Lou Reed (The Velvet Underground)

Velvet_Underground_and_NicoLou Reed, the founder of The Velvet Underground passed away at the age of 71 on 27 October 2013. Born Lewis Allan Reed in Brooklyn, New York in 1942, Lou Reed developed an ear for rhythm and blues, forming several bands while still in high school after teaching himself to play guitar simply by listening to the radio.Reed introduced avant garde rock to mainstream music and has been credited as having a significant impact on American culture.His collaboration with famed pop artist and mentor Andy Warhol is legendary and perhaps one of the most important pairings of this centuryBest known as the founder, guitarist and lead singer/songwriter of 1960s band The Velvet Underground, the star went on to have an illustrious solo career, with hits such as ‘Walk On the Wild side ‘. He was married to Laurie Anderson

The Velvet Underground were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 1996 and have long been recognised as a major musical influence on punk and art rock, as reflected in a quote often attributed to musician Brian Eno: “The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band.”After making his name with the Velvet Underground and becoming part of Andy Warhol’s Factory scene in New York, Although the Velvet Underground never achieved great commercial success, their idosyncratic combination of harsh guitars and smooth melodies sung by Reed or the German model Nico proved enduring and have garnered a cult following. Warhol incorporated the Velvet Underground’s music into his Exploding Plastic Inevitable multimedia events, with Reed revealing that Andy As a songwriter, Reed broke new ground by writing songs about taboo subjects as S&M, transvestites and transsexuals, prostitution, and drug addiction.

Following his departure from The Velvet Underground in 1970, ‘Reed began a successful solo career spanning several decades and went on to record a series of seminal and sometimes challenging solo albums including Transformer, Berlin and Metal Machine Music and collaborated with many artists over the course of his career, including David Bowie, Antony and the Johnsons and Kate McGarrigle. Throughout his life He also remained an avid and interesting artist, branching out into photography and released two books of his work, ‘Emotions in Action’ and ‘Lou Reed’s New York.’

Tawny Owl (Strix Aluco)

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Tawny Owl (Strix Aluco)

Recently I was lucky enough to see some visiting owls from a nearby Owl Sanctuary, including a Barn Owl, Tawny Owl and Little Owl. This is The Tawny Owl or brown owl (Strix aluco), a stocky, medium-sized owl which is commonly found in woodlands across much of Eurasia. Its underparts are pale with dark streaks, and the upperparts are either brown or grey. Several of the eleven recognised subspecies have both variants. The nest is typically in a tree hole where it can protect its eggs and young against potential predators. This owl is non-migratory and highly territorial. Many young birds starve if they cannot find a vacant territory once parental care ceases.

This nocturnal bird of prey hunts mainly rodents, usually by dropping from a perch to seize its prey, which it swallows whole; in more urban areas its diet includes a higher proportion of birds. Vision and hearing adaptations and silent flight aid its night hunting. The tawny owl is capable of catching smaller owls, but is itself vulnerable to the eagle owl or Northern goshawk. Although many people believe this owl has exceptional night vision, its retina is no more sensitive than a human’s. Rather, it is its asymmetrically placed ears that are key to its hunting because they give the tawny owl excellent directional hearing. Its nocturnal habits and eerie, easily imitated call, have led to a mythical association of the tawny owl with bad luck and death (which in the case of rodents is usually well founded ).

Little Owl (Athene Noctua)

Little Owl (Athene)

Little Owl (Athene Noctua)

The Little owl (Athene noctua) is a small owl, usually 22 centimetres (8.7 in) tall with a wingspan of 56 centimetres (22 in) for both sexes, and weighs about 180 grams (6.3 oz), which inhabits much of the temperate and warmer parts of Europe, Asia east to Korea, and north Africa. It was also successfully introduced to the South Island of New Zealand in the early 20th century. This species is among the larger grouping of owls that is known as typical owls, Strigidae, which contains most species of owl. The other grouping is the barn owls, Tytonidae.

The little owl was sacred to the goddess Athena, from whom it gets the generic name and is one of the most widely-distributed owls, due to its adaptability to human settlements and small size. This makes it among the world’s most populous owl species. The Little Owl is a sedentary species which is found in open country such as mixed farmland and parkland and has an average life expectancy of three years . It takes prey such as insects, earthworms, amphibians, but also small birds and mammals. It can attack birds of considerable size like game birds. It is partly diurnal and often perches boldly and prominently during the day.

