31 May 2017

The Wrocław Dwarfs: From Political Protest to Silliness for its own Sake

The Polish city of Wrocław was, in the 1980s, still in the thrall of an authoritarian communist regime.  A dissident protest movement, Orange Underground, evolved to peacefully protest against the regime as part of the wider Solidarity movement.  These protests would be as nonsensical as possible, so that the police could not arrest its members without becoming a laughing stock.  When the authorities painted over anti-government graffiti, Orange Underground moved to respond. In perhaps its most fondly remembered antic, its members painted dwarfs on top of the whitewash. This was commemorated in 2001: with the country now a democratic state, the council placed a sculpture of a dwarf on the city’s Świdnicka Street.  It didn’t stop there.

Product Recall


Fancy a slice of grown up science fiction that insists you do the thinking? Then you can’t go far wrong with Product Recall which will stretch your head to within an inch or two of its life. A different spin on the mad scientist movie, a frightening secret about the origin of matter is discovered but will it prove the scientist’s undoing? Written and directed by Ben Smith and starring Hans Longo, Product Recall will have you scratching your head for some time. Or perhaps it's just me...

White Nights in Saint Petersburg


One of the most glorious cities on the planet (in more ways than one) Saint Petersburg is made doubly special because of its ability to survive through thick and thin.  Kirill Neiezhmakov, professional photographer and creator of timelapses and hyperlapses par excellence brings us his latest work.  I don’t know what to be more jealous of, his globe-trotting or his talents. Either way, once you see this, Saint Petersburg is likely going to be on your bucket list!

100 UK Schools Lose £1M Each

NUT Campaigns

Over 100 schools will lose £1 million or more in funding. Every parent and teacher should see these numbers. Watch and share now. Find your school at schoolcuts.org.uk


It’s depressing that it’s 2017 and I am still writing post titles like this… but unfortunately the government of the UK believes it can successfully deliver an education to more and more students for less and less money. However, there is a fightback and it’s right before the June general election.

The School Cuts website has been updated to reflect what the three main political party pledges will mean for education in England. Simply entering your postcode provides a breakdown of what a Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat government would mean for school funding in your local area. See what your local candidates plan for the education of local children and consider changing your vote accordingly.

29 May 2017

Marais Poitevin: France’s Green Venice

Probably the best known and certainly the largest wetlands in France is the Camargue. Yet the second largest is, outside of the country, little known. Marais Poitevin in the south western region of Poitou-Charentes covers a huge area – over 370 square miles. Its name means the Poitou Marsh but the French also know it by a more venerable title - la Venise Verte. This Green Venice certainly lives up to its name.

21 May 2017

The Pop-up Book of the Brain


The brain was misunderstood, side-tracked or ignored for centuries for a number of reasons.  Yet how did the knowledge we have of this, our most important organ, evolve and shape?

Directed by Åsa Lucander, this great animation was created for the BBC’s Science Club as part of a series to both educate and entertain. It does both wonderfully.

The King of the Island


Get your hankies out now, because this will quite probably bring a tear to your eye. I know it brought several to my own.

This beautifully made animated short tells the story of Gioannin, a small boy living in the Italian port of Genoa at the beginning of the twentieth century.

His father was lost at sea several years before and Gioannin is pitied by the men of the port and somewhat bullied by the children because he has no father.

The boy, having no concept of death, imagines his father washed up on some exotic island where, because of his size, strength and cunning he soon becomes king.

One day his mother receives news that her husband is returning and Gioannin’s expectations of his father reach a peak. Yet when they are finally reintroduced, his father is nothing like he expected or imagined. He is something even better.

The King of the Island was made by Italian animation company artFive. They produce everything from computer graphics and animations for commercials, visual effects, videogames, web, to events, TV series, books and magazines. Take a look at their excellent demoreel here.

Storseisundet - The Bridge to Nowhere

Nervous drivers (and their equally nervous passengers) beware! You should really prepare yourselves for the sight of Storseisundet Bridge in Norway. The road connection from the mainland Romsdal peninsula to the island of Averøya in Møre og Romsdal county doesn’t look as if it actually connects as you drive towards it. In fact it looks very much as if you are in for an icy bath as you plummet off its 23 meters height.

14 May 2017

The Cave City of Vardzia

The Cave City of Vardzia is remarkable.   Situated in the European country of Georgia at the juncture of Eastern Europe and Western Asia it has an over eight hundred year history.  Yet you would be forgiven for wondering why such a place was built in the first place. The words why and how spring immediately to mind.

Maramures Hyperlapse


Never heard of Maramures?  It’s an isolated region of Romania: effectively a valley, it is surrounded by the Carpathian mountains and was difficult to get to for many centuries.  As such it developed its own style of rural architecture which is quite amazing.  Home to some of Romania’s historic wooden churches not to mention the Merry Cemetery, Maramures is an intriguing, beautiful place as this hyperlapse shows.

Escape


After crash-landing on a desolate planet, a lone space explorer must find a way to make her new home habitable. This intrepid character displays courage, passion, determination, and curiosity as she transforms the barren landscape she has found into a beautiful planet. Singer Imogen Heap developed an original soundtrack that wraps the audience in Dolby Atmos sound, unveiling the lead character’s changing emotions as she faces the challenges of a dark, disturbed landscape and persists to transform it into a place of joy and delight.

6 May 2017

If You Have Never Wanted to Visit Rome, You Will After You Watch This


Rome has an appeal like no other city in the world and when you see it through the eyes of timelapse and hyperlapse professional photographer Kirill Neiezhmakov then it isn’t difficult to see why.  As with all of Neiezhmakov’s work I am left wondering not how he made the city look so splendid (that’s not a hard one!) but how he physically managed to capture Rome in this way.  Certainly, if you have never wanted to visit Rome (and the Vatican City is thrown in here for good measure) you will after you watch this!  The piece is called A Gift from Rome and it certainly does what it says on the packet!

The Jesus And Mary Chain - Song For A Secret


I had no idea that the Jesus and Mary Chain were still going but have fond memories of dancing to their early stuff in alternative venues more years ago than I care to mention.  I guess that must mean I’m out of touch.  So, it was a great pleasure to be reintroduced to the band via the director of their new video Jared Asher Harris.  Taken from their new album, Damage and Joy this is not the wall of sound I remember from this particular band but is… well, decide for yourself by giving it a whirl!

1 May 2017

The Beautiful Butterfly Orchid

Look once, look again.

This is not a butterfly taking a rest on a piece of shrubbery. 

It is Psychopsis papilio – better known as the butterfly orchid.  It has petals of an incredible length which look like antennae and its speckled brown and yellow sepals look like outspread wings. 

Little wonder that this amazing orchid reputedly started the orchidmania of the 1800s.

Amung Feedjit
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