A Japanese living in London writes anything about everyday life in UK – cafe, restaurant, design, stores, politics, news, events, art/museums, films, food, fashion, travel etc. イギリス暮らしもかれこれ10年。カフェ、レストラン、デザイン、お店、政治、ニュース、イベント、アート／美術館、映画、食、ファッション、旅行等々、ロンドンでの日常生活や、英国に関する情報を思いつくままに綴ります。
Tate Britain’s Art under Attack: Histories of British Iconoclasm (Oct 2 – Jan 5, 2014) is an exhibition exploring the history of Iconoclasm (defined as deliberate destruction of icons, symbols or monuments) and attacks on art in Britain from the 16th century to now. The exhibition examines the movements and causes which have led to assaults on art through objects, paintings, sculpture and archival material in three chronological sections: Religion, Politics and Aesthetics.
The Religion sections presents from state-administered iconoclasm under Henry VIII including the Dissolution of the Monasteries during 16th and 17th centuries to attacks on religious art that began with the Reformation and by later rulers and Puritan reformers who feared idolatry. You can see destructive acts on religion and religious art such as statues of Christ decapitated, smashed stained glass, fragments of the rood screen and a defaced book of hours. Dissolution was a tragic incident to British religious communities, but I fascinated by monastery ruins I have seen throughout the countries.
Political iconoclasm encompasses the examples of attacks on symbols of authority during periods of political change, such as breaking statues and monuments, and attacks on paintings in museums and galleries by the militant Suffragettes (second photo below).
Attacks on art can be motivated by unhappiness with the artwork or the ideas it represents. Aesthetics section explores Tate works subjected to verbal attacks in the press and to physical attacks by individuals, as well as destruction on art by artists themselves, such as Auto-destructive art movement and transformational practices applied by artists.
Concept of the exhibition is unique and fascinating, but overall, the show itself seems a bit superficial to me and the issues are not examined in depth – probably because it consists of three different sections. Especially the last section focused on different perspective from the first two with which I enjoyed, and I felt like seeing two different shows. A bit out of focus.
I saw an exhibition “Figures & Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography” (April 12 – July 17) at V&A. The exhibition presents the work of 17 South African photographers who live and work in the country and the photographs on display were taken between 2000 and 2010 in post- apartheid period, when vibrant and sophisticated photographic culture has emerged.
Under National Party rule from 1948 to 94 and the implementation of notorious racial segregation, photography was used by the State to manage racial classification, but also served to document resistance and record the lives of people under racial laws and social segregation. The post-Apartheid photographers depict people in ‘new’ South Africa; culturally diverse, and vibrant democratic country with emerging economic and political power, yet facing high crime rate and big gap between rich and poor. The photographs on display addresses the variety of issues that post-Apartheid South Africa facing; class, politics, racial and gender identities, everyday life of people, family, fashion, religion, colonial history, and less dominant yet still existing ‘old power’ in the society.
Colourful and interesting exhibition that you can feel vibe of modern South African in transition. Forget about stereotypical image of the country where majority black South African led by charismatic Nelson Mandela, fighting with unreasonable oppression for freedom and equality!
↓ 東日本巨大地震チャリティ情報 / Japan Earthquake & Tsunami Charity Information
UK is known as a welfare state that offers a variety of benefits to people in need, in compare to many other non-European countries. It is great to support vulnerable people, but at the same time, it is true that there are some people who don’t need help, take advantage from the welfare system. Some people including young people live on benefits for years, though they are completely healthy and capable to work, using numerous welfare benefits possible – free NHS medical service, free or inexpensive Council Housing and Housing Benefit for low income families, Job Seekers Allowance, Child Benefit, Disability Benefit and so on.
Often you can see the stories of those people on the media, such as single mother who have had dozens of children and never worked but live off child benefits and other public financial supports, and young men who have no intention to look for a job because they believe the income from low-paid jobs wouldn’t be much higher than benefits. In order to maintain these welfare system, British pay massive 17.5% VAT (would be 20% next year), and I always wonder if British tax payers wouldn’t get furious at these people.
Today, Prime Minister David Cameron promised a tough stance on benefit fraud, to reduce the budget deficit. Last year 56,493 ‘benefit thieves’ were caught and had to pay back the money they received, according to DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) that launched Targeting Benefit Thieves campaign in 2002 to crackdown on these falsely claiming benefit. Over 50,000 people! No wonder why I have seen TV ads like the video above and campaign posters all over the town.
Cameron’s plan to tackle the problem that cost £1.5bn a year fraud,£460m from child and working tax credits and £1bn from benefits (BBC article), include use of private credit rating firms to go after benefit thieves – hope it works.
