El Sistema

What a wonderful concept! BBC’s Imagine had a program and reported about El Sistema in Venezuela; a scheme that provides children with free musical instruments and tuition in an attempt to re-socialise and improve the impoverished and disadvantaged. They put the fun back in learning music, too, because they don’t make the kids go through years of learning and practising an instrument prior to joining an orchestra. Instead, the children join the orchestra, and learn there and then.

One of the first pieces performed, they told us, is Tchaikovsky’s 4th. Not because it’s particularly easy, but because it is not particularly easy.

A very stimulating report from Venezuela. Great to see that the Venezuelean scheme has been adopted by Sistema Scotland, also known as The Big Noise. Please support them, if you get a chance.


Bringing Her Home

Bringing Her Home (Detail)
I was going to call her A Bark Barque, but then I found out that a true barque has three masts, with square sails on the first two and a jigger on the third. I call it Bringing Her Home instead.

I guess I could write about the vibrant colour and the pleasure of returning to true painting after quite some while, or about the memorable day in Scotland, many years ago, when we made an entire fleet of bark ships (possibly even including a barque), but I’m not going to do that. Instead, I simply hope that you like it.

Bringing Her Home.
Oil with turpentine and dammar on canvas, 16×20"

Click here
, or the thumbnail, to reveal the complete picture.

A Wee Contradiction

Lochcarron, Western Ross, Scotland, has a wee camp site.

The lovely waitress invited us to have a wee look at the dessert menu.

Other things were also wee. However, whenever we had a wee look around, we found most things around us grandiose on a rather large scale: the valleys and mountains are by no means small, neither is the sea, or the clouds, or the portions of food served. Only the midges were small indeed, f* little bastards.

Is there a wee word for all things grand and grandiose?

[Edit] Oops its midges, not midgets. [/Edit]

Carnegie Hall

I went to Carnegie Hall last Friday. OK, not quite. Just Carnegie House, or to be perfectly correct, the Carnegie Public Library.

I hadn’t known until then that the very same Andrew Carnegie of Carnegie Hall also funded well over a thousand public libraries (the Carnegie Libraries) after he sold his enterprise for $480 million back in 1902. So, Brentford and Hanwell both got their public library from him.

Interesting little local finding.

Andrew Carnegie, to quite Wikipedia, is known for having, later in his life, given away most of his
riches to fund the establishment of many libraries, schools, and
universities in Scotland, America and worldwide.