Section: Arts/Humanities

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Immersive theatre at its most intense: To Refuge

Rachel Marshall

I just spent 45 minutes sitting in a bunker in central Exeter listening to sirens and bombs. This was Four Of Swords Theatre’s performance To Refuge, based around a work by Ukrainian playwright Elena Hapieieva: In the Bowels of the Earth. It was immersive theatre at its most intense. The performance takes place under The […]

The joys of printing and XR

Leslie Tate
Tree of life

I interviewed Stroud-based printmaker and artist Nat Morley about her unique processes, her protest art and her time spent with Barrel Well Aboriginal Community, Australia. Nat was a prize-winning geographer at Oxford University, sings with Tewkesbury Abbey choir, and her artwork is on permanent display at the Cotswold Craftsmen Gallery in Nailsworth. Leslie: What are the main artistic medium/areas you work in? […]

The man behind Operation Mincemeat

Mick Fletcher

The film ‘Operation Mincemeat’ released over the Easter weekend, tells the exciting story of a key event in the second World War. The Germans were tricked into thinking that an attack on Europe from North Africa would start in Greece rather than the more obvious route through Sicily. Historian Hugh Trevor-Roper called it “The most […]

Don’t miss the Tinners Moon Festival, Ashburton, Devon!

Anthea Simmons

We wrote about the wonderful Ashburton Arts Centre back in October 2020 and director Andy Williamson explained why the venue was so loved by performers. The Tinners Moon Festival, which had had to be cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, is in full swing right now and you really shouldn’t miss the opportunity to […]

Proof of incompetence: the Channel 4 debacle

Mark Davyd

Regular readers of my Facebook posts will know that it is my position that this current government is dangerous because of its incompetence. I recognise that many of you find them to be cruel, or their policies deliberately designed towards the vicious and unnecessary, but my own experience is that they haven’t got a clue […]

Dante’s Divine Comedy: tasting notes 7 – seduction by literature

Simon Chater
Rodin's 'The Kiss'

Among the carnal sinners in the second circle of hell, we meet Paolo and Francesca. Of all the stories in the Inferno, theirs is perhaps the one that most invites our empathy: the seventh of Simon Chater’s dips into Dante. Dante’s scene-setting is a powerful example of contrapasso ­– the idea that the punishment should […]

Au revoir to au pairs from Europe?

Tamsin Beadman
white black and brown hands on EU flag

“Carrero Blanco was blown up two streets away,” Isabel, my señora, mentioned casually on a chilly Madrid afternoon in December 1983 as we sat in her luxurious flat on Calle Hermosilla. “Have you heard of him? Ten years ago today, ETA blew up his car in Claudio Coello and it flew right over a church. […]

Dante’s Divine Comedy: tasting notes 5 – the gate of hell

Simon Chater
gateway to Hell

Led by Virgil, Dante sets out on his journey. At the entrance to hell he sees these words inscribed over a dark gateway: The famous line here is the last, wryly quoted today in many a workplace and home. The absence of hope is the defining feature of hell, as anyone stuck in a dead-end […]

Elite sixth forms: a class idea?

Mick Fletcher
sixth formers in parliament

In a desperate attempt to divert attention from the mess in Downing Street, the government recently announced a flurry of ill-considered ’new’ policies. One was a proposal to develop a cadre of “elite sixth forms” which would “ensure talented children from disadvantaged backgrounds have access to the highest standard of education this country offers.” I […]

Dante’s Divine Comedy: tasting notes 4

Simon Chater
Dante's Inferno colour plate from early edition

Enter Virgil, voice of reason Continuing his series of dips into Dante, Simon Chater begins the descent into hell and finds some interesting parallels between Dante’s Florence and the world in 2022. Reason, sweet reason! How we – or some of us, at least – long for you in the age of Brexit, Trumpism and […]

Egyptian artefacts and enchanted arbours at Kingston Lacy

Valery Collins
Illuminated trees at Kingston Lacy

During the medieval period, the grand estate known as Kingston Lacy was part of a royal estate within the manor of Wimborne in Dorset. The manor house stood to the north of the present palazzo, close to a deer park. Supporters of the Crown were allowed to let the estate. After it was sold at […]