It becomes more vocal in nights as the breeding season approaches. Nest location varies based on the habitat, nests being found in holes in trees, rocks, cliffs, river banks, walls, buildings etc. It lays 3-5 eggs which are incubated by the female for 28–29 days, with a further 26 days to fledging. Little Owls will also nest in buildings, both abandoned and those fitted with custom owl nest boxes. If living in an area with a large amount of human activity, little owls may grow used to man and will remain on their perch, often in full view, while humans are around

The adult little owl of the most widespread form, the nominate A. n. noctua, is white-speckled brown above, and brown-streaked white below. It has a large head, long legs, and yellow eyes, and its white “eyebrows” give it a stern expression. This species has a bounding flight like a woodpecker. Juveniles are duller, and lack the adult’s white crown spots. The call is a querulous kee-ik. There is also a pale grey-brown Middle Eastern type known as the Syrian little owl (A. n. lilith). Other forms include another pale race, the north African A. n. desertae, and three intermediate subspecies, A. n. indigena of southeast Europe and Asia Minor, A. n. glaux in north Africa and southwest Asia, and A. n. bactriana of central Asia. A 2009 paper in the ornithological journal Dutch Birding (vol. 31: 35-37, 2009) has advocated splitting the southeastern races as a separate species, Lilith’s owl (Athene glaux), with subspecies A. g. glaux, A. g. indigena, and A. g. lilith.

Samuel Morse

Samuel Morse The American contributor to the invention of a single-wire telegraph system and co-inventor of the Morse code, was born 27th April in 1791 in Charlestown Massachusetts he attended the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, after which he went on to Yale College where he studied religious philosophy, mathematics and science of horses. While at Yale, he also attended lectures on electricity from Benjamin Silliman and Jeremiah Day, and In 1810, he graduated from Yale with Phi Beta Kappa honours.

Samuel Morse was also an accomplished painter and whilst at Yale He supported himself financially by painting. He expressed some of his beliefs in his painting “Landing of the Pilgrims”, through the depiction of simple clothing as well as the people’s austere facial features. His image captured the psychology of the Federalists; Calvinists from England brought to North America ideas of religion and government, thus linking the two countries. This work also attracted the attention of the notable artist Washington Allston. Later Morse accompanied Allstone on a three-year painting study in England, where he worked to perfect his painting techniques under Allston’s watchful eye. By the end of 1811, he gained admittance to the Royal Academy. He liked the Neo-classical art of the Renaissance particularly the works of Michelangelo and Raphael. After observing and practicing life drawing and absorbing its anatomical demands, the young artist produced his masterpiece, the Dying Hercules. Morse eventually left England on August 21, 1815, to return to the United States and begin his full-time career as a painter.

The years 1815–1825 marked significant growth in Morse’s paintings, as he sought to capture the essence of America’s culture and life. He painted the Federalist former President John Adams. He hoped to become part of grander projects. The Federalists and Anti-Federalists clashed over Dartmouth College. Morse painted portraits of Francis Brown — the college’s president — and Judge Woodward, who was involved in bringing the Dartmouth case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

However Between 1819 and 1821, Morse experienced great changes in his life, and his commissions decreased. Morse then moved to New Haven and was commissioned to paint the Hall of Congress and a portrait of the Marquis de Lafayette, who was a leading French supporter of the American Revolution. From 1830 to 1832, Morse traveled and studied in Europe to improve his painting skills, visiting Italy, Switzerland and France, Some of Morse’s paintings and sculptures are on display at his Locust Grove estate in Poughkeepsie, New York. During his time in Paris, he developed a friendship with the writer James Fennimore Cooper, and On a subsequent visit he also met Louis Daguerre and became interested in the latter’s daguerreotype — the first practical means of photography. In 1825, the city of New York Morse was commissioned to paint a portrait of Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette, in Washington.

