what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Painting treasures; bananas and bampots


Avid readers will remember my recent welcome for the work of Sofia City Gallery in opening up the thousands of paintings in its vaults to (selective) outside selection and display. I am always interested in policies for ensuring that the richness of paintings are, somehow, made more accessible. And last evening I encountered the most ambitious attempt – making the images of no less than 200,000 paintings which are currently in British public spaces (whether galleries, council buildings or universities) - accessible to us globally on the internet. It is a partnership between the BBC and an organisation which has steadily been publishing (at very reasonable prices) regional catalogues - and the first 60,000 images have just come available My only regret is that little information is given about the painters,
A short video has the delighful Scottish painter - Alison Watt – from my hometown – visiting the local art gallery (the board of whose wider library and museum complex my father used to chair for many a long year) and giving a lovely intro to the concept.
I have spoken several times of the impact which the novels (and an autobiographical piece) of Amos Oz have made on me recently. Much as I have admired the Proustian anguishings of Istanbul’s Nobel-prize winner Orhan Pamuk over the past decade, he actually can’t hold a candle to Amos Oz who surely should shortly attract the judge’s support. London Review of Books had a good assessment of Pamuk -
Among the less noted, but most striking aspects of the current government is its rediscovery of an Ottoman past long maligned by Turkish secularists. One could argue, without too much exaggeration, that the neo-Ottoman revival was anticipated by Pamuk’s novels, with their intricate portraits of a cultural past which Atatürk and his successors, in their drive to turn Turkey into a Western republic, were determined to bury. The building blocks of modern Turkey were denial, erasure and forgetting; with the establishment of a secular monoculture, the Armenian genocide was negated, Kurds were defined as ‘mountain Turks’, the fez was banned and the script was changed to the Roman alphabet. Trained as an architect, Pamuk has worked in reverse, dismantling the house Atatürk built, laying bare its cracks.
And I told you all to keep reading the Hungarian Spectrum blog – for the case study it currently offers of those we Scots call the "bampots” who are currently in charge of that country. The world’s attention is on the PIGS – so this little banana republic feels it can do what it wants – and it just could be the future hotspot for some central european violence. The posting about military studies becomning part f the school curriculum certainly suggests that this is being prepared for!
But where are the bloggers spotting and mapping such tendencies in other nations??
The painting is a William McTaggart - one of Scotland's big names (Victorian era). It is of the Island of Jura (which has 70 people and a great whisky) and reminded me a little bit of the Mitko Kostadinov I recently bought her in Sofia.

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