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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

The Deepwater Horizon Disaster may convince BP to enter the Canadian Tar Sands

As the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico continues to grow, President Obama halts deepwater oil exploration and calls in the experts. Illustrations by Matt Thomas.

Written by Amelia Gregory


Dan Eldon’s visual diaries; courtesy of Kathy Eldon

At some point in your life, sick cheap you may have kept a diary, website like this pouring into it all of your deepest and darkest thoughts; the ones that you felt were too embarrassing or inappropriate to say aloud. My experience of reading old diaries is always toe-curling, information pills but amusing as I struggle to make sense of why I cared so much about some things to write about them (for example, “loaf of bread head guy” who I adored from afar featured regularly in my diaries for a while – don’t ask!). As much as I would like to say that my diary entries were highly interesting, intelligent, deep and profound, most of them are sleep-inducing and consist of a type of written diarrhea. Thankfully, this is not the case at Cltr.Alt.Shift’s new exhibition, “Dear Diary”.

Dear Diary” is a new project launched by the youth anti-poverty charity to explore the art of diary keeping, taking participants on an inspirational and reflective journey, through the private pages of young individuals across the globe. The exhibition is housed under a funky t-shirt shop in Covent Garden in an intimate space, bringing together several diary collections ranging from Nirvana frontman and lyricist Kurt Cobain, to the stunning visual diaries of Dan Eldon, a young and promising photojournalist who was killed on the front line by an angry mob in Mogadishu, aged only 22.


Dan Eldon’s visual diaries; courtesy of Kathy Eldon

The room is divided into seven exhibits where on entry, you are confronted by four portraits of Eldon’s work, each infused with vivid, bold colours; a stark contrast to the bare white walls. The first image I encountered was the profile of a young, elegant looking tribeswoman wearing an intricate-looking traditional headdress, set against a backdrop of vibrant oranges and pinks. What I found most intriguing about this visual is that it had been signed with “Love and kisses, Angela” and “Love Maria”, and I was curious to know who these woman were. Had they been part of Eldon’s life at some stage and if so, how would their own diaries have read after his death?

Another one of Eldon’s portraits which had a gripping effect on me was that of four faded pictures in what appears to be a group of friends on a camping trip, smiling and chatting happily amongst each other, mounted on a map of Tanzania’s national parks. On closer viewing, the outlines of what appears to be three people – sketched with thick graphite pencil onto grainy beige/orange-coloured paper – are superimposed onto each of the original photos, as if they are joining the group but are separated through their apparent difference in physicality. A sentence is scrawled across the bottom of the map reading: “Dedicated to all 3 who lost their lives during the dramatic escape from Mikumi Nat Park”, providing us with a glimpse of the harsh reality of civil warfare, to which Eldon perished.


Kenya to the UK: Secrets and Struggles Diary Wall (photography by George Ramsay)

I was deeply moved by some of the diary excerpts displayed on the diary wall, written by teenage Kenyans living in extreme poverty and political instability. Although many of the entries were simplistic and occasionally poorly structured, the diarists’ basic descriptions painted a vivid and poignant image of the future that they longed for: “It’s also my hope in future this kind of thing will never happen again coz it also took death to many of my friends and also the separation of my beau and since then we have never communicated which made me so lonely”. Other diary entries detail the violence around elections and the hardship that economic deprivation brings: “…Our family made up of 11, it was hard to grow up due to poverty. It was hard and difficult to study”.


Audio diaries with images above audio decks by Kenyan conservationalist and playboy diarist, Peter Beard (photography by George Ramsay)

Aware that I am painting quite a grim and depressing picture of the exhibition, I assure you that this exhibition is not just a collection of doom and gloom. The audio diaries present a more eclectic mix of personal accounts, ranging from the inspirational to hilarious. Of these, the most compelling piece was of a courageous 19 year old South African girl called Thembi who broke the silence about living with AIDS at a time when it was still a taboo subject in South Africa; she eventually went on to share her story with more than 50 million people. A highly amusing reading from comedian Richard Herring about his painful years as a chubby brainiac, who at the time believed he would be a virgin forever, also makes for an entertaining listen.


Diary library with comfy sofa chair (photography by George Ramsay)

In a far corner of the show room, there is an area for quiet reflection with an extremely comfortable chair which I made my home for a good part of the evening, taking advantage of the diary library, which included entries belonging to Samuel Pepys, Frida Kahlo, Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love and several volumes of Anaïs Nin’s journals. On the top shelf (no, not what you are thinking), there were two books available for documenting your own thoughts, which people had written in throughout the course of the evening, with one refined gentleman expressing that he was looking forward to going home and banging his wife! Nice.


