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Posts Tagged ‘scotland’

Photo: James Glossop 
Charlotte Hoather as Uccellina in the “BambinO” production from Scottish Opera, Improbable theater company and the Manchester International Festival.

I know that babies take swimming lessons these days and yoga with Mama. I know they go to music classes (“put your instruments back in the Taster’s Choice bin before we go home”). But opera?

Well, why not? Some babies are so loud everyone says they will be opera stars when they grow up.

Michael Cooper, a reporter for the New York Times, wrote in March at about an opera actually designed for babies. “The average age at the Metropolitan Opera is about to get lower — much lower. Sitting still will not be required: Audience members will be encouraged to crawl around and interact with the singers if they like. The dress code will be so relaxed that many operagoers may opt for onesies.

“No, the barbarians are not at the gate. The Met is presenting a new opera for babies.

“The company will present 10 free performances of ‘BambinO,’ an opera for babies between 6 months old and 18 months old, from April 30 to May 5. …

“The most unusual opera, about a bird, an egg and chick, was written by the composer Lliam Paterson and developed by Scottish Opera, Improbable theater company and the Manchester International Festival. It was directed by Phelim McDermott. …

“ ‘In the Met’s never-ending quest to develop audiences of the future, we’ve decided to start at the very beginning,’ Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, said in a statement.

“The opera will be performed for 25 babies, who will be seated on the laps of their caregivers on benches with cushions around the perimeter of the stage area.

Changing tables and stroller parking will be provided.

“The Met’s education team will work with researchers in infant development and early childhood music education from the Rita Gold Early Childhood Center at Teachers College, Columbia University.” More at the New York Times, here.

I apologize for not posting this in time for New York readers to take babies to the opera, but you can read a thoughtful review at Broadway World:

“No one in the audience as on Facebook or Twitter during Lliam Paterson’s opera BAMBINO at the Met’s List Hall — a rare occurrence for the company these days — on Friday May 4. In fact, no one looked at a cell phone at all during the performance. And nobody fell asleep — even though the opera was written for 6-18 month-olds. …

” ‘It’s lovely to see the full range of reactions the show has received,’ says Paterson, ‘and that every little toddler is just a person — and you’re already seeing all of the characteristics that are eventually going to come out.’ ”

Let’s hope operas for babies help build audiences for the future. “Free” is definitely the way to start.

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Photo: Ruairi Gray/Twitter
Students tricked a museum into exhibiting an ordinary pineapple as a piece of art.

They used to say of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis that the janitorial staff had to be careful not to leave a mop and bucket in a gallery even for a moment or they could come back to find a cluster of museum-goers studying it.

Actually, that can happen.

Recently, Roisin O’Connor wrote at the Independent that students left a pineapple in a gallery of a Scottish museum and someone on the staff thought it was the real thing.

“Students claim they managed to pass off a pineapple they bought for £1 at a supermarket as a work of art, after leaving it in the middle of an exhibition at their university,

“Ruairi Gray, a business information technology student at Robert Gordon University in Scotland, and his friend Lloyd Jack, reportedly left the fruit at the Look Again exhibition at RGU’s Sir Ian Wood building, hoping that it might be mistaken for art.

“When they returned four days later he found that the pineapple had been put inside its own glass display case at the event. …

“Natalie Kerr, a cultural assistant for the festival who organised the display, said she wasn’t the one who included the fruit as an artwork because she is allergic to pineapple.

” ‘We were moving the exhibition, and came back after 10 minutes and it was in this glass case,’ she told the Press & Journal. …

“The incident recalls a similar prank last year when a 17-year-old placed a pair of glasses on the floor at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

“Apparently unimpressed with some of the work on display and wanting to test the theory that people will try to interpret any object provided it is in a gallery setting, TJ Khayatan placed the glasses on the floor and walked away.

“Soon after, visitors to the gallery surrounded them and began taking pictures.”

More at the Independent, here, and at the NY Times, here.

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Photo: SWG3/Facebook
Y
ardworks takes place May 6 and 7
, 2017, in Glasgow, Scotland.

Melita knows I like artistic graffiti. In fact, we are both such fans of Lata_65 (graffiti for old folks) that we intend to try our hand at spray painting if the organization ever comes to the Boston area.

Today Melita shared a link on Facebook about graffiti in Glasgow.

Gregor Kyle wrote at GlasgowLive, “Scotland’s first dedicated graffiti festival will take street art into the heart of the community in Glasgow and open up new opportunities for young people across the city.

“Next weekend (May 6 and 7) in Finnieston, SWG3 will host over 30 of the world’s finest graffiti artists and 50 of Scotland’s street artists at the Yardworks Festival. …

“One of its main aims is to strengthen SWG3’s bond with the local community and the city of Glasgow as a whole.

