Winnie-the-Pooh’s skull on show in London

Winnie-the-Pooh’s skull

From the Royal College of Surgeons in London, England:

Real Winnie-the-Pooh’s skull displayed at the Royal College of Surgeons

20 November 2015

Winnie-the-Pooh fans will have an opportunity to see the skull of the bear that inspired the much-loved character in A.A. Milne’s stories, at the Royal College of Surgeons’ Hunterian Museum.

Milne, who wrote one of the most popular collections of children’s stories: Winnie-the-Pooh and later The House at Pooh Corner, was a regular visitor to London Zoo. His son, Christopher, named his teddy bear Winnie after a Canadian black bear who lived in the zoo. Named Winnipeg, and Winnie for short, she was the inspiration for Winnie-the-Pooh.

This video from London days about itself:

The bear who inspired Winnie-the-Pooh

18 January 2014

Ever wondered how Winnie-the-Pooh got his name? This is the story of Winnie the bear, who arrived at ZSL London Zoo a hundred years ago and who inspired AA Milne‘s iconic honey-loving character.

The RCS article continues:

Visitors to the Royal College of Surgeons’ Hunterian Museum in London will be able to see Winnie’s skull and learn more about her.

Sam Alberti, Director of Museums and Archives at the Royal College of Surgeons, said:

“Winnie-the-Pooh remains one of the most popular children’s stories ever since Pooh Bear was brought to life on the pages of A.A Milne’s book in 1926.

“Children and adults who visit the Hunterian Museum will now have an opportunity to learn about the real Winnie and how she inspired A.A. Milne.

“Her story and presence in our collection are a reminder of how learning about animal health can enhance our understanding and care for species around the world.”

Soldier and trained vet, Captain Harry Colebourn bought Winnie when she was a bear cub, and he was en route to fight in the First World War. He had enlisted to look after the cavalry units and named her Winnipeg after his home city in Manitoba, Canada.

Cpt Colebourn’s regiment travelled to Europe at the beginning of the war and he brought Winnie as their mascot while they trained on the Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire. When the regiment was deployed to fight in France in 1914, he left Winnie at London Zoo.

Winnie lived through the war and was visited by A.A. Milne and his son Christopher. Photographs from this time show that Christopher was allowed in Winnie’s enclosure at the zoo. After the war, Cpt Colebourn donated Winnie to London Zoo, where she remained a popular attraction until she died of old age in May 1934.

During a recent review of the RCS’s collections, curators identified Winnie’s skull and the story of this treasured bear. Documents show that when Winnie died at the zoo, her skull was donated to Sir James Frank Colyer (1866-1954) the then curator of the Odontological Museum, which was part of the RCS collections. A dental surgeon, he was the first to report on dental variations and diseases in bears. He analysed a number of animal skulls from the Zoological Society of London to compile his comprehensive book on dental disease in animals (Colyer 1936. Variations and diseases of the teeth of animals).

At the time, Colyer noted in Winnie’s skull the loss of teeth, thickening of the alveolar process and sockets filled with bone. He associated this with Winnie’s extremely old age and her food habits. Recent examination of the skull shows that Winnie suffered from chronic periodontitis (an inflammation and/or loss of connective tissues supporting or surrounding the teeth). Colyer’s book, and the skulls featured in it (including Winnie’s), have now become valuable research specimens for biologists and zoo vets who need to treat captive animals for dental diseases.

See also here.

Londoner stops post-Paris murders racist attack

This video from Britain says about itself:

18 November 2015

Commuter’s moving account of how he defended a young Muslim woman from a thug who was abusing her as a ‘terrorist’ on the London Underground goes viral.

From the Evening Standard in London, England:

Man intervenes to stop racist attack on woman on Tube ‘provoked by Paris attacks’


Tuesday 17 November 2015

A man has told how he stepped in to help a young woman in a hijab who was verbally abused by a racist on board a Tube train in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks.

In a Facebook post that has been liked more than 32,000 times, Ashley Powys said he boarded the Victoria line train at Oxford Circus at 8pm on Monday and sat opposite the woman.