Unfortunately whilst Morse was painting, a horse messenger delivered a letter from his father that read one line, “Your dear wife is convalescent”. Morse immediately left Washington for his home at New Haven, leaving the portrait of Lafayette unfinished. By the time he arrived, his wife had already been buried.  Heartbroken in the knowledge that for days he was unaware of his wife’s failing health and her lonely death, he moved on from painting to pursue a means of rapid long distance communication. On the sea voyage home in 1832, Morse encountered Charles Thomas Jackson of Boston, a man who was well schooled in electromagnetism. Witnessing various experiments with Jackson’s electromagnet, Morse developed the concept of a single-wire telegraph. However Morse encountered the problem of getting a telegraphic signal to carry over more than a few hundred yards of wire. His breakthrough came from the insights of Professor Leonard Gale, With Gale’s help, Morse introduced extra circuits or relays at frequent intervals and was soon able to send a message a distance of ten miles (16 km) of wire. This was the great breakthrough Morse had been seeking. Morse and Gale were soon joined by a young enthusiastic man, Alfred Vail, who had excellent skills, insights and money. At the Speedwell Ironworks in Morristown, New Jersey, Morse and Vail made the first public demonstration of the electric telegraph on January 11, 1838. and Today The original Morse telegraph, submitted with his patent application, is part of the collections of the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution

Morse sadly passed away on April 2nd 1872 at the age of 80, and is buried in the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. However his legacy lives on and his invention has changed the way people communicate long-distance. Morse code is still the primary language of telegraphy and is still the standard for rhythmic transmission of data.

International Animation Day

International Animation Day (IAD) is celebrated annually on October 28. It was proclaimed in 2002 by the ASIFA as the main global event to celebrate the art of animation. It commemorates the first public performance of Charles-Émile Reynaud’s Théâtre Optique at the Grevin Museum in Paris, 1892. In 1895, the Cinematograph of the Lumière brothers outshone Reynaud’s invention, driving Émile to bankruptcy. However, his public performance of animation entered the history of optical entertainments as shortly predating the camera-made movies.

In recent years, the event has been observed in more than 50 different countries with more than 1000 events, on every continent, all over the world. IAD was initiated by ASIFA, International Animated Film Association, a member of UNESCO. During International Animation Day cultural institutions are also invited to join in by screening animated films, organizing workshops, exhibiting artwork and stills, providing technical demonstrations, and organizing other events helping to promote the art of animation. Such a celebration is an outstanding opportunity of putting animated films in the limelight, making this art more accessible to the public.

ASIFA also commissions an artist to create an original art poster announcing the event each year. It is then adapted for each country in order to guarantee a worldwide view of the event. Previous editions involved the work of animators such as Iouri Tcherenkov, Paul Driessen, Abi Feijo, Eric Ledune, Noureddin Zarrinkelk, Michel Ocelot, Nina Paley, Raoul Servais, Ihab Shaker and Gianluigi Toccafondo. Full length animation films, historical features, animated shorts, and student films, all variety of animation art are shown in the workshops.These films display an extraordinary range of techniques – drawing, painting, animating puppets and objects, using clay, sand, paper, and computer. Because many animated films are non-verbal, it is a rich opportunity for cross cultural expression and communication.

The Big Butterfly Count

RedAdmiral3-1The Big Butterfly Count, takes place from Saturday, 19 July, to 10 August 2014. The aim is to survey Britain’s various butterflies and day-flying moths. It was launched in 2010 with the express aim of helping to assess the health of our environment and is supported by esteemed naturalist Sir David Attenborough

(Red Admiral – Inachis Io)

The idea of The Big Butterfly Count is for people to spend 15 minutes counting butterflies in their local area.The summer is chosen to carry out the count because most butterflies are at the adult stage of their lifecycle and so more likely to be seen out and about. As a general rule, butterflies react very quickly to change in their environment which makes them excellent “biodiversity indicators”, according to survey leaders the Butterfly Conservation charity. Butterflies recorded in any environment be it in parks, at school, in fields or in the garden, are all welcome.

Peacock4To carry out your count, spend 15 minutes during bright and preferably sunny weather and set yourself up in a fixed position. From there, count the maximum number of species that you can see at a single time. The numbers will help naturalists to identify trends in species and plan against extinction, as well as helping to better understand the effect of climate change on wildlife.

(Peacock Butterfly – Vanessa Atalanta)

RAF Cosford Museum