“School and youth groups have been invited, with the days featuring specialist graffiti workshops and a ‘Creation Station’ for children which will allow everyone the chance to try their hand at painting. …

“ ‘It’s Scotland’s first graffiti festival and the scale of it now, the way it has grown, it’s massive now,’ explained Gaz, who is himself a graffiti artist and part of the management team at SWG3. …

“Most Glaswegians will know SWG3 as a club and concert space but by day it is a thriving hub for artists, filled with studio spaces and workshops. Slowly but steadily it has progressed over the years with the scale and ambitions of its projects growing bigger and bigger.

” ‘The yard is now basically a massive canvas for the artists,’ continued Gaz. ‘We have rendered the walls, wrapped containers in sheet metal – at no small expense – and every surface will be perfect for the artists to paint on. …

” ‘We are trying to build a sense of community in the area, which can be hard sometimes when you have a transient population with some of the students maybe only staying in the flats here for a term and then moving on.

“ ‘Finnieston has this reputation as this hipster area; what people forget is that there is this core population here and in the likes of Partick and Anderston who have lived here a long time. …

“ ‘The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow were fantastic for the city. They drew people together and, through a number of projects, connected me with a lot of other artists and graffiti writers that I didn’t know in the city.

“ ‘We will be looking to run workshops in the summer for young people and will try to play our part in improving the area and bringing the community together.’ ”

More at GlasgowLive, here.

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Photo: SWNS
Annis Lindkvist, right, and her younger sister, Emma Åhlström, with Jimmy Fraser, a homeless Scot they invited for Christmas in Sweden. 

I have never been sure how to react to someone who is homeless, but I have learned smiling is better than walking past, head down.

Mother Teresa said to smile. A woman who runs an excellent Rhode Island homeless agency told me she doesn’t give anyone money but talks to people and tries to see if she can help with a referral or something to eat. A formerly homeless veteran told me he always talks to veterans and tells them where to find veterans services. Once he took in a stranger overnight. Some people will buy a sandwich or a cup of coffee.

Last week as I was talking to an employee of a refugee agency, I became curious about how he was led to his current work. He said, “One day I stopped walking past people.”

He didn’t initially look for refugee work, but he landed there after launching his personal outreach to homeless people and a subsequent stint in Americorps. He used to talk to people on the New York City streets, asked what they needed and delivered food, socks, and as many of their needs as he could.

So many good people out there showing kindness one person at a time!

This Guardian story about a Swedish tourist in Scotland who not only befriended a homeless man but invited him for Christmas with her family (and sent him airfare) is really over the top.

Libby Brooks writes, “A homeless man from Edinburgh has described the ‘incredible act of kindness’ of a tourist who invited him to spend Christmas at her family home in Sweden.

“Jimmy Fraser was begging on George Street in the city centre when Annis Lindkvist and her sister Emma, from Sagmyra in central Sweden, asked him for directions.

“They struck up a friendship and swapped numbers at the end of the trip, staying in touch by text before Lindkvist offered to pay for his flights so he could spend a week with her family over the festive period.

“Fraser, who became homeless following his divorce 13 years ago, said: ‘It’s weird, I know. I was begging on George Street and these two women came up to me and the next thing I knew I was in Sweden. People promise you things all the time on the street but they never materialise.

” ‘But I thought I’m going to go for it as it’s once in a lifetime. I couldn’t believe it anyway at first. People tell you “see you tomorrow, I’ll get you a drink” and then nothing happens. But this did happen, actually, so it was really weird.’

“The 54-year-old former security guard, who went to an ice hockey match, Christmas markets and midnight mass with his host’s family and friends, told the BBC News website: ‘It was a beautiful experience.’ …

“Lindkvist described her own doubts about issuing such an open invitation to a stranger. ‘We give money to charity every month but we have never done anything like this before,’ she said. ‘There were friends and family who thought I was really crazy, but I just opened my home to him and said everything that is ours was his too.’

“The 37-year-old, who works with dementia sufferers, said she had invited Fraser back to stay with the family again over the Easter break, and that he was ‘part of the family now.’ ”

More here.

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Today, our anniversary, I’m remembering some of the novelties we encountered as we toured Scotland on our honeymoon.

For example, I found I really loved scotch eggs, having never had them before. I remember making them a few times in the deep-fat fryer when we got home. (FYI: they are hard-boiled eggs wrapped in sausage.)

Here’s a funny article by way of an environmentalist on twitter (@tveitdal) about a “scotch egg company” that “claims to have cracked the problem of eggshell waste.”

Sarah Shearman writes at inkl.com, “Leicester-based egg processing plant Just Egg hard boils and peels 1.5m eggs a week for snacks such as egg mayonnaise and Scotch eggs, creating mountains of shells to dispose of. It’s a dilemma the company’s owner, Pankaj Pancholi, has been keen to crack since he launched the business 14 years ago.

