African Irish photographer’s exhibition

This video from England says about itself:

A Short Film on the London Irish Centre

Shot in Camden, north London, on 6th of February 2008.

Filmed & Edited by Eoin O’Donnell.

By Angela Cobbinah in London, England:

Black, Irish and proud

Saturday 22nd October 2016

LORRAINE MAHER tells Angela Cobbinah what inspired her to mount the ground-breaking #iamirish photography exhibition at the Irish Centre in London

WHEN she was growing up in County Tipperary in the 1960s, Lorraine Maher met no other black people and on the few occasions they came into her midst she would avoid them.

“I didn’t want to draw attention to myself in any way,” she says.

“I grew up in a beautiful town full of beautiful people but there was racism all around me. This was the age of the golliwog and the ‘black baby box’ to collect money for starving African babies.

“I knew I was different but my blackness was never spoken about and I spent my childhood just wanting to hide away and not be noticed.”

It did not help that her mother had handed her over to her grandmother to be brought up while she lived nearby with her new family.

“In those days it would have been very hard for my mother to have not only had an illegitimate child but a black one too,” Lorraine acknowledges.

“However, I had a very difficult upbringing and I am living with the effects of that.”

There were children like herself scattered all over Ireland, many fathered by African doctors who were based there in the 1950s and ’60s as a result of bilateral work and study programmes. The unluckiest ended up in the dreaded “industrial schools”, children’s homes run by the Catholic Church where abuse was said to be widespread.

Not surprisingly, Lorraine left Ireland as soon as she could, heading for the bright lights of London aged 17. It proved to be a liberation. “I arrived at a place where I met people of all colours and where no-one questioned my identity,” she says.

“At last I felt I belonged. I dropped my Irish accent and I started seeing myself as a black woman.”

But as time went on, she realised she was still very much Irish. “It is the culture I was brought up in and it is important to me. These days I say I am black, I am Irish and I am proud.”

It is this often painful journey to self-realisation that laid the seeds of the #iamirish exhibition she has curated for the London Irish Centre, tellingly its first ever contribution to Black History Month. Opened last week by Ruaidri Dowling on behalf of the Irish embassy, it is a display of stunning portraits by photographer Tracey Anderson that aims to question the concept of what it looks like to be Irish.

“It is a celebration of Ireland’s diversity,” explains Lorraine, who works as an education manager at the Clean Break Theatre Company and has four children.

“The photos are accompanied by family crests, linked to Irish surnames, to dispel the idea that if you are from a non-white community you are automatically an immigrant. I myself can trace my ancestry back thousands of years.”

The Ireland of today is very different to the one she grew up in, she agrees. The economic boom of the 1980s and ’90s brought in migrants from all over the world transforming the country’s monocultural view of itself and when Muhammad Ali visited Ennis in County Clare in 2009 where his great great-grandfather hailed from he was given a huge welcome.

But according to Lorraine: “Ireland may look very different but it is not as blended as it looks.”

The contradictions were brought home to her by two events earlier this year, which spurred her into organising the exhibition.

The first was the mayor of Ennis’s announcement that he was going to attend Ali’s funeral and the second was news the following day that two African students had been refused entry into a Dublin bar.

“I felt I really had to do something to bring the two communities together.”

The exhibition consists of images of people aged from one to 70-plus but all are anonymous. Despite that, it is full of warmth and optimism.

Bar a few Facebook trolls, the response has been extremely positive, says Lorraine, touching as it does the hitherto hidden lives of children like herself and the generations who have followed.

#iamirish runs at London Irish Centre, Camden Square, London NW1 until October 31. There will be an accompanying workshop and a panel discussion during the month. Details:

Cave art explains European bison evolution

Various bisons in cave art, from various caves

The caption of this picture says:

(a) Reproduction from Lascaux cave (France), from the Solutrean or early Magdalenian period (∼20,000 kya—picture adapted from ref. 53). (b) Reproduction from the Pergouset cave (France), from the Magdalenian period (17,000 kya—picture adapted from ref. 54)

From Nature Communications, 18 October 2016:

Early cave art and ancient DNA record the origin of European bison

Julien Soubrier, Graham Gower, Alan Cooper


The two living species of bison (European and American) are among the few terrestrial megafauna to have survived the late Pleistocene extinctions. Despite the extensive bovid fossil record in Eurasia, the evolutionary history of the European bison (or wisent, Bison bonasus) before the Holocene (<11.7 thousand years ago (kya)) remains a mystery.

We use complete ancient mitochondrial genomes and genome-wide nuclear DNA surveys to reveal that the wisent is the product of hybridization between the extinct steppe bison (Bison priscus) and ancestors of modern cattle (aurochs, Bos primigenius) before 120 kya, and contains up to 10% aurochs genomic ancestry. Although undetected within the fossil record, ancestors of the wisent have alternated ecological dominance with steppe bison in association with major environmental shifts since at least 55 kya. Early cave artists recorded distinct morphological forms consistent with these replacement events, around the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM, ∼21–18 kya).

See also here.

Picasso, doves and peace

This music video from Britain says about itself:

The making of “Dove of Peace: Homage to Picasso”

In May 2010 Ensemble 10/10 performed the world premiere of the new Clarinet concerto, “Dove of Peace: Homage to Picasso” by the acclaimed Spanish composer Benet Casablancas. Watch this short documentary about the work’s relevance and background, and links to Picasso: Peace and Freedom at Tate Liverpool (21 May to 31 August 2010). This video include interviews with the key representatives involved with the commission, including Benet Casablancas, Andrew Cornall, Artistic Director of Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Christoph Grunenberg, Director of Tate Liverpool.