He told the Standard things turned ugly when a man, who was in his 30s, got on the train and began hurling racist abuse at the girl.

He said: “He got on after me at Oxford Circus, there’s one person that just avoids the doors closing, and unfortunately that was him.”

In his viral Facebook post he described the man’s verbal assault on the young girl, who Mr Powys said “can’t have been older than 18”.

He wrote: “[He] stood at the connecting door of the tube and began to stare at this girl. After she looked at him and looked away, he went nearer to her and said, ‘f****g p**i’ [Paki], quite loudly.

“He then got closer to her, and was reeling off abuse calling her things like ‘r*gh**d’, ‘terrorist‘, ‘scum’, and saying that ‘her people’ murdered the victims of the Paris attacks this weekend.”

The 22-year-old said he then stepped in to intervene, prompting the man to turn on him instead.

He told the Standard: “When that first little thing came from his mouth I was putting my headphones in and luckily heard it before they went in.

“He was reeling off all these terms, your adrenalin kicks in, I thought ‘I’m not having that’.

“I’m 6’1″, I’m strong, at the end of the day, I’d rather him turn on me because I can take it, than an innocent girl.”

In his post on Facebook, he said he challenged the man: “Without thinking, I automatically stood up and had to physically push him away from her, as he was aggressively close and was clearly terrifying her.

“He then luckily turned his attention onto me, calling me a “terrorist sympathiser”, among other things. I sat down next to this girl, who at this point had tears in her eyes, and I asked her what her name was. She told me it was Yara.

“The man continued to shout abuse at her while I distracted her asking about her day, and other smalltalk topics, all the while making sure I was a barrier between her and this guy, so he didn’t have direct access to harm her.”

Mr Powys, who lives in Stockwell, said he was so concerned by the abuse the girl had faced that [he] stayed on the tube with her to Brixton to escort her safely to her friends.

He wrote: “We got to my stop and I asked her if she’d like me to stay on until her stop. When I asked, tears started running down her face because of what she called ‘my tremendous kindness and bravery’.

“I don’t think that’s true. I just saw someone in need, and it was my human nature to do what I could.

Supportive messages

Ashley has received supportive messages from around the world.

“At her stop, I escorted her off the train and up the escalator to where her friends were meeting her.

“I asked her if she receives that sort of abuse often, and to my shock she said she does. I gave her a hug goodbye, and told her in confidence that there are many more people like me, and she should never have to feel afraid in her own country.

“And this *is* her country, and her city.”

Mr Powys, who works at the Apple Store in Regent Street, said he was shocked that nobody else on the train had stood up for the young girl.

He told the Standard: “It was the Victoria line, it was Oxford Circus, the amount of people on that train, it’s upsetting.

“I’m just glad I could do something. It’s not like I’m a big hero though, because I’m not.

“I hope that Yara does see the Facebook post, or that people like her see it. It’s nice for them to know there are thousands and thousands of people out there who are actually on their side.

“You’d expect it more in smaller communities, sheltered communities, because you don’t get exposed to different cultures.

“I work with people from every single corner of the globe, and I didn’t think that still happened, especially in London.”

More supportive messages

In the Facebook post, he wrote: “What shocked me most about my journey is that not one other person on that crowded train stood up for Yara. They sat in silence and allowed that abuse to happen. That’s the problem with our society. Silence is our biggest weakness. We need to start speaking up and defending each other.

“I love living in London because of the diversity of character and culture. Every day in my job I learn something new about people.

“But when we twist that diversity as a “threat” or an “invasion” we’re embarrassing ourselves and diminishing and insulting the cultures of others.

“People like Yara don’t deserve abuse for the clothes they wear, the colour of their skin, or the faith they follow. Personally, in the stage of history we’re living in, I think it’s incredible for people like her to showcase their beliefs, despite the onslaught.

Still more supportive messages

“Yara is much braver that I am. And she, and people like her, inspire me to stand up for what *I* believe in. And that’s an equal, kind, and understanding society despite religious and cultural differences. After all, we’re strongest when we’re united.”

Mr Powys, who orginially comes from north Wales, but has lived in London for three years, said he only ever expected his post to be seen by his friends, and had never imagined it would reach so many people.