Rude Britannia presents British comic art from 1600s to to the present day. From painting, drawing, sculpture, to film and photography, by historical and contemporary artists like Hogarth and YBAs, the works are divided in a category such as ‘Absurd’, ‘Bawdy’, ‘Politics’ and ‘Social Satire’. One room is dedicated to ‘The Worship of Bacchus‘ by George Cruikshank, and the room on the Absurd is curated by comedian and TV presenter Harry Hill. The subjects are varied from ordinary citizens and aristocrats to historical figures such as Napoleon and Hitler, and successive British prime ministers like Thatcher, Major, and Blair are not an exception as a target by the comic artists. →Click here for more photos.
Caricatured figures are often grotesque and look ridiculous, and ‘bawdy’ art can be obscene and indecent, but comic art reflects people’s interests and concerns, lifestyle, politics and social circumstances of the time and British sense of humor, and it is quite interesting to look at. However, in compare to usual large scale impressive exhibition of Tate, Rude Britannia is rather small and less spectacular, I think.
Shaun Doyle and Mally Mallinson’s “Death to the Fascist Fruit Boys” (2010)
この番組に先立ち、タイムズ紙でも、ロイヤルメールに関する面白い記事を見つけた。タイムズのチームは、宝くじ入り（£1相当）の100通のバースデーカードを全国の宛先に送り、どのぐらいの確率で配達され、配達までにどのぐらい時間がかかるか、そして宝くじはちゃんと封筒に入ったままかを調べる実験を行った。半分はファーストクラスで、そして半分はセカンドクラスで発送（郵便に関する詳細は過去エントリー参照）。そして半分は糊付して、半分は開封したまま封入口を中にたくし込んである。その結果は、宝くじ入りで届いたのが93通、3通は未達だった。92％のファーストクラス扱いは翌日着、98％セカンドクラス扱いは2日以内に配達先に到着した。私は、イギリスでこの数字は上出来だと思うのだが、タイムズ紙の記者は「Royal Mail can no longer be trusted（ロイヤルメールはもはや信用できない）」と手厳しい。ロイヤルメールには、1日5000件の苦情が届くそうだ。私も過去に数回行方不明になった手紙・小包がある。ロイヤルメールの経営陣も、組合との対決が怖くて（イギリスでは組合は非常に力を持っている）、事態改善には及び腰だと言う。
I saw Channel 4‘s “Dispatches: Post Office Undercover” today. Dispatches is the current affairs documentary series, started in 1987. The program covers issues such as British society, politics, health, religion, environment, and international current affairs, usually featuring an undercover journalist in an organisation. BBC‘s Panorama is the same kind of documentary series, but the running time of Panorama is just 30 minutes, and Dispatches can dig an issue deeper as it is an one-hour program.
Though I don’t go to a post office as often recently, I go there quite often and am quite interested in the post office related topic. Dispatches went undercover to investigate the Royal Mail, to reveal some problems such as stealing of mails etc in 2004 and 2005, resulting in an enquiry by the postal regulator, followed by a fine of almost £10 million. The program sent two reporters go undercover again to find out if the Royal Mail has delivered on claims that it is modernising and improving its service. The result is… no improvement from 5 years ago; poorly trained agency workers, damaged and defective equipment, inadequate ID check and security, theft from the letters and packages, angry members of the public who have experienced damaged mail, delays and poor service, lack of modernization like automated sorting system, workers’ frustration against pay and working times and the management, sabotage of work as a result, and the Royal Mail’s same old excuse and criticism against Channel 4 . The claimed modernization costing £1.3 billion is nowhere to be seen, and postal experts raise the alarm against the Royal Mail.
I found an interesting article on the Times few days ago, related to this program. The Times Money team sent 100 birthday cards with a National Lottery scratchcard worth £1 to the addresses across the country, to discover how many of them would arrive, how long they would take, and if any of the scratchcards would go missing: half of the cards 1st-class, and the rest 2nd-second class (see more details in my past entry about the mail service), and half of the envelopes were sealed and half were left unsealed but with the sleeve firmly tucked in. The result is: 93 arrived with their scratchcards and 3 letters did not arrive. 92% 1st class mails arrived the next day, and 98% 2nd class arrived within 2 days. I thought the number is not bad at all as of UK service, but the Times journalist harshly conclude as “Royal Mail can no longer be trusted.” The Royal mail receives 5,000 complaints everyday, according to the Times, and I have experienced missing mails several times in the past.Insiders at Royal Mail say that management’s failure to act is in part rooted in a fear of implementing any measures that might be perceived as unfairly targeting the innocent majority of staff.
Of course, most of the posties do their job seriously with sense of responsibility, but there is no way that few bad apple comes into the large corporation like the Royal Mail (especially in big cities like London). But the most striking issue I find in the program is the strong mistrust among workers against the management, and their lack of motivation. There is no sense of pride to be a postal worker or loyalty to the Royal Mail. Although the postal strike threat before the Christmas was avoided by the agreement between the management and the unions, the frustrated workers failed to met up their job and caused major delays in delivery during the busy season. The post offices where the two journalists went undercover are in Brixton and Tooting, where are not the best areas of London, but I think the biggest problem is the Royal Mail’s lack of leadership to raise the motivation among the workers. Where is the good old proud postmen, like Postman Pat??