Irving Finkel’s collection of diaries (photography by George Ramsay)

Other exhibition highlights include the unpublished diaries of ordinary people from the 19th century displayed in a glass case, collected by the British Library’s Irving Finkel over the years. Finkel would often search for these items at secondhand shops and house clearances, believing that they hold the key to our histories through the casual documentation of one’s environment at the time. The child in me gravitated towards the Children’s Pocket Annual and Birthday Book of an eight year old girl and scouts’ diaries with stained pages and frayed edges, detailing the mundane routines of school work, bath days and playing with wolf cubs (well maybe playing with wolf cubs wouldn’t have been so mundane).

Ctrl.Alt.Shift’sDear Diary” is an intelligent and thought-provoking initiative, which takes a concept that we are all familiar with to help us understand and relate with others. Through encountering a range of diaries, including that of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, a boy living with Tourette’s in the US and teenagers living in the slums in Kenya, our attention converges on the fact that whatever our language and ethnicity, the expression of thought transcends cultural boundaries. Although we may be divided geographically and by our heritage, fundamentally the feelings that we experience are the same.


Limited edition diary with cover illustrated by Alexa Chung

As part of the project, Ctrl.Alt.Shift have also launched a limited edition diary, with a cover illustrated by Alexa Chung featuring extracts from Courtney Love, Daniel Johnson and Anaïs Nin, which you can buy here. All proceeds raised from the ‘Dear Diary’ project go towards Maji Na Ufanisi, working with young people from the slums of Nairobi.

For more information about location and opening times, check out our listings here.


Excerpt from Courtney Love’s diaries; courtesy of Courtney Love

Dan Eldon’s visual diaries; courtesy of Kathy Eldon

At some point in your life, viagra 100mg you may have kept a diary, nurse pouring into it all of your deepest and darkest thoughts; the ones that you felt were too embarrassing or inappropriate to say aloud. My experience of reading old diaries is always toe-curling, pharm but amusing as I struggle to make sense of why I cared so much about some things to write about them (for example, “loaf of bread head guy” who I adored from afar featured regularly in my diaries for a while – don’t ask!). As much as I would like to say that my diary entries were highly interesting, intelligent, deep and profound, most of them are sleep-inducing and consist of a type of written diarrhea. Thankfully, this is not the case at Cltr.Alt.Shift’s new exhibition, “Dear Diary”.

Dear Diary” is a new project launched by the youth anti-poverty charity to explore the art of diary keeping, taking participants on an inspirational and reflective journey, through the private pages of young individuals across the globe. The exhibition is housed under a funky t-shirt shop in Covent Garden in an intimate space, bringing together several diary collections ranging from Nirvana frontman and lyricist Kurt Cobain, to the stunning visual diaries of Dan Eldon, a young and promising photojournalist who was killed on the front line by an angry mob in Mogadishu, aged only 22.


Dan Eldon’s visual diaries; courtesy of Kathy Eldon

The room is divided into seven exhibits where on entry, you are confronted by four portraits of Eldon’s work, each infused with vivid, bold colours; a stark contrast to the bare white walls. The first image I encountered was the profile of a young, elegant looking tribeswoman wearing an intricate-looking traditional headdress, set against a backdrop of vibrant oranges and pinks. What I found most intriguing about this visual is that it had been signed with “Love and kisses, Angela” and “Love Maria”, and I was curious to know who these woman were. Had they been part of Eldon’s life at some stage and if so, how would their own diaries have read after his death?

Another one of Eldon’s portraits which had a gripping effect on me was that of four faded pictures in what appears to be a group of friends on a camping trip, smiling and chatting happily amongst each other, mounted on a map of Tanzania’s national parks. On closer viewing, the outlines of what appears to be three people – sketched with thick graphite pencil onto grainy beige/orange-coloured paper – are superimposed onto each of the original photos, as if they are joining the group but are separated through their apparent difference in physicality. A sentence is scrawled across the bottom of the map reading: “Dedicated to all 3 who lost their lives during the dramatic escape from Mikumi Nat Park”, providing us with a glimpse of the harsh reality of civil warfare, to which Eldon perished.


Kenya to the UK: Secrets and Struggles Diary Wall (photography by George Ramsay)

I was deeply moved by some of the diary excerpts displayed on the diary wall, written by teenage Kenyans living in extreme poverty and political instability. Although many of the entries were simplistic and occasionally poorly structured, the diarists’ basic descriptions painted a vivid and poignant image of the future that they longed for: “It’s also my hope in future this kind of thing will never happen again coz it also took death to many of my friends and also the separation of my beau and since then we have never communicated which made me so lonely”. Other diary entries detail the violence around elections and the hardship that economic deprivation brings: “…Our family made up of 11, it was hard to grow up due to poverty. It was hard and difficult to study”.