Since sharing the post on Monday night he said he has been innundated with supportive messages from people from all sections of the community.

He told the Standard that he had been contacted by a girl who said that his message had given her the confidence to go out wearing her hijab for the first time in six months.

He said: “It’s Yara’s story that I shared, the story of so many young muslim women, and even young muslim men.

“I’ve helped some people to be proud of their religion, and heritage, and that’s amazing, it’s really made my day.

“Especially because of all the media coverage of the Paris attacks a lot of people are scared, it’s a sad state of affairs, but I’m glad a lot of people aren’t thinking that way.”

He told the Standard that the message he wanted people to take away from his post was the same as he wrote on Facebook: “I want us to send a message to Islamic State [ISIS], and any other group who inspire fear and hatred.

“I want us to send the message that what they destroy, we’ll rebuild together. What lives they take, we’ll remember together. And what people they target, we’ll protect together.

“Our best resource is each other. And we should be able to rely on that. Please take care of each other. Both friends and strangers. You never know when you might need someone to do the same in return.”

Bare-chested thug ‘punches woman and teenage girl during racist attack on London bus’: here.

Woman admits racist rant on bus which saw her brand Muslim women ‘ISIS b******’ [bitches] in north west London: here.

African diaspora artists exhibited in London, England

This video says about itself:

In the Sky’s Wild Noise: A documentary on Dr. Walter Rodney

17 December 2014

A short documentary based on an interview by Dr Walter Rodney on politics and society in Guyana in the 1970s.

By Christine Lindey in Britain:

Revelatory view of black artistry

Saturday 14th November 2015

CHRISTINE LINDEY recommends a challenging retrospective at the Guildhall Art Gallery in London

AMONG the immigrants to Britain from the Caribbean in the 1950s were Guyanese political activists Jessica and Eric Huntley and this fascinating exhibition at the Guildhall art gallery honours and explains their instrumental contribution to the African diaspora’s politics and culture in Britain from the late 1960s on.

No Colour Bar brings alive the experiences and issues faced by their community through a rich and diverse display of their archival material, along with the literature and art which they championed, among them artists’ groups such as the Caribbean Artists Movement and Black British Arts.

To counteract the paucity of public support for African and Caribbean culture, the Huntleys founded BogleL’Ouverture Publishing.

Named after the Jamaican and Haitian revolutionary leaders, from 1969 it published seminal texts, poetry, novels, posters and greeting cards asserting the African diaspora’s cultural identity and fostering resistance to the sociopolitical injustices which it faced.

That same year they opened their west London front room as a bookshop and meeting place to encourage interaction between the community and its cultural workers. The bookshop moved to commercial premises in 1975 but consciously retained its informal, homely ambiance, generating a vibrant forum for creative and political cross-fertilisations and activities such as poetry readings by Linton Kwesi Johnson and Valerie Bloom.

It was renamed in 1980 to commemorate Dr Walter Rodney, the Guyanese thinker-activist assassinated for anti-colonial resistance at the age of 38.

An interactive multimedia installation by the Afro-Caribbean scholar-artist Michael McMillan recreates the bookshop’s ambiance and provides multisensory information about the ideas, preoccupations and historical events which conditioned black British life in the 1970s and 1980s.

Imaginative touch screens, digital photo frames, books and sounds introduce a plethora of themes such as readings by activists and poets or the story of the 1970s racist and fascist attacks on the shop and other progressive outlets, which led to their joint resistance through the Bookshop Joint Action Group.

McMillan’s installation is surrounded by a comprehensive exhibition of paintings by artists, some of whom like Tam Joseph arrived in Britain as children only to be stigmatised and undervalued for their colour.

Joseph’s 1983 painting UK School Report is an uncompromising accusation of racial stereotyping suffered by black boys in British schools.

Three portrait heads of the same young man challenge our gaze. Unsmiling as in ID photographs, they increasingly fill three identically sized, rectangular frames which are underwritten with comments in different handwritings, as in school reports.

In the first, Good at Sports, the boy wears a neat uniform and European-style short hair with a parting. In the second, Likes Music, he sports Afro hair and more informal clothes.