“At home, eggshells can easily be composted or sprinkled on flower beds as a slug deterrent or soil enhancer. But for industrial egg producers, shells have to be disposed of in landfill because the waste egg attached to them rots quickly, causing a smelly by-product.**

“It costs Pancholi around £50,000 a year to dispose of them, a significant sum for a company with [revenue] of £4.2m last year.

“In 2012, Pancholi teamed up with Prof Andy Abbott and scientists at Leicester University to find a cost-effective, sustainable way to recycle the shells.

“Eggshell is made of calcium carbonate, like chalk, with a hard-wearing, crystalline structure. Since chalk is often used as a filler to reinforce plastic, Abbott hatched a plan to do the same with eggshell powder.

“Abbott’s department set to work designing a plant to make this eggshell powder. Because Just Egg has to dispose of eggshells swiftly to avoid the rot, the eggshell processing plant was built as an extension to the existing factory, with the eggshells passing through on a conveyor belt to be processed.

“The eggshells are chopped up with blades and washed and treated with a water-based solution to remove any remaining egg protein. The egg membrane (the clear film lining the eggshell) is also retained, as the Leicester scientists are exploring potential uses for it, such as wound dressings. …

“Each egg produces about 15g of shell and the team has been stockpiling the powder, awaiting the first order. Abbott has been spreading the word about the product and says there has been interest from ‘hundreds’ of plastics companies.”

** Oh, my goodness. Here is where I remind you that in 7th grade I created an amazing egg-breaking machine with Joanna Pousette-Dart and left it in the science classroom, forgetting I needed to take it home. Rot was definitely an issue.

More here.

Photo: Dan Matthews
Just Egg boils and peels 1.5m eggs a week. It used to cost £50,000 a year to dispose of the shells. Now the company pulverizes the shells and expects to sell the powder to plastics companies.
 

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You’ve heard of working vacations to learn about farm life and milking cows or to help Earthwatch study sea lions. A new and unusual vacation offering involves running a bookshop.

‘Literature lovers often dream about owning a bookshop ,” writes Jess Denham at The Independent, “and now, the opportunity is there if you’re willing to fork out £150 for the privilege.

“The Open Book shop in Scotland’s ‘national book town’ of Wigtown has been listed on room-letting website AirBnB offering wordy holidaymakers the chance to work a 40-hour week selling books and customising the store with their ‘own stamp.’ ”

“Local book experts will be on hand to train guests in the seaside town …

“Some ten guests have already hired the bookshop and apartment above, including an elderly couple fulfilling a lifelong ambition, two members of a band that writes and performs songs about books, a librarian from Oregon and a Dutch civil servant. … Guests are encouraged to blog about their experience while carrying out ‘all the normal duties of a bookseller’ …

“Independent authors are invited to sell their own books in the store and set up their own promotional displays.”

More here.

Photo: The Open Book
The Open Book store in Wigtown, Scotland, is opening its doors to holidaymakers.

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Mary Ann is a creative person and a great source of blog ideas. She also remembers topics I’ve enjoyed in the past. For example, the stealth book artist in Scotland. She sent me word of the artist’s new accessibility.

The BBC reports, “An anonymous artist has been leaving delicate paper sculptures made from old books at locations in Edinburgh and around Scotland for more than three years.  The identity of the woman has remained secret despite the international attention that the book sculptures have received.

“BBC Scotland’s arts correspondent Pauline McLean conducted an interview with her — via email to maintain her anonymity.

“Question: Why did you start making the sculptures?

“Answer: The first book sculpture, a little tree for The Scottish Poetry Library, was made primarily as a response to library closures and cutbacks. But it was also as a bit of fun for the library staff who, throughout Scotland, the UK and much further afield, provide a service in straitened times — above and beyond. It was a poor attempt to illustrate the notion that a book is more than just a book — and a library is a special kind of building.

“It’s no secret that I would like everyone to have access to books, art, artifacts and the buildings that house them. Not just those with the money for a ticket. I think it’s true that the immediate way we can and do now access information has altered things. But it remains important to have expert help, to see things for real, to have buildings set aside that inspire and make expectations of us and that anyone can enter. …

“I like to think the sculptures have served their purpose in some small way, but I do worry that they overly draw attention to themselves as objects. My intention was never that they be viewed as artworks or even that they would last. They are, after all, made from clapped-out old books. The end for me though was in leaving them. Once a gift is given it is in the hands of another.” More here.

There are several good pictures of book sculptures at the BBC site. Suzanne’s Mom couldn’t resist the one below. It makes me nostalgic for the inspired ceramic tea cups of Anne Kraus.

Photo: Anonymous book sculptor
“Nothing beats a nice cup of tea (or coffee) and a really good book.”

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