Audio diaries with images above audio decks by Kenyan conservationalist and playboy diarist, Peter Beard (photography by George Ramsay)

Aware that I am painting quite a grim and depressing picture of the exhibition, I assure you that this exhibition is not just a collection of doom and gloom. The audio diaries present a more eclectic mix of personal accounts, ranging from the inspirational to hilarious. Of these, the most compelling piece was of a courageous 19 year old South African girl called Thembi who broke the silence about living with AIDS at a time when it was still a taboo subject in South Africa; she eventually went on to share her story with more than 50 million people. A highly amusing reading from comedian Richard Herring about his painful years as a chubby brainiac, who at the time believed he would be a virgin forever, also makes for an entertaining listen.


Diary library with comfy sofa chair (photography by George Ramsay)

In a far corner of the show room, there is an area for quiet reflection with an extremely comfortable chair which I made my home for a good part of the evening, taking advantage of the diary library, which included entries belonging to Samuel Pepys, Frida Kahlo, Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love and several volumes of Anaïs Nin’s journals. On the top shelf (no, not what you are thinking), there were two books available for documenting your own thoughts, which people had written in throughout the course of the evening, with one refined gentleman expressing that he was looking forward to going home and banging his wife! Nice.


Irving Finkel’s collection of diaries (photography by George Ramsay)

Other exhibition highlights include the unpublished diaries of ordinary people from the 19th century displayed in a glass case, collected by the British Library’s Irving Finkel over the years. Finkel would often search for these items at secondhand shops and house clearances, believing that they hold the key to our histories through the casual documentation of one’s environment at the time. The child in me gravitated towards the Children’s Pocket Annual and Birthday Book of an eight year old girl and scouts’ diaries with stained pages and frayed edges, detailing the mundane routines of school work, bath days and playing with wolf cubs (well maybe playing with wolf cubs wouldn’t have been so mundane).

Ctrl.Alt.Shift’sDear Diary” is an intelligent and thought-provoking initiative, which takes a concept that we are all familiar with to help us understand and relate with others. Through encountering a range of diaries, including that of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, a boy living with Tourette’s in the US and teenagers living in the slums in Kenya, our attention converges on the fact that whatever our language and ethnicity, the expression of thought transcends cultural boundaries. Although we may be divided geographically and by our heritage, fundamentally the feelings that we experience are the same.


Limited edition diary with cover illustrated by Alexa Chung

As part of the project, Ctrl.Alt.Shift have also launched a limited edition diary, with a cover illustrated by Alexa Chung featuring extracts from Courtney Love, Daniel Johnson and Anaïs Nin, which you can buy here. All proceeds raised from the ‘Dear Diary’ project go towards Maji Na Ufanisi, working with young people from the slums of Nairobi.

For more information about location and opening times, check out our listings here.


Excerpt from Courtney Love’s diaries; courtesy of Courtney Love

Dan Eldon’s visual diaries; courtesy of Kathy Eldon

At some point in your life, troche you may have kept a diary, ambulance pouring into it all of your deepest and darkest thoughts; the ones that you felt were too embarrassing or inappropriate to say aloud. My experience of reading old diaries is always toe-curling, information pills but amusing as I struggle to make sense of why I cared so much about some things to write about them (for example, “loaf of bread head guy” who I adored from afar featured regularly in my diaries for a while – don’t ask!). As much as I would like to say that my diary entries were highly interesting, intelligent, deep and profound, most of them are sleep-inducing and consist of a type of written diarrhea. Thankfully, this is not the case at Cltr.Alt.Shift’s new exhibition, “Dear Diary”.

Dear Diary” is a new project launched by the youth anti-poverty charity to explore the art of diary keeping, taking participants on an inspirational and reflective journey, through the private pages of young individuals across the globe. The exhibition is housed under a funky t-shirt shop in Covent Garden in an intimate space, bringing together several diary collections ranging from Nirvana frontman and lyricist Kurt Cobain, to the stunning visual diaries of Dan Eldon, a young and promising photojournalist who was killed on the front line by an angry mob in Mogadishu, aged only 22.