But in the last, Needs Surveillance, he sports long dreadlocks and his head totally fills its frame as if resisting the constraints of typecasting, while its title refers both to school discipline and police harassment.

The faces painted in red, white and blue assert the boy’s Britishness yet this identity is undermined by his society’s racial prejudice.

Sonia Boyce’s She Ain’t Holding Them Up, She’s Holding On depicts a lone young woman somehow managing to physically support two adults and two children from her raised hands but whose expression mingles resolute defiance with hurt and vulnerability. This is a powerful, feminist statement about Afro-Caribbean women risking losing touch with their sense of self as they shoulder the demands of others.

Keith Piper, founder member of the 1980s BLK Art Group, explores colonialism’s dark legacy in paintings such as (You are now entering) Mau Mau Country.

Martyred but defiant Kenyan warriors — one with his lips stitched together with thread — are furiously painted, blood-red paint dripping on raw, unstretched and torn hessian. Angry slogans such as “No Barclaycards here” and “No little white lies” culminate in the triumphant, anti-colonial “We are all pagans.”

Other works such as Claudette Johnson’s sensitive but decisive black pastel drawings of strong black women, Paul Dash’s intense Self-Portrait and Denzil Forrester’s joyfully rebellious Witchdoctor celebrate their people’s beauty, intellect, energy and strength.

A display of book jackets, posters and greeting cards sold in the Bogle-L’Ouverture/Rodney bookshop includes original artwork such as Errol Lloyd’s painting of the poet Accabre Huntley.

Its reappearance on her poems’ book jacket exemplifies the curators’ welcome refusal to rigidly demarcate between “fine” art and illustration.

Such sensitive echoes and connections permeate the exhibition. We hear speeches and poetry readings in the installation by authors whose books we initially discovered through the display of book jackets.

The exhibition can be experienced on many levels, ranging from visceral responses to the arts to a scholarly study of unfamiliar topics. There is much to see, learn and enjoy in this energising testimony of the socio-political power of arts. It’s free — go if you can.

• No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960-1990 runs at the Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard, London EC2 until January 24, opening times:

Photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, exhibition in London

This video from England says about itself:

30 September 2015

On the bicentenary of the birth of Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879), this film explores the life and work of one of the most important and innovative photographers of the 19th century.

By John Green in England:

Views of tender ardour: Julia Margaret Cameron

Saturday 7th November 2015

A new exhibition of Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron’s work shows her to be a dynamic and creative innovator, says JOHN GREEN

Julia Margaret Cameron: Influence and Intimacy at the Science Museum, London SW7


JULIA MARGARET CAMERON was a British pioneer of photography.

Born in Calcutta, the daughter of an official of the East India Company, she was entirely self-taught and only took up the camera as a 48-year-old.

Beginning in 1863, after her daughter gave her a camera, she was only active as a photographer for 15 years.

Yet her legacy is an unrivalled series of portraits of personalities of her time, including poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, painter Holman Hunt, writer Anthony Trollope and astronomer and scientist Sir John Herschel.

“When I have had such men before my camera,” she said, “my whole soul has endeavoured to do its duty towards them in recording faithfully the greatness of the inner as well as the features of the outer man.”

Her work is made up almost entirely of portraits, many of her own family, acquaintances and servants, but in unadorned close-up.

No-one laughs, let alone smiles, in her images. This was probably due to the long exposure times needed at the time, when holding such expressions would have been difficult.

The results give her images a gravitas, earnestness and intimacy. She invariably eschews background scenery or props, giving us the face alone against dark backgrounds.

Cameron said: “From the first moment I handled my lens with a tender ardour, and it has become to me as a living thing, with voice and memory and creative vigour… I began with no knowledge of the art.

“I did not know where to place my dark box, how to focus my sitter and my first picture I effaced to my consternation by rubbing my hand over the filmy side of the glass.”

She made her albumen-silver prints from wet collodion glass-plate negatives and was innovative and unconventional in her approach to the technical applications of her medium in order to create images transcending the purely descriptive function of photography.

