Crossroads in the Middle East
As one government topples and another lies besieged, Features takes a look at one of the world's most turbulent regions
9th February 2011
Historic race for Rectorship
Uni surplus surges as staff brace for cutbacks Open for business: Student activists take control of the Hetherington
•Senior Management to outline £20m savings in Uni spend Nick Sikora Exclusive DETAILS OF MANAGEMENT funding plans, understood by the Guardian in advance of their anticipated February 11 publication, reveal dramatic reductions to outgoings while university income grows. The upcoming ‘Cost Reduction Plan’, which will aim to slash university expenditure, is expected to highlight increasing staff costs cuts and
see a number of University courses axed. The information, which is not due to be released to the public until later this month, suggests that Senior Management will maintain its intention to make total annual savings of £20million while increasing revenue by £15million elsewhere, a plan that was initially drawn up to save the University from insolvency in the face of predicted cuts by the Scottish Government.
•Predicted budget surplus increases to over £7.3million for 2011 It is hoped that these measures will now also give the institution an operating surplus, as the 6.7% reduction to university subsidies from the Scottish Government have not yet risen to the 20-25% many industry leaders had feared. Several cost-cutting measures are already being rolled out across the university, with staff being invited to take part in a new Volunteer Severance/Early Retirement (VSER) scheme in the hope of encouraging
those staff reaching the end of their career into early redundancy. Staff costs currently account for 55% of all University spend, a figure that the Cost Reduction Plan seeks to address. An email mistakenly sent out by Senior Management to members of the University Senate in May 2010 outlined draft proposals collectively termed the ‘Strategic Investment Plan’, which mentions closure of (continued on page 2)
THE CONTEST TO BECOME the University of Glasgow’s 121st Rector has begun with two candidates vying for the position - current rector Charles Kennedy and contender Alison Louise Kennedy. The contest will be decided on February 21 and 22 when students at Glasgow University will vote online. The Rector’s chief role is to represent students, and acts as the ordinary president of the university court, which is the governing body of the university. The University of Glasgow is one of five universities in Scotland that elect a rector and the office is held for three years. Tommy Gore, President of the Students’ Representative Council (SRC), which the Rector works closely with, encouraged students to use their vote in the contest, He said: “Whilst the SRC is impartial in the Rector election, we're pleased to have two strong candidates running in what we hope will be a hotly contested election. I look forward to the election, and I'd urge all Glasgow students to take an interest, find out about the candidates and why they think they'd be the best person to be Rector. I hope the election will help to raise awareness of the position of Rector, as Glasgow students are in a lucky position in that they are able to elect the person who chairs the University Court, the senior governing body in our institution.” The race for Rector will be historic if either candidate wins - if A. L. Kennedy is the victor, she will be the second woman to hold the post after Willie Mandela held it from 1987-1990. If Charles Kennedy wins, he will be the second rector to serve two consecutive terms as Rector, as Benjamin Disraeli held the post from 1871-1877. (continued on page 6)
9th February 2011
Series of debates held at GUU p5
(continued from front page) a number of under-performing courses. The document listed several categories of course, preliminarily termed ‘platinum’, ‘gold’, ‘silver’ and ‘bronze’, which would outline the importance of their continued funding to the university. ‘Bronze’ courses, which were speculated to include subjects such as nursing and a number of modern languages, were to face the axe. It was subsequently announced following the accidental circulation that the Strategic Investment Plan had been rejected by Senior Management, but many of the strategies it had discussed are expected to resurface in the upcoming Cost Reduction Plan. Publication of the announcement comes as the university also prepares to reveal a current annual operating surplus that builds on the previous year’s figures. In the financial year ending 2010, the University had a surplus in excess of £7.3million, and costcutting measures already in place are to allow
Rectorial election campaigns get underway p6
Change in the Middle East p8 COMMENT
Andy Gray and Richard Keys - was it right to sack for sexism?
Glasgow's American Football team roar to victory p14
Looking to get involved? Guardian is always looking for new contributors. If you're interested in journalism, have a taste for art or an opinion you want to share, we'd love to hear from you. Come and meet the team. Meetings are held every Monday evening at 5pm in the Williams Room, SRC building, and are open to all aspiring journalists.