A scientist’s homage to the creative artist

Colin White

Once again, it would appear the government is revisiting its plans, first mooted towards the start of this year, to limit the number of students studying what they deem to be inappropriate courses. Courses which they consider unlikely to create instant taxable wealth for the exchequer, and/or to lead to solid, reliable starting salaries which […]

Closing doors: Brexit and TEFL teaching in Spain

Helen Johnston

West Country Voices has recently highlighted how Brexit is affecting the language teaching sector in the UK, with dire impacts on school trips abroad and on the TEFL sector in the UK. Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) has also, for many years, provided many British people with an opportunity to move abroad, selling […]

English language teaching: a troubled future?

Conor Niall O'Luby

The pandemic The ‘Teaching English as a Foreign Language’ (TEFL) sector has for decades played a vibrant cultural and economic role across the UK, not just in the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) area. The spring and, especially, the summer seasons, used to see large numbers of foreign students arrive to study English, make new […]

School trips abroad: the “Grand Tour”, blighted by Brexit

Mike Zollo

Cultural osmosis For many decades, visits, homestays and courses abroad in the country of the ‘target language’ have been considered essential to the study of a foreign language, both for UK young people going abroad and for young EU nationals coming to the UK. Indeed, this is nothing new: human beings have always travelled, mixed […]

Tuned out: Performing Rights Society gets it wrong

Richard Wilkins

During the Covid-19 lockdown, online exercise and dance classes became a staple part of many people’s lives. As well as keeping us physically fit and healthy, they helped provide social interaction which supported mental wellbeing. Unable to offer face-to-face classes, exercise and dance instructors had needed to embrace online platforms such as Zoom or MS […]

Williamson’s Latin in schools wheeze…just another feles mortuus?

Valerie Huggins

I wake up to yet another ‘dead cat’ announcement from the hapless Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson: “Let them learn Latin” he declares in a £4m Latin Excellence pilot scheme to teach the language in 40 schools. It is not unreasonable for all those concerned in the difficult task of creating and maintaining an education system […]

Cuts to arts courses: strategic missteps and myopia

Virginia Button
protest placard "Save the Arts"

Towards the end of my first year as an undergraduate in 1979 I desperately wanted to switch to my subsidiary subject, art history. I had no idea that this even existed as a degree course when I applied to university, but it proved to be a mind-blowing, intellectually rigorous course of study that ignited a […]

Dartington Hall Trust and the dodgy dossier

Georgina Allen

In their first response to complaints submitted, the Information Commission Office (ICO) has ruled that Dartington Hall Trust violated data protection laws in their creation of a list of campaigners. Nearly a year ago now, the BBC and then the Times reported on a ‘Black List’ that Dartington Hall Trust (DHT) had created of people […]

Adieu Erasmus, bonjour Turing? A French perspective

Geneviève Talon

The celebrated Erasmus Plus programme started as a large-scale exchange programme for university students across the EU. It also provides grants for a wide range of activities, including the opportunity for students to undertake work placements abroad and for teachers and education staff to attend training courses. In 2018, the European Commission adopted an ambitious […]

Abandon hope all youth who grow up here

Sadie Parker

“Am I gonna sit here and say that Brexit is perfect, and your generation is gonna reap the benefits? No, I’m not, because you’re not, frankly, at the minute, and I can see that. We’ve got work to do…” So said Andrew Bowie, Conservative MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, addressing an audience of under-30-year-old […]

In conversation with David Nicholas Wilkinson: on making documentaries

Sadie Parker

Actor, producer, distributor and director David Nicholas Wilkinson is a regular fixture at the London Screenwriters’ Festival, generously sharing his experience with eager new writers and filmmakers. This year was no exception, although the format was different, of course, with everything online in one format or another. David chose to do his slot by Zoom, […]

The Hypatia Trust – celebrating and enabling women’s achievements in Penzance

Tillie Holmes

The Hypatia Trust is a charity based in Penzance, Cornwall, which strives to support women’s education and achievements. Named after the remarkable hellenistic neoplatonist mathematician, astronomer and philosopher, the trust was founded 25 years ago by Melissa Hardie . She initially set up the charity with the primary aim to protect, maintain, and develop the […]