Her portrait of Herschel, her “teacher and high priest,” conjures a Rembrandtian figure, a Biblical prophet in three-quarter profile, staring into the far distance.

Her portrait of May Prinsep, The Wild Flower, exudes a calmness and serenity reminiscent of an Italian Renaissance portrait yet, perhaps contradictorily, it also has something of the Victorian penchant for romance and melodrama and an uncanny resemblance to Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s portraits of Jane Morris.

Cameron’s work is radically different from the conventional portrait. They are not obviously posed or staged.

In a letter to Herschel — in response to criticisms others had made about the lack of focus in some of her images — she wrote: “Who has the right to say what focus is the legitimate focus… my aspirations are to ennoble photography and to secure for it the character and uses of high art by combining the real and ideal.”

The few photographs she took in Ceylon, where she later settled with her husband, are an intriguing taster of what she could have achieved.

Two show tea plantation workers against a backdrop of the plantation, others are of local people and differ from other “colonial” images of the time in reflecting a naturalistic and observed reality rather than an attempt to record “ethnographic types” or allegorical figures.

This free exhibition will be chiefly of interest to those with an interest in the history of photography.

But it does also transport us into the Victorian world of 150 years ago better than many a painter or other photographer could do.

Runs until March 28, details:

Wildlife art exhibited in London

Rainbow lorikeets, at the London exhibition

From the Natural History Museum in London, England:

See how artists and scientists view the natural world in 110 images from the Museum’s collection in the Images of Nature gallery.

Spanning 350 years, historic prints, watercolours and paintings hang alongside modern images created by scientists, imaging specialists, photographers and micro-CT scanners.

The gallery includes a temporary exhibition of themed artworks.

Our current exhibition is The Bauer Brothers: Masters of Scientific Illustration, on display until 26 February 2017. We will showcase a new selection of exquisite botanical and zoological watercolours by Franz and Ferdinand Bauer every four months.

Star specimens and exhibits:

  • some of the first scientific images of Australian wildlife, observed by Ferdinand Bauer on the voyage of HMS Investigator (1801-1805)
  • Franz Bauer‘s intricate illustrations of orchids and other exotic plants introduced to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
  • Roelandt Savery‘s famous dodo painting
  • a more scientifically accurate interpretation of the extinct bird by Julian Pender Hume
  • interactive screens, where you can explore a variety of artworks
  • a drawing wall, where you can contribute your own picture

Wildlife art exhibition in London

This video from London, England says about itself:

Sir David Attenborough opens the Society of Wildlife Artists 50th Annual Exhibition

5 November 2013

Sir David Attenborough opens the Society of Wildlife’s 50th Annual Exhibition at Mall Galleries. Introduced by the SWLA President, Harriet Mead, Sir David Attenborough discusses how communication with the natural world is maintained by talented artists.

By John Green in England:

Joyful visions of the natural world

Wednesday 4th November 2015

The Natural Eye
Mall Galleries, London SW1
4 stars

THIS Society of Wildlife Artists annual exhibition brings together the very best of current practitioners’ work and what a selection it is.

Gone are the days of countryside kitsch, sentimentality and shoddy observation. These are artists who know their countryside and have an assured technical command of their particular medium.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, 90 per cent of the works here are of birds. Their sheer variety, colours and shapes are an obvious attraction to artists, offering innumerable opportunities to play around with shapes, patterns and colour and on show are oils, watercolours, woodcuts, prints, sculptures and drawings.

They range from photographic naturalism, through realism to abstraction.

The exhibition also brings together a number of artists working in conjunction with the RSPB and the British Trust for Ornithology in order to document and highlight the conservation work of these organisations.

John Foker is fascinated by the repetitive patterns he discerns in birds’ plumage and how it reflects their habitats, while Keith Shackleton captures the icy glare of light off the sea which frames the silhouettes of sooty albatrosses.

David Gillmor has delicate pastel-coloured linocuts, reminiscent of William Morris wallpaper design blocks, while Yvette Rawson raises a smile with her cheeky wire and textile pigeon sculptures.

The joys of the natural world are captured by these sensitive and capable artists in a free exhibition well worth visiting.

Runs until November 8, details: