This video from London, England says about itself:
Lucy Chiswell – Charles I: King and Collector, exhibition at Royal Academy, by WinkBall
29 January 2018
Royal Academy of Arts in London celebrates its 250th birthday in 2018 with landmark exhibition, showcasing art collection assembled by the Stuart King Charles I, on display for the first time since the 17th century. Runs until April 15.
By Breeze Barrington in London, England:
Monday, March 12, 2018
How Charles I lost his head over his lust for the world’s greatest art collection
There’s another story to be told about the monarch’s collection of masterpieces currently on show at the Royal Academy, says BREEZE BARRINGTON
GREAT leaders like to demonstrate their power. These days it tends to be shows of military might and grand parades of state-of-the-art weaponry.
But Renaissance monarchs and nobles amassed huge collections of art, the better to show off their cultural sophistication. Charles I was no exception and the current exhibition at the Royal Academy indicates the extent of his obsession with collecting the finest art and artists, one which was ultimately to cost him his head.
Walk through Charles I: King and Collector, which represents only a small fraction of the Stuart king’s entire collection, and you can see how art functioned as a political display of power and magnificence.
But behind the austere painted faces of the king and court, there is another story to be told. Reuniting works for the first time in 350 years, it captures a singular moment in British history, as an unscrupulous king created arguably the most impressive art collection in the world while ostracising his parliament and people and catapulting himself on to the scaffold.
When James I succeeded Elizabeth I to the throne in 1603, it quickly became apparent that here was a more “continental” monarch. He was descended from the Bourbons through his mother, his court spoke in French, he was determined to create a unity between his three kingdoms of Scotland, England and Ireland and to marry his children into powerful courts of Europe.
Under his rule, England was “open for business” and could now reap the rewards of the freedom of movement artists had enjoyed on the continent for generations. Over the next 40 years, the English would greet the likes of Van Dyck, Orazio, Artemesia Gentileschi and Rubens.
Art, more than merely decorative, functioned as a symbol of power and wealth, displayed at particular diplomatic events to put across messages of majesty and status. Art and diplomacy were completely inseparable at this point and James’s son Prince Charles was determined to present himself at the forefront of European power. He turned to art to project this image of majesty.
The story of Charles as collector starts with an imprudent trip to the rigid court of Spain. To Charles, he and his companion — the king’s favourite, The Duke of Buckingham — were chivalrous knights on a voyage to woo and wed a European princess.
To Buckingham, they were art collectors ready to reap the spoils of a court already housing an array of masterpieces. They took with them Buckingham’s art agent and a handful of courtiers well versed in collecting and Spanish etiquette.
The trip was costly both diplomatically and financially, but they came back with a great haul of art, gifted, bought and possibly even stolen, in the case of a sculpture of Samson Slaying a Philistine.
Charles had caught the collecting bug with an acute love of Titian.
When they arrived at the Spanish court, they witnessed an unimaginable kind of majesty. The Habsburgs owned some of the most splendid art in the world — the walls were covered with works by Titian, Bosch, Correggio, Velazquez — and sumptuous tapestries woven with gold and silver thread. No-one in England had ever seen anything like this before and the experience had a profound effect on the group.
To the Spanish, his sudden arrival could only mean one thing — he may be willing to become a Catholic. In an attempt to show Charles all that Catholicism had to offer, he was given pride of place at the great festival of Corpus Christi. It was a feast for the eyes. The streets were lined with great tapestries and he saw how Philip IV was revered by his people, almost as a deity. Though he had no thoughts of conversion, Charles saw the tempting reality of a king treated almost as a god, with an art collection to rival any other in existence.
We can see from paintings of the prince upon his return that he took on Spanish fashion and a new kind of majesty was implemented.
As well as falling in love with art and ceremony, Charles was immediately besotted with his potential bride and accounts describe his constant impatience to see her — on one occasion even breaking into her garden only to be met with shrieks of terror from the virtuous princess. This is clearly not the way a prince was expected to behave and, if a union had ever been possible, his ideas of diplomacy drew an end to it.
As possibilities for a marriage dwindled into oblivion, the Stuart courtiers scavenged what they could get their hands on and the trip turned into little more than an art collectors’ holiday.