Dan Eldon’s visual diaries; courtesy of Kathy Eldon

The room is divided into seven exhibits where on entry, you are confronted by four portraits of Eldon’s work, each infused with vivid, bold colours; a stark contrast to the bare white walls. The first image I encountered was the profile of a young, elegant looking tribeswoman wearing an intricate-looking traditional headdress, set against a backdrop of vibrant oranges and pinks. What I found most intriguing about this visual is that it had been signed with “Love and kisses, Angela” and “Love Maria”, and I was curious to know who these woman were. Had they been part of Eldon’s life at some stage and if so, how would their own diaries have read after his death?

Another one of Eldon’s portraits which had a gripping effect on me was that of four faded pictures in what appears to be a group of friends on a camping trip, smiling and chatting happily amongst each other, mounted on a map of Tanzania’s national parks. On closer viewing, the outlines of what appears to be three people – sketched with thick graphite pencil onto grainy beige/orange-coloured paper – are superimposed onto each of the original photos, as if they are joining the group but are separated through their apparent difference in physicality. A sentence is scrawled across the bottom of the map reading: “Dedicated to all 3 who lost their lives during the dramatic escape from Mikumi Nat Park”, providing us with a glimpse of the harsh reality of civil warfare, to which Eldon perished.


Kenya to the UK: Secrets and Struggles Diary Wall (photography by George Ramsay)

I was deeply moved by some of the diary excerpts displayed on the diary wall, written by teenage Kenyans living in extreme poverty and political instability. Although many of the entries were simplistic and occasionally poorly structured, the diarists’ basic descriptions painted a vivid and poignant image of the future that they longed for: “It’s also my hope in future this kind of thing will never happen again coz it also took death to many of my friends and also the separation of my beau and since then we have never communicated which made me so lonely”. Other diary entries detail the violence around elections and the hardship that economic deprivation brings: “…Our family made up of 11, it was hard to grow up due to poverty. It was hard and difficult to study”.


Audio diaries with images above audio decks by Kenyan conservationalist and playboy diarist, Peter Beard (photography by George Ramsay)

Aware that I am painting quite a grim and depressing picture of the exhibition, I assure you that this exhibition is not just a collection of doom and gloom. The audio diaries present a more eclectic mix of personal accounts, ranging from the inspirational to hilarious. Of these, the most compelling piece was of a courageous 19 year old South African girl called Thembi who broke the silence about living with AIDS at a time when it was still a taboo subject in South Africa; she eventually went on to share her story with more than 50 million people. A highly amusing reading from comedian Richard Herring about his painful years as a chubby brainiac, who at the time believed he would be a virgin forever, also makes for an entertaining listen.


Diary library with comfy sofa chair (photography by George Ramsay)

In a far corner of the show room, there is an area for quiet reflection with an extremely comfortable chair which I made my home for a good part of the evening, taking advantage of the diary library, which included entries belonging to Samuel Pepys, Frida Kahlo, Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love and several volumes of Anaïs Nin’s journals. On the top shelf (no, not what you are thinking), there were two books available for documenting your own thoughts, which people had written in throughout the course of the evening, with one refined gentleman expressing that he was looking forward to going home and banging his wife! Nice.


Irving Finkel’s collection of diaries (photography by George Ramsay)

Other exhibition highlights include the unpublished diaries of ordinary people from the 19th century displayed in a glass case, collected by the British Library’s Irving Finkel over the years. Finkel would often search for these items at secondhand shops and house clearances, believing that they hold the key to our histories through the casual documentation of one’s environment at the time. The child in me gravitated towards the Children’s Pocket Annual and Birthday Book of an eight year old girl and scouts’ diaries with stained pages and frayed edges, detailing the mundane routines of school work, bath days and playing with wolf cubs (well maybe playing with wolf cubs wouldn’t have been so mundane).

Ctrl.Alt.Shift’sDear Diary” is an intelligent and thought-provoking initiative, which takes a concept that we are all familiar with to help us understand and relate with others. Through encountering a range of diaries, including that of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, a boy living with Tourette’s in the US and teenagers living in the slums in Kenya, our attention converges on the fact that whatever our language and ethnicity, the expression of thought transcends cultural boundaries. Although we may be divided geographically and by our heritage, fundamentally the feelings that we experience are the same.


Limited edition diary with cover illustrated by Alexa Chung

As part of the project, Ctrl.Alt.Shift have also launched a limited edition diary, with a cover illustrated by Alexa Chung featuring extracts from Courtney Love, Daniel Johnson and Anaïs Nin, which you can buy here. All proceeds raised from the ‘Dear Diary’ project go towards Maji Na Ufanisi, working with young people from the slums of Nairobi.

For more information about location and opening times, check out our listings here.


