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Monday, 27 April 2009
Roadside Nature Reserve


This is a small nature reserve on the Kent/Surrey border that I pass. It’s teaming with wildlife and currently (by the smell of things) wild-death.

Posted by bigblue on 27/04/2009 at 08:04 PM
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Sunday, 26 April 2009
Critical Reflections


The fox in The Little Prince said that it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye. Brice Marden commented that a good piece of art should slow down time so that people may stop and reflect on what they have neglected in their frivolous and hectic lives.

This week I went to see a student art exhibition, and was struck by much of what I saw but in particular by the intersection between the personal and public aspects of the art for these young people.


The photos here are of works by Xiaodi Chen, and here are some extracts from her candidate statement:

My growing interest in the impacts of technological development and globalization on our lives gradually took my focus from the individual to the collective. In a culture aiming for profit, we tend to ignore the negative aspects of our economic behaviours. I therefore wanted to use my art to expose the grim facts behind the façade of gaíety in our society.

In a country where my mother tongue is not spoken, painting naturally becomes my preferred way in exploring the nuances of life. Oil paint, which I found the easiest to manipulate, was my favourite. Yet, works by Claes Oldenburg alerted me that my satisfaction with oil paint had blinded me to other possibilities in artistic expression. Being particularly inspired by the fact that a genius use of material can magically transform the mundane to the extraordinary, I turned Coca-Cola cans into prayer wheels and instant noodles into a traditional Chinese painting, hoping to provoke more critical reflections on culture and society by constructing the metaphors.

If I could have only one expectation for my art, I wish all my works to be torches lighting the path to our hearts; so that one day, we may see the truth that is invisible to our eyes now.

I have highlighted just one aspect of her exhibition - I was impressed by the range of works that she produced, and her weaving of cultural elements into her pieces, inspired by Brice Marden’s Cold Mountain series.

Wiki links:

Posted by bigblue on 26/04/2009 at 09:23 AM
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Saturday, 25 April 2009
Cycling: Staffhurst Wood


My current cycle route takes me from Oxted to Godstone, ascends the North Down to Woldingham, then descends again to Westerham, then returns to Oxted via Limpsfield Chart and Staffhurst Wood. This wood is an ancient woodland (thousands of years old) and is a designated area of outstanding natural beauty. It provides me with interesting off-road paths with obstacles, such as the one pictured here.

Posted by bigblue on 25/04/2009 at 06:39 PM
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Friday, 24 April 2009
Oxted: Bamn bamn


Previously I have guessed that this stands for by any means necessary. Of course I’m guessing.

I am also not sure whether this graffiti on the Oxted viaduct was done recently or as part of the previous “spate” I reported on.

Posted by bigblue on 24/04/2009 at 09:43 AM
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Wednesday, 22 April 2009
Church and Coffee


News in the Surrey Herald is that The Chertsey Bookshop (recently closed) faces a potential take-over by the local church St Peter’s, who have said it was a good meeting place

Which raises a number of unasked questions: Is the church itself not a good meeting place? Evidently not because it stands empty most of the time. But does the church really need another site, 100 metres down the road to provide a meeting place? I also remember the exhorbitant price of a sandwich and coffee in The Chertsey Bookshop the last time I was there and wonder if the new owners would reduce prices by using voluntary low/unpaid labour? After all the volunteers would presumably be performing a community service and the church is a non-profit organisation.

The story is here but there are no questions asked.

Posted by bigblue on 22/04/2009 at 10:49 PM
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Tuesday, 21 April 2009


I must keep an eye on this graffiti that appeared in the A25 subway. It looks like it could be developing. It appeared recently on the wall that had been painted with white paint to cover rude writing.

Posted by bigblue on 21/04/2009 at 10:39 PM
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Sunday, 19 April 2009
Constable Savage

I’d been planning to post from my cycle ride today but I’m suffering from some kind of cold (perhaps hayfever induced) so I’ll just post this poignant reminder of how far we’ve come since the days of the SPG.  But as Richard Lawson recently wrote:

The Special Patrol Group was a crack unit of the Metropolitan Police who specialised in public order offences from 1965 until 1986, when, after beating Blair Peach to death and being found in possession of illegal weapons, it was punished by having its name changed to the Territorial Support Group (TSG). Now it finds itself in slightly lukewarm water after one of its members made an unprovoked assault on Ian Tomlinson, contributing to his death, and another for hitting a woman first with his hand and then with his baton.

A rational government that upholds the rule of law and values the people as the ultimate source of power in a democracy would order a thorough review of the TSG. In particular, they would view all the CCTV and citizens’ footage of the G20 demonstrations, to observe the behaviour of the TSG, who are identifiable from the blue markings on their shoulders and upper chest. In particular, they would look to see whether their interventions quelled angry crowd behaviour or had the opposite effect.

Members of the unit would also be screened by being hooked up to a polygraph and exposed to images and key words to see if they respond to right wing triggers.

As things stand in UK plc 2009, the best we can reasonably expect is a change of name for the unit. Suggestions in the comment slot please.

Posted by bigblue on 19/04/2009 at 10:38 PM
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Saturday, 18 April 2009
Taking photographs is not allowed


Upon reflection the above is a self-portrait. It is also a museum-piece in Berlin: a poster which states

Taking photos is not allowed

in several languages. It is a reminder of the cold-war regime in East Germany which was maintained by the Stasi. It reminded me of the police state that I used to live in: where unjust laws and arbitrary police powers were used to maintain an unjust status quo. While I think it is spurious to equate East Germany or apartheid South Africa with the United Kingdom today, there are certain comparisons to be made.

As recently as 2001 it was regarded as “a bit of a joke” that a group of British plane-spotters could be arrested in Greece on suspicion of spying (even if it was a “Greek tragedy” for those involved) . The United Kingdom collectively looked down her nose at the sub-standard democrazy of Greece. It could never have happened here. Yet today not too dissimilar events are actually happening here in the UK.

I won’t go into all the things that I find disturbing. In August 2007 our man inside wrote about the creeping appearance of the police state in Britain today, and this covers several areas.

Just consider the practical application of some of the laws that were introduced in the UK in the war against terrorism:

Some of this would be mildly amusing in a democratic state if it weren’t for some of the consequences.

Posted by bigblue on 18/04/2009 at 04:05 PM
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