A month into the new year and time is flying by. This is the first chance I have had to write a new blog and to visit museums!
This is a really interesting read. This article, written and researched by the Cultural Learning Alliance (CLA) explores the social, educational, economic and personal value of the arts. In a way it would be easy to begin reading with a prejudiced view – the numerous ‘Dames’, ‘Lords’ and ‘Doctors’ putting their signatures to the findings puts a distance between the research of the arts’ effect on low-income families and the phrase ‘what would they know?’ into the reader’s head. But the facts cannot be easily disputed. The knowledge and empowerment an understanding of the arts can give an individual and in turn the wider community (through festivals, gaming, volunteering etc.) is huge – with ‘students from low-income families who engage in the arts at school … 20% more likely to vote as young adults’. With cuts to the arts swinging left and right, I think it is important to remember the value of culture and the sense of understanding and belonging that comes with it.
Winston Churchill and the arts
The above article put me in mind of one of Churchill’s more famous quotes: ‘The arts are essential to any complete national life. The State owes it to itself to sustain and encourage them… Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the reverence and delight which are their due’… A rather dramatically put sentence, but one I wholeheartedly agree with.
I walk past this building at least once a week and have often wandered what might be inside. On a wet and windy day in January, I decided to take a closer look and dragged my sick boyfriend along with me. Once inside, it is easy to feel disorientated with its low ceilings and rickety staircases taking the visitor on a historical journey from the Victorian era to today. Upstairs features a brief history of toy making in Walthamstow, which showcases old children’s games and photographs of employees working in the old factories. Downstairs explores the history of the building – once a workhouse, police station, private house and finally museum – and looks at the lives of those children who would have worked there. The museum’s current exhibition, situated towards the rear of the building, looks at the lives of those who bought Warner houses in Walthamstow and still live there today. The visitor can listen to oral histories, read documents and view photographs of lives lived in East London during the twentieth century. I would describe it is a small, but perfectly formed museum – the perfect visit for someone who has no particular agenda and would like to see something a little different.
To ban Anish Kapoor from buying the world’s pinkest pink, as a response to Kapoor purchasing the rights to the blackest black is somewhat childish… but inspiring.
V&A – Lockwood Kipling and glittering jewellery
A trip to the V&A always proves to be an interesting visit. There are always multiple exhibitions to go and see at this museum, and we happened to come across one on Lockwood Kipling. This fascinating exhibition looks at Rudyard Kipling’s father’s life in India and the eclectic possessions, photographs, paintings (and even a video of the arts university he founded in India and used today) on display give colour to such an interesting life. I get excited when I see anything to do with the Pre-Raphaelites, and I immediately clocked the Edward Burne-Jones decoration adorning the top of a piano – a family relation through marriage to Kipling. There are intricate textiles that are rich in earthy tones and portraits of the famous Kiplings to take a closer look at. I knew nothing of Lockwood Kipling and I walked away feeling a little more enlightened on such an interesting character. The jewellery collection is also something to behold. Sparkling and glittering, the range of on display is wonderful – from tiaras and earrings to belt buckles and swords – definitely worth a visit!
I have just completed one month’s abstinence from alcohol and although I would have to admit to not feeling any different then before – it was a good opportunity to make the most out of the new hobbies I have started this year. I have taken up running (well, jogging to be more precise!), pottery and joined a netball team – all of which have been wonderful in their own way. It was actually quite an enjoyable experience and one I will definitely be doing again in the future!
Quote of the week:
‘Arts learning is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. It’s really the air many of these kids breathe. It’s how we get kids excited about getting up and going to school in the morning. It’s how we get them to take ownership of their future’.
Michelle Obama, Honorary Chair, President’s Committee on the Arts & the Humanities, 2009-2016