Excerpt from Courtney Love’s diaries; courtesy of Courtney Love

Dan Eldon’s visual diaries; courtesy of Kathy Eldon

At some point in your life, information pills you may have kept a diary, case pouring into it all of your deepest and darkest thoughts; the ones that you felt were too embarrassing or inappropriate to say aloud. My experience of reading old diaries is always toe-curling, sildenafil but amusing as I struggle to make sense of why I cared so much about some things to write about them (for example, “loaf of bread head guy” who I adored from afar featured regularly in my diaries for a while – don’t ask!). As much as I would like to say that my diary entries were highly interesting, intelligent, deep and profound, most of them are sleep-inducing and consist of a type of written diarrhea. Thankfully, this is not the case at Cltr.Alt.Shift’s new exhibition, “Dear Diary”.

Dear Diary” is a new project launched by the youth anti-poverty charity to explore the art of diary keeping, taking participants on an inspirational and reflective journey, through the private pages of young individuals across the globe. The exhibition is housed under a funky t-shirt shop in Covent Garden in an intimate space, bringing together several diary collections ranging from Nirvana frontman and lyricist Kurt Cobain, to the stunning visual diaries of Dan Eldon, a young and promising photojournalist who was killed on the front line by an angry mob in Mogadishu, aged only 22.


Dan Eldon’s visual diaries; courtesy of Kathy Eldon

The room is divided into seven exhibits where on entry, you are confronted by four portraits of Eldon’s work, each infused with vivid, bold colours; a stark contrast to the bare white walls. The first image I encountered was the profile of a young, elegant looking tribeswoman wearing an intricate-looking traditional headdress, set against a backdrop of vibrant oranges and pinks. What I found most intriguing about this visual is that it had been signed with “Love and kisses, Angela” and “Love Maria”, and I was curious to know who these woman were. Had they been part of Eldon’s life at some stage and if so, how would their own diaries have read after his death?

Another one of Eldon’s portraits which had a gripping effect on me was that of four faded pictures in what appears to be a group of friends on a camping trip, smiling and chatting happily amongst each other, mounted on a map of Tanzania’s national parks. On closer viewing, the outlines of what appears to be three people – sketched with thick graphite pencil onto grainy beige/orange-coloured paper – are superimposed onto each of the original photos, as if they are joining the group but are separated through their apparent difference in physicality. A sentence is scrawled across the bottom of the map reading: “Dedicated to all 3 who lost their lives during the dramatic escape from Mikumi Nat Park”, providing us with a glimpse of the harsh reality of civil warfare, to which Eldon perished.


Kenya to the UK: Secrets and Struggles Diary Wall (photography by George Ramsay)

I was deeply moved by some of the diary excerpts displayed on the diary wall, written by teenage Kenyans living in extreme poverty and political instability. Although many of the entries were simplistic and occasionally poorly structured, the diarists’ basic descriptions painted a vivid and poignant image of the future that they longed for: “It’s also my hope in future this kind of thing will never happen again coz it also took death to many of my friends and also the separation of my beau and since then we have never communicated which made me so lonely”. Other diary entries detail the violence around elections and the hardship that economic deprivation brings: “…Our family made up of 11, it was hard to grow up due to poverty. It was hard and difficult to study”.


Audio diaries with images above audio decks by Kenyan conservationalist and playboy diarist, Peter Beard (photography by George Ramsay)

Aware that I am painting quite a grim and depressing picture of the exhibition, I assure you that this exhibition is not just a collection of doom and gloom. The audio diaries present a more eclectic mix of personal accounts, ranging from the inspirational to hilarious. Of these, the most compelling piece was of a courageous 19 year old South African girl called Thembi who broke the silence about living with AIDS at a time when it was still a taboo subject in South Africa; she eventually went on to share her story with more than 50 million people. A highly amusing reading from comedian Richard Herring about his painful years as a chubby brainiac, who at the time believed he would be a virgin forever, also makes for an entertaining listen.


Diary library with comfy sofa chair (photography by George Ramsay)

In a far corner of the show room, there is an area for quiet reflection with an extremely comfortable chair which I made my home for a good part of the evening, taking advantage of the diary library, which included entries belonging to Samuel Pepys, Frida Kahlo, Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love and several volumes of Anaïs Nin’s journals. On the top shelf (no, not what you are thinking), there were two books available for documenting your own thoughts, which people had written in throughout the course of the evening, with one refined gentleman expressing that he was looking forward to going home and banging his wife! Nice.


