Archive for March, 2009|Monthly archive page

Tate TWO

In Museum [Insider], Museums, new content on March 31, 2009 at 2:22 pm

It’s almost as if the Tate brand can’t stop expanding. St Ives, Liverpool, Tate Modern. Now planning proposals are in to build a huge extension on the back of the Bankside site, to create vast new public spaces and areas for display. As ever, I’ve written a piece about it on Museum [Insider].


V&A plans to expand?

In Museum [Insider], Museums, new content on March 27, 2009 at 1:08 pm

The V&A in London is perhaps going to follow suit with other national museums and open a branch in the provinces. Tate went to Liverpool and St Ives; the Imperial War Museum went to Manchester; and the National Maritime Museum went to Falmouth.

Now the national museum of art and design is considering opening a branch in Dundee. The proposed idea is wouldn’t be owned by the V&A, but it would take blockbuster exhibitions from there and show them to a Scottish audience.

Plans also propose close collaboration with local artists and universities, with artist in residence schemes planned to run continuously. It’d be a great addition to the Scottish arts scene.

There’s a new piece about it on Museum [Insider].

Ten steps to the good life

In happiness, Uncategorized, what i'm reading on March 25, 2009 at 6:46 pm

A piece in The Independent today pointed out that we live in a frenetic, throwaway society and that we don’t take enough time to do things slowly and really enjoy them. They suggest the good life – the elusive happiness we all crave, apparently – can be achieved through celebrating ten simple pleasures of life.

How many of these have you done recently? I wonder if this is the path to happiness:

Roasting a chicken – the smell, the slow cooking, the crispy skin. And the accopanying trimmings.

Going for a walk – recharge the batteries through exercise and appreciate your local area.

Caring for clothes – a sense of achievement through fixing something rather than buying new.

Cleaning the windows – let the Spring sunshine into your home.

Servicing the car – er, like the clothes, I suppose. Not sure it would make me that happy.

Baking a cake – the smell, the satisfaction, the icing. And a cup of tea with it.

Making sloe gin – expectation as it matures in the bottle infront of your eyes.

Reading a map – I don’t understand this one. Just use google.

Brewing a cup of coffee – another aroma one. They like smelly things don’t they?

Or just doing nothing – personally, I find this one terribly irritating.

I can see where they’re going with these ten steps, but I’m not sure they’re necessarily a recipe for happiness. And it’s not a great path to the good life if you’re a wheat intolerant, sober, vegetarian, caffeine-free cyclist who lives in a windowless space and hates baking – but there’s got to be something that makes you happy.

Hepworth Wakefield

In Museum [Insider], Museums, new content on March 21, 2009 at 3:27 pm

Wakefield is to get a new multi-million pound art gallery devoted to the work of iconic British sculptor Barbara Hepworth. I wrote a piece about the development and what we can expect there for Museum [Insider].

Edward Alleyn Theatre

In Dulwich OnView on March 17, 2009 at 6:35 pm

A piece on Dulwich OnView about a new multi-million pound theatre in Dulwich at Alleyn’s School. The building won’t only be used by the school, but is also going to be made available to community organisations. Great news for us in Dulwich.

Here’s the article.

A. A. Milne on happiness

In happiness, what i'm reading on March 15, 2009 at 2:50 pm

I was just reliving some childhood memories, flicking through the A. A. Milne’s When we were very young, when I came across one of those nuresery poems that rings a bell, but I don’t know why. The title jumped out at me, obviously, but I wonder what the message of the poem is? As with all Milne poems, the line-spacing is important, so I’ve copied it here:


John had
Great Big
Boots on;
John had a
Great Big
John had a
Great Big
Mackintosh –
And that
(Said John)

Are conservatives really happier than liberals?

In happiness, Uncategorized, what i'm reading on March 7, 2009 at 7:52 am

Some interesting research about political motivation and happiness from Syracuse University. Prof Arthur Brookes claims in his book Gross National Happiness that conservatives report significantly higher levels of personal happiness than liberals.

Increased happiness in conservatives is not necessarily down to their individual politics, but is linked to contributing life factors. They are are statistically more likely to be married, go to church, and be optimistic about their future – things we know boost personal happiness. For liberals, the rates of happiness are somewhat lower. The author suggests that the liberal equity agenda, while completely honorable, takes a stronger personal toll and contributes to a life with more questions asked than answered. Liberals are more likely to have less smooth home lives, when compared to their conservative counterparts. There’s an interview with the author here.

It’s important to remember most studies like this reporting levels of happiness have collected data via personal response questionnaires. So, in fact it’s more a case of conservatives reporting that they are happier, rather than actually being happy in themselves. For me, this research perhaps means two things:

-1- Conservatives say they are happier than liberals. Is that because they truly are happier (they do appear to have very settled lives) or is it because they feel they ought to say they are happier and living the American dream?

-2- The research shows that liberals report lower happiness levels because they have a more challenging lives. They are less likely to have as much family stability and they have that oh-so cumbersome liberal agenda to which they feel they ought to contribute. It might just be me, but I think living a life with an open liberal agenda that doesn’t mean being tied down to a family, a dog and a church sounds rather fun.

Aristotle asks us whether we would rather be a pig satisfied or a man dissatisfied? To be honest, as much as I crave the perceived stability and wealth of the right, I think I’d rather be a dissatisfied liberal than a satisfied conservative. But that’s just me.

Transforming the Ashmolean Museum

In Museum [Insider], Museums, new content on March 6, 2009 at 1:06 pm

The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford was the first ever public museum (opened 1683). It’s had a long and prestigious career. But the current building is not fit for purpose in the 21st century, so they’ve decided to give it a face lift. From the outside it will look pretty much the same, but the interior is in the process of being extensively overhauled, including the interpretation.

Here’s an article I wrote about the transformation of the museum for Museum [Insider].

Blind happiness

In happiness, new content on March 4, 2009 at 9:48 pm

Here’s a new interview I completed recently with Deano Dunbar, an extreme sports enthusiast. He’s been fired as a human catapult¬† and had stomach-turning advenures all over the world. He’s also registered blind. He told me what happiness means to him.