Make room for Andrea Leadsom!

The New Prime Minister makes it very clear that she is efficient- she had appointed the key members of her cabinet within an hour of kissing hands in Buckingham palace. One of those appointments, Boris Johnson, has sent shockwaves around the world but I think I have already explained for a Turkish outlet precisely why Boris over-egged the “Leave” omelette and why that was such an important thing to do if he was to deny Farage his place at a future Cabinet table- to me, Boris will always be the man who took one for the team, and he did it with a panache no one could ever rival.


Boris is not just the thinking-man’s Farage, he is quite simply, “thinking man”. Farage, once thought necessary to anyone’s plan for Brexit, like any unwanted ingredient, like rancid butter, has been consigned to the bin of history.

Mrs May also makes a stab at a smile, but it all looks a bit forced. For that reason, I hope she will find room for Andrea Leadsom on her team. Andrea demonstrated last weekend that she is deeply human and the mistake she may or may not have made in no way disqualifies her for high office. I think she could show the humanity of the Cabinet. We need a few tears and we need someone to gleefully explain how to vote twice, or, indeed, to observe that getting a room to meet a Telegraph interviewer at the local hotel might perhaps be misinterpreted. I do not share many of Mrs Leadsom’s views but I have grown to like what she stands for more and more over the last week.



Ubiquitous Mann

A few weeks’ ago, I wrote about the appalling Ken Livingstone’s rewrite of history and the failure of the BBC to correct the faulty facts. The BBC is unrepentant but Livingstone looks set to explore the wilderness at last. The man behind the exposure was John Mann, who called Livingstone a “nazi apologist”, and who had also attacked Livingstone earlier as a “bigot” when the ex-Mayor had pointed out that he thought the shadow Defence Minister Kevan Jones might “need psychiatric help”. This is what Livingstone said, “I think he might need some psychiatric help. He’s obviously very depressed and disturbed … He should pop off and see his GP before he makes these offensive comments.” It is very much a Livingstone put-down. Livingstone suggested that his spat with Mann, however, went back to his failure to campaign for Mann in Oldham during the general election. Another typical swipe. But well done, Mann!

It all seems a bit personal, of course. When the two of them were on the radio, Livingstone said, “You’re on the radio and TV all the time, criticising what this party leadership is doing. All the time.” mm. It is an Edward Lear instance of the pot bashing the kettle.

And in response, Mann said this,

“You are a bully attacking Kevan Jones. Your language is appalling. You’re a bigot. You’ve failed to apologise … Even today, you’re failing to do so.” whereupon David Mellor butted in and added, “Can listeners kindly be reminded that these are two members of the Labour party who’ve been discussing their love for one another.”

However, Livingstone has a point. Whenever he knocks him down, Mr Mann keeps popping up like some sort of puppet- but the issues are so much bigger than a punch and judy booth.

john Mann

I think Mann looks alot like Neil Morrissey of “Men Behaving Badly” fame.

Mr Mann is also the MP who blew the whistle on abuse in Westminster, amid lurid tales of child strangulation in the 1980s. This, in turn, led to the hounding of Leon Brittan and Edward Heath. Unfortunate: stories have been leaking for years about the former PM but I think the idea that such an introverted man was involved in any groups is absurd, lurid and foundless. De Mortuis nil nisi bonum. Today, Mr Mann has announced that he is voting against his party for Brexit. I suppose that says rather more about Mr Corbyn’s lacklustre leadership than it says about Mr Mann’s ability to grab headlines.

The Edward Lear project “Following Lear”

On Friday I did an interview for local radio about the Lear project. This is the first time I have done anything for this beyond the few exhibitions. It has been, now, nearly 10 years in development so it is well-worth talking about and here are some sketches in preparation for Lear’s most famous poem that closes the documentary. More, undoubtedly, about this later on!

owl designs 3


Remembering Gallipoli is a local issue too


Today is Anzac day and a few years’ ago I was making a film about the Gallipoli landings in 1915, so it is very moving to watch the various ceremonies in the cemeteries on the Gallipoli peninsular and at the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

lear copy GallipoliGallipoliHere is a picture of the town of Gallipoli as it is today and my copy of the drawing made by Edward Lear in 1848 of the same view. The town was a major stop-off point for British ships on the way to the Crimean war.

While the 1915 campaign is often thought to be an Australian and New Zealand tragedy, which it undoubtedly is, there was a huge contingent of Lancashire troops.

gallipoli campaign

There was also a Northampton Saints rugby player who lost his life in the Gallipoli campaign, His name was Blair Inskip Swannell and he was killed on the first day of the campaign. He…

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sojourn in Albania

I am not sure I have posted this, but rather remarkably there is an article in the Albanian Encyclopedia of Art about me and about what we are doing on the Edward lear Project. I think we are now approaching the 10th year of working on this and last year we were filming in Corfu, where Lear was very happy. I am not so sure he was ever truly content, but he made others so. Just check out the story where he reduces the young Bey of Durres to giggles without either understanding a common word. Maybe that is one way to get through life, isn’t it?