Irving Finkel’s collection of diaries (photography by George Ramsay)

Other exhibition highlights include the unpublished diaries of ordinary people from the 19th century displayed in a glass case, collected by the British Library’s Irving Finkel over the years. Finkel would often search for these items at secondhand shops and house clearances, believing that they hold the key to our histories through the casual documentation of one’s environment at the time. The child in me gravitated towards the Children’s Pocket Annual and Birthday Book of an eight year old girl and scouts’ diaries with stained pages and frayed edges, detailing the mundane routines of school work, bath days and playing with wolf cubs (well maybe playing with wolf cubs wouldn’t have been so mundane).

Ctrl.Alt.Shift’sDear Diary” is an intelligent and thought-provoking initiative, which takes a concept that we are all familiar with to help us understand and relate with others. Through encountering a range of diaries, including that of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, a boy living with Tourette’s in the US and teenagers living in the slums in Kenya, our attention converges on the fact that whatever our language and ethnicity, the expression of thought transcends cultural boundaries. Although we may be divided geographically and by our heritage, fundamentally the feelings that we experience are the same.


Limited edition diary with cover illustrated by Alexa Chung

As part of the project, Ctrl.Alt.Shift have also launched a limited edition diary, with a cover illustrated by Alexa Chung featuring extracts from Courtney Love, Daniel Johnson and Anaïs Nin, which you can buy here. All proceeds raised from the ‘Dear Diary’ project go towards Maji Na Ufanisi, working with young people from the slums of Nairobi.

For more information about location and opening times, check out our listings here.


Excerpt from Courtney Love’s diaries; courtesy of Courtney Love

There are certain musicians who do what they like. These are the frontline soldiers of the music scene, there venturing into the unknown; fearless of the landmines that could blow their careers into smithereens. Just ask Britney, it’s a dangerous world out there.

David Byrne, on the other hand, appears to be made of vibranium. The former Talking Heads frontman has the uncanny ability to cut artistic diamonds out of pretty much everything he turns his hand to, and his latest project is no exception. In an unlikely collaboration, Byrne has teamed up with club DJ and dance-music producer Fatboy Slim (Norman Cook) to compose a disco opera about the life of Imelda Marcos, who, along with her dictator husband Ferdinand, ruled the Philippines from 1965 to 1986. Confused? Well, I’m not surprised.

Five years in the making, Here Lies Love is a song cycle paying homage to the “Iron Butterfly” (as she was known), which tells the story of Imelda’s rise and fall through a sequence of songs written by Byrne, with Fatboy Slim providing the infectious beats. The impressive and eclectic name-check of female vocalists, including girl-of-the-moment Florence Welch, Martha Wainwright, Tori Amos, Cyndi Lauper, and French chanteuse Camille, reaffirms the faith that Byrne’s fellow artists have in him in pulling off a potentially bonkers project such as this. Steve Earle and Byrne himself also make appearances on the record, where the twenty-two singers take us on a journey of Imelda’s life, from her humble origins to fleeing the country in exile. The roles of the former First Lady and those she was closest to are played out over the 89-minute song cycle, with the most notable character being Estrella Cumpus, Imelda’s childhood servant and friend, who was cast aside as Imelda began to occupy the upper echelons of Filipino society.

The record opens with a catchy, upbeat number from Florence Welch sung in a theatrical style, with a soaring chorus (no surprise there) to orchestral arrangements and squelchy electro. The title track details Imelda’s poverty-stricken childhood, her dreams for a better life and is amusingly also how she would like to be remembered when she dies: “When I am called by God above, don’t have my name carved into the stone, just say, Here Lies Love.”

The story arc continues with Imelda’s early hunger for fame and all things beautiful, captured by Martha Wainwright’s ballad-paced ‘The Rose of Tacloban’: “Elegant women on a magazine page…cutting out their faces, and replacing them with my own,” to her courtship and whirlwind romance with Ferdinand Marcos on ‘Eleven Days’, sung by Cyndi Lauper, who embodies Imelda’s excitement at the prospect of a diamond-dusted future. Over catchy bass lines and retro grooves, Lauper sings: “He gave me—two roses, one is open, one is closed, one is the future, and—one is my love.”

As Imelda makes the transition from simple country gal to fully-fledged member of the Filipino elite, Estrella’s gradual abandonment is highlighted in ‘How Are You?’ by Nellie McKay, in an imagined letter from Estrella to Imelda punctuated by a lively Latin-inspired chorus, and ‘When She Passed By’, which takes on a country-dance slant as Estrella only gets to admire Imelda from afar: “Did you see me outside? Did you see me? When you passed by in your car? Ah well, that’s okay.”

