Year: 2015

Queen’s Birthday Honours 2015: Redmayne & Lampard Made OBEs

Eddie Redmayne, best actor Oscar winner and former Chelsea and England international Frank Lampard have been recognised in the Queen’s 2015 Birthday Honours List. Lampard was awarded an OBE in recognition of his sterling football career at Chelsea where he netted 150 goals making him the club’s most prolific goalscorer from midfield. He described it as an extremely proud moment for him and his family. Redmayne was awarded an OBE for a career-defining role playing scientist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. He lives in Chelsea with his wife Hannah Bagshawe. Paddington Bear author Michael Bond, 89, was made a CBE for his most famous chronicles of the adventures of a Peruvian Bear which has been translated into many languages and was made into a film last year. The marmalade-loving and duffle coat wearing bear who became lost at west London’s Paddington train station has become one of  London’s most recognised faces.

Gourd of the Apes: Meet the Champagne Chimps

They are our closest cousins and it has now been proven they also share our propensity for a good bottle of red. Scientists who conducted the research study at Bossou in Guinea West Africa found wild chimpanzees had adapted their behaviour to consume palm wine, a local tipple fermented at the top of palm trees inside improvised plastic gourds. The study – published in the journal Royal Society Open Science –  also showed African apes and humans share a genetic mutation that enables them to digest alcohol. It had been once thought only humans engaged in the voluntary and social consumption of alcohol until this discovery. The scientists found evidence of the long-term and recurrent consumption of fermented alcohol from the raffia palm (Raphia hookeri, Arecaceae) by primates from 1995 to 2012. Chimpanzees at Bossou also consumed this alcoholic beverage, often in large quantities, despite an average presence of alcohol of 3.1% alcohol by volume rising to 6.9%. Raffia palms, which occur naturally in seasonally flooded areas are traditionally tapped by locals close to the crown of mature palms, …

Human Face of Man Who Built the Web

The self-effacing man who created the World Wide Web does not fancy staring at a computer screen if he can help it hence when the National Portrait Gallery commissioned a portrait of Sir Tim Berners-Lee – the inventor of what has now become the internet –  he opted to pose with his trusted rucksack without any gizmo in sight. The painted bronze sculpture, by artist Sean Henry, shows Berners-Lee standing at two-thirds life-size on a tall plinth, carrying the leather rucksack in which he keeps his laptop. Apart from photographs, it is the computer scientist’s first commissioned portrait. Henry spent two days with Berners-Lee in Boston, observing and photographing him at work and visiting him at home, before inviting him to two further sittings at his studio in Britain. Commissioned by the NPG to celebrate Sir Tim’s 60th birthday, the choice of Henry to make a painted sculpture came out of discussions with the sitter and his wife, and the wish to move away from the usual photographic depiction of Berners-Lee seated in front of a computer. …

Submerged in Art at Olympia

The culture vultures of west London have never had it so good as Art15 London, returns to Olympia’s grand exhibition halls for a third year running. It is already looking like a crowded calendar with punters spoilt for choice in terms of visual arts. There is also the inaugural Photo London and Chelsea Flower Show vying for supremacy. Read more: Photo London – A City Finally in the Frame But the opening night preview is when organisers try to woo a discerning audience of collectors and visitors. The inaugural edition of the fair, Art13 London, attracted galleries and artists from across the globe and welcomed 25,000 visitors over three days, including a host of celebrities, from fashion photographer Mario Testino to One Direction heart-throb Harry Styles. It was widely acclaimed as the most vibrant fair to debut in the capital in a decade with a varied programme for visitors and serious art connoisseurs. What started as a toe-in-the-water event now seems well-established on the crowded London arts calendar attracting celebrities, art dealers, green-horn collectors, families …

Photo London: A City Finally in the Frame

Urban landscape: Sohei Nishino’s diorama map shows a stunning view of London © Michael Hoppen Gallery How could London ever aspire to be ranked alongside the world’s culture capitals without a world-class photography showcase? Paris has had Paris Photo for an eternity and New York earns its kudos with the respected annual AIPAD show. Despite its rich cultural mix of all-year long arts and culture, world-renowned galleries and influential patrons, London has never been regarded in the same light as its rival cities when it came to its photographic offerings. That is, until the birth of Photo London. It seems 2015 is when it all finally clicked into place. The inaugural photo festival takes place at the Somerset House where Sir John Herschel was said to have first coined the word photography in 1839. So a fitting venue to host the comprehensive schedule of exhibitions, talks, screenings and interviews over five days. Photo London features over 50 leading photographers and curators at 40 events over five days. On show will also be the work of …

JK Rowling Battles Twitter Bullies

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has revealed a torrent of Twitter abuse aimed at her after results of the general election saw the Scottish National Party sweep to a landslide victory in Scotland. She wrote: “It isn’t always fun being a famous woman on Twitter and I believe in standing up to bullies.” The millionairess was born in London and has a £4.5m Georgian home in Kensington but has attracted a lot of vitriol since she donated £1m to the ‘No’ campaign during the Scottish independence referendum. Reacting to the abuse the author said her “personal line had been crossed”. @UFOria_ the image of any political party. It isn't always fun being a famous woman on Twitter and I believe in standing up to bullies. — J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) May 9, 2015 She had also donated £1m to the Labour Party who suffered a wipe-out in Scotland as the SNP won 56 out of 59 seats under the leadership of Nicola Sturgeon. She revealed she had been called a ‘traitor’ for her political views and …

#GE2015: Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail

Would the soaring rhetoric of a Winston Churchill have been suited to the political campaign slugfest of the 21st century? For them, no battle-buses, digital and social media gurus or American campaign strategists. Just a trusted open-top wagon with all the passion and oratorical skills they could muster. Fast-forward to 2015 and the UK general elections is shaping up to be the most-covered elections in modern times, thanks to a plethora of media platforms, social media, streaming apps and do-it-yourself broadcasting tools. But perhaps devoid of the human affection and interaction with which a Churchill would have been more familiar. Apart from the traditional voter, modern-day politicians also have to appeal to the millennials who inhabit a digital world exclusively. In the mix are also an array of hyperlocal news sites and irreverent forums where locals vent their spleen. Politicians indeed have their work cut out as they try to spread their message and canvass for votes. And yes, there is no hiding place from the media glare and public scrutiny. Photo opportunities that go awry …