Last year at Easter it rained and the procession with the brass band disbanded at the last minute in a scene that was unutterably mediterranean…

albanian encyclopedia

Gazi Ahmet Pasa Camii

the ottoman troops drag their ships across the land to attack the bay and made the wall of the Golden Horn vulnerable to attack. This was followed 7 days later by building a bridge between Ayvansaray and Sutluce. On the same day, the emperor rejected an offer of peace. It was a month later before Ulubatli Hasan erected the Ottoman flag on the Byzantine wall in Belgradkapi and towards noon on 29th May, the city fell and the Emperor was killed. The first act of Fatih Sultan Mehmed II was to turn Hagia Sophia into a Mosque

Gazi ahmet pasa camii fisrst

Gazi ahmet pasa mosque istanbul

Gazi ahmet pasa mosque istanbul2

gazi ahmet pasa camii 3

Finished picture:

gazi ahmet pasa camii finished

This is a mosque in Fatih district in Istanbul, in the area that is named after the Column of Constantine, called “Çemberlitaş” and built by Sinan.This is part of the traditional and authentic Constantinople Proper and is enclosed by the wall, and close to one of the main sites where the wall was breached by the Turks in the conquest in 1453.

This is one of the background images we shall use in our film “Following Lear” It is also an image we are using in a series of cards we are preparing for the Istanbul council.

fatih Bellini

(22nd April: the ottoman troops drag their ships across the land to attack the bay and made the wall of the Golden Horn vulnerable to attack. This was followed 7 days later by building a bridge between Ayvansaray and Sutluce. On the same day, the emperor rejected an offer of peace. It was a month later before Ulubatli Hasan erected the Ottoman flag on the Byzantine wall in Belgradkapi and towards noon on 29th May, the city fell and the Emperor was killed. The first act of Fatih Sultan Mehmed II was to turn Hagia Sophia into a Mosque.)

The pictures above show the progress in drawing. The pictures below show the interior and architectural plans

Istanbul, Gazi Ahmet Pasa Mosque 3 northwest balcony Istanbul, Gazi Ahmet Pasa Mosque floorplan from the age of Sinan

47639515_mps6HJQECD6MZP5YNcHOHUMiSVFKqahkB6GLZdCgCKIinsidesigninside 2inside 3minaret night

Edward Lear, Sunset on the Nile, above Aswan (1871)

One of the many pictures Lear did on his later trip down the Nile in Egypt. (1871)

lear and Howard Carter

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Edward Lear, Sunset on the Nile, above Aswan.
Signed with monogram (lower left); bears exhibition label and inscribed, signed and dated ‘On the Nile/Edward Lear/1871’ (verso). Oil on canvas. 24 x 47cm (9 7/16 x 18 1/2in).

Purchased directly from the artist in 1871 by Ernest Noel (1831-1931), M.P. for Dumfries Burghs 1874 to 1886.
Audrey Baillie Theron (neé Noel).
Jacqueline Marie Malcolm (neé Theron).
Thence by direct descent to the current owner.

Ernest Noel befriended Edward Lear when they were both passengers on a journey down the Nile in Egypt. It is thought Noel commissioned the current lot on the basis of sketches he had watched Lear execute during the voyage.
Lear made his first trip to Egypt in 1849. He expressed his excitement about the upcoming trip in a letter to another close friend, Lord Fortescue:
“the contemplation of Egypt must fill the mind, the artistic mind I mean, with…

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Edward Lear Drops Holman Hunt’s Letters (An Unpublished Letter)

lear drops letter1

Here is an interesting Lear-based story about an unpublished letter. Holman Hunt encouraged Lear to paint in the open air and to use a more interesting range of colours. Lear was encouraged by Hunt but eventually retreated back into the studio to paint. His drawings were done with great speed as he travelled.

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The following is a note Edward Lear sent to William Holman Hunt explaining what happened to two of Hunt’s letters Lear was supposed to post from London. There is a short reference to the accident in today’s diary entry (19.ix.64):

3 PM. 19. Sept. /64
Stratford Place.

My dear Daddy,

I was miserably vexed this morning at what happened to your letters ― tho’ as no harm has come of my mishap you may forgive me. In taking out a letter from my jacket ^[front] pocket, I took out 2 of yours by mistake, & replaced them inadvertently in the similar pocket of my overcoat. This latter, finding myself too warm in walking, I took off, not supposing there was anything in the pockets, but unfortunately the 2 letters fell out, & were ― luckily, ― picked up by the man who brought down my luggage ― who…

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