Sunday, March 31, 2013

TRUTH & LIES: an Arts and Health NEWS FLASH

Thanks to one sharp-eyed reader for sending me their copy of the Sun for todays blog!

...and thanks too, for these words of support from our new project sponsor - George Clooney.

Manchester Arts Gallery closed after degenerate hooligans smash paintings!

The Guardian reports...
“...when Manchester Art Gallery was due to close and few people were about, an attendant heard ‘crackings of glass’ coming from one of the Galleries.

Two attendants ran into the Gallery and found three women, Lilian Forrester, Annie Briggs, Evelyn Manesta, running round, cracking the glass of the biggest and most valuable pictures in the collections. It had been well planned. Nowhere else in the Gallery were hung so many famous pictures, so close together.

The Gallery doors were shut by the doorkeeper and the three women were caught . The Chief Constable and a superintendent took the women to the Town Hall for questioning. They were charged under the Malicious Damage Act, 1861, and released on bail until the next morning when they appeared before the Stipendiary Magistrate.”

Click on the BURN poster above for the full story. Additionally Jeanette Winterson writes on suffrage, Pussy Riot and the battles that remain to be fought.

Did you know, that whilst the media seems keen to point the finger at countries like Saudi Arabia where women don’t have the right to vote - closer to our cosy western homes, women can’t vote in the state of the Vatican City! Ahh the liberty that monotheism brings. 

Music is BAD for your health and well-being: or State Sponsored Bigotry?

Following the publication last year of its pocket-size guide on the ‘symptoms of homosexuality’, (don’t forget that there are handy camps to ‘correct effeminate behaviour’ too) the Malaysian Government has invested in a musical (hmmm) to warn young people about the perils of being lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) But first, let’s remind ourselves, how do we spot ‘em? This is what the Malaysian Government advise...keep your eyes peeled:

For gays:
  • Muscular body and a fondness for showing off the body by wearing clothing, such as by wearing V-necks and sleeveless tops
  • A preference for tight and bright coloured clothes
  • An inclination to be attracted to men
  • A tendency to carry big handbags, similar to the kinds used by women
For lesbians:
  • Showing attraction to women
  • Distancing themselves from women other than their girlfriends
  • A preference for hanging out, sleeping and dining with women
  • Absence of feelings for men
Really helpful stuff - You couldn't script it, could you? Asmara Songsang (Abnormal Desire) follows the lives of three LGBT friends who throw loud parties, take drugs and have casual sex, thereby incurring the wrath of their pious neighbours, who attempt to reintroduce them to religion. Those who repent are spared, while those who don't are killed in a lightning storm.

Rahman Adam, 73, who wrote and directed the musical, commented, "Children need to recognise that men are for women, and women are for men. They [LGBT] are all out to have homosexual and lesbian sex, and although right now it is not so serious [in Malaysia], we need to act, to do something, to say something, to say that this is bad and not to follow it."

And when it comes to ‘curing’ homosexuality, the mantle seems to have been passed back to religion following the failure of science to iron out this unsavoury variance in what it is to be human. It was only this year that one of psychiatry's most influential figures, Dr Robert Spritzer, co-author of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in the US, apologised to America's gay people for a scientific study looking at ‘reparative therapy’ supporting attempts to "cure" people of their homosexuality through medication and psychological treatments. Spitzer has since apologised, commenting, ‘I believe I owe the gay community an apology," his letter said. "I also apologise to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy because they believed that I had proven that reparative therapy works.’ Click on Pray your Gay Away for more on the Spitzer story.

This bigoted perspective isn’t something confined to Malaysia or the hallowed halls of American psychiatry, or the scare-mongering diktats of religion, it might be wrapped up in other ideologies, but in some of the Baltic states of Europe, this doctrine based on ignorance and hate, is still upheld. This is why it’s great to see the work of South African photographer Zanele Muholi who’s spent the last 10 years creating a visual archive of black lesbian life in South Africa and challenging entrenched attitudes. Muholi describes the huge contrasts for gay people in South Africa: on the one hand it has been enormously progressive and in 1996 became the first country in the world to constitutionally prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation; on the other, there is a culture of fear if you are gay, and serious hate crime is a huge problem, including "corrective" rape to "straighten out" lesbians. In the last year, four women have been murdered because of their sexuality. Click on the photograph below to find out more about Zanele Muholi.