Further along in the song cycle, the record takes a more sinister turn, with angrier, edgier vocals deployed in the form of Alice Russell as Imelda acknowledges her husband’s infidelity: “You play around with that woman, Didn’t you know I cared?…If you prefer that slut—okay.” The last few songs paint a not-so-pretty-picture of martial law, with delicate vocals aptly provided by Natalie Merchant, and also the assassination of Marcos’ rival, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino (who dated Imelda in her youth, but rejected her because she was “too tall”), and then Imelda and Ferdinand being airlifted out of the Malacanang Palace (the White House of Manila) by U.S. marines (there is no mention of the infamous 3,000 pairs of shoes left behind – Byrne never likes to make reference to the obvious).

Among those making an appearance on Here Lies Love, stand out tracks include Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Eleven Days’, who captures the courtship thrill with a sexy and sassy deliverance; Roisin Murphy’s ‘Don’t you Agree’, with her husky tone perfectly pitched against Moloko’s signature staccato sleaze-horns (although hearing Murphy sing “Now, who stood up to the Japanese? Who cares about the Philippines?” pitched against this backdrop does throw you a bit); and Sharon Jones’ ‘Dancing Together’, whose muscular vocals finely complement the attitude-laden funk rhythms. Byrne shines in ‘American Troglodyte’, a song about American excess and the Filipino peoples’ fascination of it, employing a distinctive Talking Heads sound with sexy riffs and swirling synths. All in all, as diverse as the artists may sound on the roll call, the vocalists manage to meld their sequences together to seamless effect, without compromising their own unique style.

Despite the various themes, the record takes on a definitely 1970s and early 1980s disco theme, to honour Imelda’s love of the club scene (she was a regular at Studio 54). There are several moments on the album, such as in Theresa Andersson’s ‘Ladies in Blue’, where you can visualise the former First Lady throwing shapes around her New York townhouse (she had a dance floor and a mirror ball installed for entertaining and pleasure).

Here Lies Love is available in a deluxe hard-bound 120-page book, containing a DVD of news footage, but I got the poor woman’s version which has a double CD presented in a foldable cardboard case and pretty pictures of Imelda’s mother, Remedios, “Ninoy”, the Marcos’s in various poses and Estrella who appears as a blacked out smidge on the sleeve, presumably to illustrate a woman has clearly been left in the shadow.

As far as an analysis of the final piece goes, rather than painting Imelda as a monster, Byrne presents her as a sympathetic and tragic figure, one who lived in her own “bubble world” with an unashamed love of luxury. The record is more about human empathy than politics. Byrne is not proclaiming that Imelda has been misunderstood nor is he asking that we forgive her, but he artfully attempts to make us try to understand what drove her to behave in the way that she did; he considers how her inferiority complex about coming from humble origins may have motored her greed at the expense of her people; and how her gradual dissociation to Estrella may have been the caused by her wanting to rid herself of any association to her difficult past. The record in its entirety is a tribute to Imelda as Byrne tries to demystify such a well-known figure who people know so little about beyond the designer shoes and Swiss bank accounts.

It is inevitable that the musical-influenced style of the record will draw comparisons to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita, but as Byrne has stated in previous interviews, the similarities end beyond both women being dictators’ wives. Here Lies Love is an adventurous project delivered by Byrne and although not every track is an instant classic, it’s definitely worth exploring for the innovation. It is a record that manages to be creative and intelligent yet highly entertaining. Somehow, David Byrne has managed to defy the odds and make his way safely back to the trenches to come up trumps again.
Deepwater Horizon - Matt Thomas
Illustration by Matt Thomas.

I’ll be honest, drugs it’s taken me awhile to get my head around the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. My extreme anger that a disaster like this can happen means that I prefer to bury my head in the sand, drug rather than scurry straight off to find out all the inflammatory facts. But I’ve now had time to have a good rootle around on t’interweb, rx and amongst claims that the volume of oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico could be as much as ten times higher than the estimated 5000 barrels a day, I thought it was high time I tackled the crisis head on.

The area around the Gulf of Mexico has a highly sensitive ecology that harbours such wonders as the gorgeous and strange manatee, turtles and rare migratory birds, but warnings about the dangers of drilling in this area were ignored from the outset. Oil giant BP – the biggest player in deepwater oil exploration – went ahead anyway, and of course there were not enough contingency plans in place to manage any possible leakage from what is the deepest well ever drilled, to a vertical depth of 35,000 feet. Scientists who advised of the huge possible risks were stifled, and, as so often happens, the reports that were followed were produced by organisations paid for by one of the companies involved: the Swiss corporation Transocean, who owned the Korean built Deepwater Horizon oil rig. This was a risky venture from start to finish, and the oil which is flooding out 5000 feet below the surface of the water is at such a great depth that the huge plume is hard to measure or track.

