The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden

There were a lot of aftershocks from the First World War, one of them was a widespread desire to escape the horrors and decadence of Europe. A book Forgotten Fatherland tells of the colony in Paraguay set up by Friedrich Nietzche’s sister Elizbeth, in fact a lot of Germans seem to have headed to South … Continue reading

Boyhood

This is a film I missed when it first came out so managed to catch it at the local art house. I love Richard Linklater’s films – they are firmly art house, and yet so much bigger. This one follows a young boy from childhood to leaving home for college, and was filmed with the … Continue reading

Spaniards Aping the Brits

London in the 18th century became the place to make money, but also to pick up new skills to take home and make money from. I recently discovered that while Harrison was working on his famous Longtitude clock, he welcomed people to come and view it, despite the fact that he was chasing the huge … Continue reading

Hogarth on Vaucanson

When the French inventor/mechanic/clever clogs Jacques de Vaucanson came to London in 1743 to display his incredible automata – as reported in a previous blog – his duck, flute player and tabor player were all the talk of the town. It was shown at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket. Nobody had ever seen such life-like machinery, … Continue reading

Humphrey Gainsborough

The painter Thomas Gainsborough was, like Sir Joshua Reynolds, part of the first wave of talented painters to emerge in mid 18th century Britain. But Gainsborough was self taught, and his two brothers were extremely talented inventors, especially Humphrey. This is from ‘John Joseph Merlin The Ingenious Mechanick’: ‘If James watt’s name is today a … Continue reading

The Necessity of Art

This book by Ernst Fisher comes with an introduction by the wonderful pioneering art historian John Berger, so is a wonderful find. It seems that as long as there have been humans, we have been making art of some form, so the title seems particularly apt. If it’s not essential to us, why do we … Continue reading

The Most Important Battle of World War I?

In a few weeks, on 9 November, it will be 100 years since the battle happened which could have changed the world, and yet efforts to have it commemorated have failed to raise much interest. This is the date that the Australian navy’s first light cruiser, the HMAS Sydney, began a running sea battle with … Continue reading