This visit was financially ruinous. James wrote to his son begging him to come home, telling him that the royal purse was empty. Vast sums of money were spent on elaborate clothing, jewels and art, as well as an elephant and camels.
When they returned home, Charles and Buckingham were determined on war with Spain and the latter took an invading fleet to Cadiz in 1625. It was another complete fiasco and the cost was immeasurable, both in terms of money and loss of lives, without making a dent in the Spanish army.
The trip to Spain was a definitive moment for Charles — a diplomatic and financial disaster and the first of many ill-judged moves that would come to characterise his reign. He returned to England determined to be the most prominent king in Europe, a great collector, almost divine and, above all, indisputably powerful.
He would continue to spend vast amounts of money on art, clothes and court entertainments. He would ostracise an already distant parliament and, within four years of becoming king, engage in an 11-year personal rule under which he would impose unpopular and barely legal taxes on his people.
His immovability on matters of state and religion would embroil his three kingdoms in a civil war that would last a decade and he would maintain his divine right to rule until parliament had no choice but to condemn him for treason.
On January 30 1649, Charles was walked from St James Palace to the Banqueting House in Whitehall where, sat under the extraordinary ceiling painting by Rubens depicting his father in divine glory, he would settle his affairs before being led onto a purpose-built scaffold and beheaded.
Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector and under him the crown jewels were melted down and the gems sold, along with the majority of this enormous art collection, a necessary move to recoup some of the money lost under decades of decadent monarchs.
What we see in the exhibition is around 7 per cent of the original collection and, walking through, it is easy to see how the king lost his head.
This is an edited version of an article by Breeze Barrington, PhD Candidate in Early Modern Tapestry, Queen Mary University of London, which first appeared in The Conversation, theconversation.com. Charles I: King and Collector runs at the Royal Academy in London until April 15, details: royalacademy.org.uk.
This video is about a bittern male singing.
By Peter Frost in Britain:
Friday 8th December 2017
PETER FROST reports some excellent news from the Broads national park
SINCE 2010 Britain’s family of national parks have experienced cut upon cut in funding from a Tory government that made the hollow pledge to be “the greenest government ever”.
Now Michael Gove has been given the post of environment secretary it is unlikely that we will see any better treatment of these bastions of excellent environmental practice in our green and pleasant land.
We know he would be happy to sell off our state-owned woodland. He voted in 2011 in favour of selling off all 635,000 acres of public woodlands and forest preserved by the Forestry Commission.
Two years later, he voted against setting a target range for the amount of greenhouse gases produced per generated unit of electricity.
He supports fracking, having voted in 2015 against requiring an environmental permit for hydraulic fracking activities. He also voted against a review of the impact of fracking on climate change and the environment.
All this bad news from Defra and its Minister Gove hasn’t stopped our wonderful national parks doing what they can from a fast-reducing funding purse.
One really good bit of news is that in the Broads national park it has been a record year for two iconic wetland species.
The first is the bittern (Botaurus stellaris), Britain’s rarest and shyest heron which was hunted almost to extinction by Victorian taxidermists, so-called sportsmen and gourmands. Not for nothing was the shy but delicious bird known as the buttery bittern.
Bittern numbers are increasing dramatically now and nowhere more so than on the broads, rivers and reed beds of Norfolk and Suffolk.
This video shows a swallowtail butterfly, from egg to adult.
A significant increase was noted in recorded numbers of the iconic swallowtail butterfly (Papilio machaon, pictured right) in 2017 — this rare and Broads-specific species has seen its highest population levels since 2011.
The swallowtail species is dependent on milk parsley. This is the plant upon which they lay their eggs and eat as their sole food source when caterpillars. The Broads national park is a sanctuary for milk parsley, a tall umbrella shaped plant that loves wetlands supplied with chalky water. It depends on open fen as well as the correct water level and management to prevent scrub growth.
The successes of bitterns and butterflies and a number of other threatened wetland species are the result of efforts by the Broads Authority working with biodiversity partners like the RSPB and local landowners.
Together they have successfully increased the area of restored open fen to a figure last seen as long ago as 1946.
Weather conditions too have played a crucial role in the case of the swallowtail. The growth of the milk parsley, the flight pattern of the swallowtails and the swallowtail pupae lying attached to the base of reed stems can all be affected by wet and dull weather conditions.