The city that BANNED MUSIC 
hosts a music festival
Somalia’s capital  Mogadishu, held its first music festival in 25 years this week with Waayaha Cusub headlining. The collective, whose Shiine Akhyaar Ali was shot and left for dead by militants in 2007 are among artists from several countries playing the Mogadishu Festival, whose tour then moves on to Dadaab in north-eastern Kenya: the biggest refugee camp in the world. 

The things we could learn from other countries in the world eh? Do we need a Randomised Control Trial to understand how music might make people feel in a refugee camp like this? What a ridiculous thought. The people in these camps want safety, shelter, food, access to health care, education and some political stability - fundamental human rights. Music is in all our blood though - taking it away only makes the passion to create far, far stronger.

At the last count, there were 426,000 people living in Dadaab - can you imagine  the festival happening there? Powerful stuff and growing from the ground up. 

創造 = creation  想像 = imagination
OK...last comment for today. Souzou is an exhibition at the Wellcome Collection, that I’ve not seen yet, but that looks stunning.

The above are two meanings of the Japanese word souzou that allude to a force by which new ideas are born and take shape in the world. In the context of exhibition, Souzou refers to the practise of 46 self-taught artists living and working within social welfare facilities across Japan. In short, it’s an exhibition of what we now know as ‘outsider art,’ commonly used to describe work made by artists who have received little or no tuition but produce work for the sake of creation alone, without an audience in mind, and who are perceived to inhabit the margins of mainstream society. The artists in this exhibition have been diagnosed with a variety of different cognitive, behavioural and developmental disorders or mental illnesses, and are residents or day attendees of specialist care institutions.  
Nobuo Onishi
You can read all about it on their web pages and if you see the work before me, let me know what you think. I love that we talk about our mental health and wellbeing more and more. I love it that stigma around ill health is slowly being chipped away at. I also love to see art that is fresh and different, and that emerges from people outside the ‘market’ - but I wonder how much we exoticise ‘the marginalized’ like caged birds. I wonder how many of the people whose work is on show really wanted to exhibit their work and I wonder do we run the risk of using it as some apotropaic fetish?     

I for one, always enjoy the curation of the Wellcome exhibitions and I’m sure this will be a beautiful and informative show. Lets just hope it adds to our understanding of the diversity and similarity of what it is to be human - and how art helps us make sense of this one experience of life. 

Funding for International Youth Partnerships (UK)
Public and other not-for-profit organisations active in the field of youth services are being invited to apply for funding of up to €100,000 for projects promoting cooperation in the youth sector with eligible partner countries other than the neighbouring countries of the European Union (Latin America, Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific and Asia, etc). The funding is being made available through Action 3.2 of the EU’s Youth in Action programme. Preference will be given to those projects which best reflect the permanent priorities of the ‘Youth in Action’ programme, these are:
·  The participation of young people
·  Cultural diversity
·  European citizenship
·  Inclusion of young people with fewer opportunities.
Projects must involve partners from at least four different countries (including the applicant organisation), including at least two programme countries, of which at least one is a Member State of the European Union, and two partner countries. The closing date for applications is the 14th May 2013. Read more at:

Santander Community Plus Fund (UK)
The Santander Foundation has launched a new £1.23 million Community Plus fund to support charities helping local disadvantaged people across the UK. UK registered charities can apply for a grant of up to £5,000. The funding must be for a specific project that helps disadvantaged people. For example this could be for a piece of equipment or to pay for the costs of a part time sessional worker.

The only criteria for the Community Plus grants are:
·  The applicant must be a UK registered charity
·  The applicant must be a local charity or local project of a larger charity
·  The grant must benefit local disadvantaged people

To apply, just visit any Santander branch and complete a nomination form. The completed form should be dropped into the box provided in your local There are no closing dates and entries will be regularly considered by a panel of staff drawn from across the region.

Successful charities will be notified within 2 months of submitting their nomination. Read more at
I send invisible waves of thanks to you for bothering to read this infernal gibberish and apologies in advance if next weeks blog just doesn't materialise...C.P.