Deepwater Horizon - Matt Thomas
Illustration by Matt Thomas.

Since the leak started several methods have been employed to try and lesson the damage of the spill, including burn-offs that release diluted pollutants into the surrounding water and atmosphere, and the use of chemical dispersants, which are described as “like treating cancer with chemotherapy.” Crude petroleum forms large globules and it is presumed preferable to break the oil down into smaller particles that are easier for micro organisms to digest and pass into the food chain at a quicker rate. What this doesn’t take into account is the effects of heavy duty chemicals on the food chain as they migrate through. Many forms of wildlife will also be at too great a depth to be affected by the dispersants.

Booms are being used to form barriers which should stop the oil from coming ashore, and one enterprising natural solution involves using human and animal hair to form absorbent matting. In the USA PETCO stores are donating up to one ton per day of donated fur from 1000 pet salons up and down the country, and many salons are also contributing human hair, which is assembled into the booms by volunteers on the Gulf Coast.

Perhaps most depressing of all, it’s been reported that the Canadian tar sands will be a beneficiary of this tragedy. “I hate to say it, but what is really bad news for offshore is good news for the oil sands,” one industry insider is quoted as saying. “Environmental damage from land-based oil operations… is more manageable. It is hard to imagine… that it would be as difficult to control as a gusher 5,000 feet below the surface of the ocean.” President Obama has already curtailed offshore development and a planned 2000 mile pipeline to bring crude tar sands directly from Canada to Port Arthur in Texas is looking increasingly likely.

Deepwater Horizon - Matt Thomas
Illustration by Matt Thomas.

As BP, Transocean and arms manufacturer Halliburton (all round bad guys as featured in the film The Yes Men Fix The World) haggle in the courts over who is responsible for the disaster, it was today announced that Obama has deployed a team of five top scientists, including the 82-year-old designer of the first hydrogen bomb, to assist with plans to bung the leaks. Well, he invented the nuclear bomb, what’s not to trust?

The cost of this calamity to BP has been estimated at 6 million dollars a day, with the final bill expected to come in at between 3 billion and 12 billion dollars, and we will see the environmental effects of the spill for many years to come. Regulations in the Gulf of Mexico are likely to tighten from now on, but why does this kind of tremendous catastrophe happen in the first place? For me the answer is obvious. Big businesses like BP have one agenda only, and that is to make money. As much as possible, in whatever way possible. And so they are prepared to take risks when drilling for oil. Like someone weighing up the potential likelihood of getting a parking permit on any one day of illegal parking, they hope that all the corners that are cut, all the cheap routes that are taken, will somehow come up trumps. The theory being that if the parking ticket is avoided, money will be saved, and in BP’s case, the financial profits will be rich.

They will continue to follow this model, and as BP umm and ahh over the prospect of entering the tar sands, I wonder what their decision will be if they are denied anymore offshore drilling in the oily depths of the Gulf of Mexico? Will common sense prevail, or will the nearest alternative cash cow be pursued with the same zeal, whatever the environmental cost? The only way to prevent this outcome is to keep the pressure on, and make sure that it doesn’t happen. Now, or ever.

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4 Responses to “The Deepwater Horizon Disaster may convince BP to enter the Canadian Tar Sands”

  1. Phil England says:

    Nice piece on Deepwater.

    Have been working on one myself over the last couple of days.

    Will post a link when finished.

    My conclusion so far is that there has been no let up in the pressure to “drill baby drill”. The MMS has continued to authorise new drilling since the disaster happened. In his speech on Friday Obama put the fox in charge of the henhouse when he said that Ken Salazar will undertake a “top to bottom” review of the MMS. There has been no clear indication of a change in policy from Obama – yet…

    I think James Hansen would say that it shouldn’t be a case of either deep offshore drilling or tar sands but neither and that all “unconventional” sources of fossil fuels need to be put off limits to achieve climate security.

  2. Amelia says:

    Hi Phil, thanks for your comment. I thought there had been some cessation of drilling from what I read but I could be wrong. And yes of course, it would be great if we could just leave it all in the ground, but I highly doubt the oil industry will feel that way. They will continue to pursue profits as always, Amelia x

  3. Phil England says:

    The piece is now online on the Climate Radio archive:

    http://climateradio.org/deepwater-whos-to-blame/

  4. [...] The top image goes with this article about the Tate’s close relationship with BP and relates to recent news of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. The map shows the area affected by the spill and the direction it is moving in. You can read more about the disaster here. [...]

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