The good weather of 2016 and 2017 has given the butterflies an opportunity to thrive without the threat of harsh conditions.
They used to appear in late May and June, but, in recent years, a sizable second brood in late summer has given them a added chance at increasing their numbers.
National Park senior ecologist Andrea Kelly told us: “This summer provided good weather conditions for flying butterflies and some days you could see literally hundreds of these big yellow and black butterflies zooming over the rich fen vegetation finding mates and searching for a drink of nectar.
“With the continuation of vital fen management and landowners creating favourable wetland habitats across the marshes, rich in milk parsley, the Broads Authority hopes to ensure that the swallowtail butterfly population will be resilient to a changing climate.”
So it seems we have good news despite, not because of, Gove’s work as environment minister.
Peter Frost served on the Broads Authority for a decade before his retirement some years ago.
From daily News Line in Britain:
Thursday, 26 October 2017
‘PLAYING WITH CHILDREN’S LIVES’ – 700 school fires in England annually
There are about 700 school fires in England annually. London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton said yesterday that she was ‘appalled’ when she discovered that the DfE (Department for Education) in England launched a ‘consultation’ last year with new draft guidance saying building regulations no longer require ‘the installation of fire sprinkler suppression systems in school buildings for life safety’.
‘Therefore,’ the guidance continued, ‘(guidelines) no longer include an expectation that most new school buildings will be fitted with them. I think it was outrageous,’ said Dany Cotton. ‘I thought, “How can we play with children’s lives like that?”
‘I just do not understand why it wouldn’t be made compulsory and wouldn’t be made a requirement to fit sprinklers in schools at new-build stage. And what I don’t want to see is a very large school fire to be the thing that brings about that change.’
The consultation was quietly dropped after the Grenfell inferno, so the guidance was never changed. So it continues to state that it is the DfE’s ‘expectation that all new schools will have sprinklers fitted’, unless a school is ‘low risk’ and installation ‘would not be good value for money’.
Despite this, less than a third of the 260 schools built since 2014 under the Schools Building Programme have sprinklers. Dany Cotton said the London Fire Brigade recommended sprinklers in 184 new or refurbished schools last year. However, the advice was taken in only four of these cases.
The National Fire Chiefs Council said the proportion of new schools built with sprinklers has dropped from 70% a decade ago to a third last year – and overall, in England and Wales, just 5% of schools have sprinklers.
The Local Government Association said it ‘fully supports installation of sprinklers in new school buildings as a cost-effective measure which can help save lives, protect property and improve firefighter safety’.
An October 16 auction of works donated by 31 artists raised nearly £2 million [US$2.6 million] for survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire. All works donated to Sotheby’s Art for Grenfell auction sold, in the process almost doubling the organisers’ predicted total: here.
By Steve Sweeney in Britain:
Monday 11th September 2017
Bristol People’s Assembly organised the protest, which was billed as the city’s “biggest ever protest.”
It drew support from across the community, along with campaigning organisations including Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and local NHS activists demonstrating against a merger of local clinical commissioning groups that they warn will lead to services being cut.
Around 10,000 people marched against “Tory austerity” and organisers said it was the first demonstration by a local authority challenging the government over cuts to its budget.
Mr Rees, who led the march, has been criticised for implementing cost-saving measures as Bristol faces budget cuts of £106 million over the next few years.
But he said Prime Minister Theresa May and “Tory austerity” were to blame for slashing central government funding of local authorities by 26 per cent since 2010.
The mayor told the crowds: “When we look at what that means in Bristol, it means that not only impacting on frontline services, which we all know about and see every day, but it also means an impact on what I would call on backroom ability.”
Mr Rees added: “Austerity is disinvestment in a place, disinvestment in British cities. We need investment, because it is cities which have the answer to many of the problems we face now.”
People’s Assembly national officer John Rees told the demonstrators that the Tories have the money to reverse the cuts, recalling that to keep themselves in power, they had found £1 billion for the “knuckle draggers of the DUP.”
“That money could solve the financial crisis in this city, in another city, in a third and a fourth city in this country,” he said.
A major national demonstration will take place at the Tory Party conference in Manchester on October 1.