You can watch the entire performance by RLPO Principal Clarinet, Nicholas Cox, with Ensemble 10/10,in two parts here.

From BirdLife:

Flight of Fancy – Picasso and the dove called Peace

By John Fanshawe, 14 Oct 2016

When the author, Louis Aragon, chose Pablo Picasso’s lithograph, La Colombe (The Dove), for a poster commemorating the Paris Peace Conference in 1949, he was building on the artist’s complex relationship with both doves and peace. Picasso’s father, José Ruiz y Blasco, was an artist in Malaga, and specialised in paintings of doves and pigeons.

The birds had featured in Picasso’s work since childhood when he often took his pet pigeons to school and drew them. An early Parisian work, Child Holding a Dove, 1901, was painted when the artist was just 19. For many people, however, it is Picasso’s deceptively simple line drawings of doves that are the most memorable and symbolic celebrations of peace, and their genesis lies in an infamous act of war. On 26 April 1937, Picasso had been living in Paris for almost 40 years. Late that afternoon, German and Italian aircraft attacked the Basque town of Guernica – a frontline of republican resistance to Spanish dictator Franco. Crowded both for market day, and with throngs of refugees from the civil war, the aerial bombing devastated the town, and killed a large number of non-combatants.

A year before, Picasso had been commissioned by Spain to create a work for the country’s pavilion at the Paris International Exposition. As reports of the outrage circulated, notably from George Steer, the Times reporter, the bombing caused an international uproar. Within a fortnight, Picasso began a painting that has become an iconic symbol of war protest. Until then, though his work invariably provoked powerful reactions, it had not been outwardly political. With its scale, Guernica is a devastating black, grey and white work full of fractured ruin, fire, and figures, both people, and the totemic domestic symbols for Spain, the bull and horse.

Picasso remained in Paris throughout the Nazi occupation, and though Guernica was safely in the US, it was the painting that crystalised his involvement in the post-war peace movement. In the spring of 1949, his then-wife, Françoise Gilot, gave birth to their second child, and they called her Paloma, Spanish for dove, perhaps responding to the numerous peace posters bearing Picasso’s first ‘peace dove’. The bird itself had been a gift from his friend, Henri Matisse, who is shown in a photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson clasping one of his own birds. From that first figurative lithograph, a wealth of line drawings grew of doves, often carrying sprigs of leaves, or surrounded with flowers, or alongside faces, often mantling them with their wings. In 1950, Picasso visited the Peace Congress in Sheffield, UK. Asked to speak there, he recalled how his father had taught him to paint doves, and finished with the words, ‘I stand for life against death; I stand for peace against war’. Even now, the World Peace Council has a Picasso dove as its emblem, a legacy built from childhood, from war, from friendship, and the simple gift of a bird from one great artist to another.

Van Gogh paintings, stolen by mafia, found again

Sea at Scheveningen by Vincent van Gogh

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Police find stolen Van Gogh paintings in Mafia house in Italy

Today, 09:55

After fourteen years, two stolen Van Gogh paintings have been found in Italy. They were found in fairly good condition during a police investigation near Naples. According to Italian media they were in the hands of the Mafia.

They are the works Sea at Scheveningen made in 1882, and Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen from 1884/1885. They are estimated to be worth millions of euros.

The Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports that the paintings were found in a house in Castel Marie di Stabia, near Pompeii. There they were said to be in the hands of the big shots of the Neapolitan Mafia.


The paintings were stolen in 2002 from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. The thieves climbed early in the morning with a ladder to the first floor of the museum. There they struck a window with a sledgehammer, and climbed through inside.

Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen, by Vincent van Gogh

Now, let us hope that all of the ancient Dutch art, stolen by Ukrainian criminals with links to the Ukrainian political establishment, like the Italian mafia has to its political establishment, will return as well.

Dutch seventeenth-century art about Brazilian animals

Giant anteater by Frans Post

This drawing, by Dutch painter Frans Post (1612-1680), depicts a giant anteater.

In 1637-1644, Post was in northeast Brazil, then part of the Dutch colonial empire. He painted local landscapes. And he also made 34 drawings of Brazilian animals; these drawings were only recently found again.

From 7 October 2016 till 8 January 2017, there will be in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam in the Netherlands an exhibition showing these drawings, paintings and stuffed animals of the depicted species from the collection of Naturalis museum in Leiden.

Some of the animal species depicted by Post can also be seen alive in Artis zoo in Amsterdam. On 7 October, a drawing contest will start of depictions of these animals by zoo visitors.

This video from the USA says about itself:

Friday, March 4, 2016, 1:30 pm

The Dutch painter Frans Post was the first European-trained artist to paint landscapes in the New World. His depictions of the Dutch colony in northeast Brazil provided Europeans some of the earliest glimpses of South America. After a seven-year stay in Brazil, Post returned to the Netherlands to create for the Dutch art market numerous landscape paintings of this remote and exotic place. James Welu, Director Emeritus of the Worcester Art Museum, in Massachusetts, explores the wealth of information these paintings offer, both about the land that inspired them and the people who acquired them.