appear at the festival in Somerset as well as Labour MP Clive Lewis.