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Staff cuts coming despite growing surplus
Also in th
the university to improve on this for the year ending 2011. Student’s Representative Council (SRC) President, Tommy Gore, was keen to stress the SRC’s intention to minimize any impact on students the cutbacks may have. He said: “The SRC are obviously extremely concerned with some of the rumours that are currently flying about; however, it would be inappropriate to comment in more detail before we know what is laid out in the Cost Reduction Plan. “Students can be assured that we will be fighting hard to ensure that the impact of the Cost Reduction Plan is minimised as far as possible.” Other formative plans to reduce University expenditure include boosting site utilisation, which a recent report placed at just 20%, in an effort to increase efficiency and reduce wasted expenditure on energy and heating. The future of Glasgow University’s balance sheets have been the subject of much specula-
tion following Principal Anton Muscatelli’s controversial email to staff last September, in which he claimed that the university faced bankruptcy within three years unless ‘corrective action’ was taken. Increased investment in facilities is an ongoing aim at the University, and is expected to continue despite cost-cutting aims. Recent years have seen long-term plans to replace ageing and inefficient buildings, such as Social Science’s Adam Smith Building and the Engineering Department’s Rankine Building, whilst a £10million purchase was put in place to obtain and develop the neighbouring Western Infirmary site when it closes in 2013. The University Library is also planned to undergo future renovation, following on from the successful conversion of library’s Level 3. A £3million project has been put in place to deal with corrosion of the building’s façade. Further details of the University’s costcutting measures will be available when the plan is released in full later this month.
9th February 2011
University student killed in ‘random’ knife attack Adam Campbelll REAMONN GORMLEY, A 19 YEAR OLD Psychology student at the University of Glasgow, has died in hospital as a result of stab wounds in what police have described as an entirely random attack. Gormley was stabbed on Glasgow Road, Blantyre, by two men while walking home from the Parkville Club with a friend. The incident came after watching Celtic play Aberdeen, at 10:55pm on February 1. His friend managed to take him back to the Parkville to get help, before being rushed to Hairmyres hospital in East Kilbride where he later died from his injuries. Police have arrested an 18 year old and 22 year old in connection to the murder. The suspects appeared in Hamilton Sherrif Court on February 7. A commemorative march, which police estimate that between 1,200 and 1,400 partici-
pated in, has been held in Blantyre. The route started and ended at the Parkville Bar. The march was organized online through Facebook, where tributes have been paid to Reamonn Gormley. Marie Tully, who posted on the website, paid her respects. She said: “RIP Reamonn you were such a gentleman and it was a pleasure to have known you. Sleep tight angel, my thoughts and prayers are with all your family and friends.” Others, who did not know Gormely personally, have also paid tribute to him. Siobhan Hossack said: “Just returned from the walk dedicated to Reamonn, what a beautiful, inspirational morning, I had never met you Reamonn but I know I wished I had. A beautiful bright young man your spirit will never leave us.” Reamonn Gormley was a first year student at Glasgow University, having worked for a charity in Thailand for a year after leaving school in 2009.
Glasgow leads cancer research Mark Zurbrügg THE UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW IS TO play an important role in the treatment of cancer, with the opening of The Cancer Research UK West of Scotland Cancer Centre. The centre aims to turn cancer treatment research into practical applications, giving many different experts the chance to collaborate in a manner deemed a change to normal research methods. The centre will allow experts from the University of Glasgow, Strathclyde University and the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.to work together on oncological projects. The present focus of the new centre's work will be on research into bowel cancer and chronic myeloid leukaemia. The new centre will be based within the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research. The centre was granted £1 million in funding by the charity Cancer Research UK, and is one of many centres being opened across the country.
Professor Karen Vousden, Director of the Beatson institute, praised the new centre. She said: “This is a very exciting development for cancer research in Scotland. The new Centre will help us bring together a variety of researchers and clinicians to collaborate and work together to improve the lives of cancer patients across Scotland. By building closer links between scientists and doctors we want to increase the pace of research leading to improved treatments for people with cancer." The centre will form part of a larger cancer network alongside the Paul O’Gorman Leukaemia Research Centre, the institute of cancer sciences and the soon to be completed Beatson Translational Centre. Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: "Funding these centres of excellence is one of the charity's priorities and will enable us to work towards the goals we have set to improve the treatment and survival of cancer patients. But we continue to welcome the generous donations we receive from the public to ensure we can build on what we have started today."
Hetherington re-opened by students Adam Campbell THE ABANDONED HETHERINGTON Research Club has been occupied by various activist groups in protest to proposed cuts to Higher Education. The club, which was forced to close down last year for financial reasons, was occupied on Tuesday February 1 by around 50 protesters, who gained access to the empty building through a fire door from the adjoining building 11 University Gardens.
"this kind of direct action might have actually kept our social space open and kept 25 people in jobs" Eileen Boyle - former Staff Representative
The occupiers have issued a list of demands, which include indefinite freedom of access, no police presence, acceptance of student ownership and control of the Hetherington. The protesters are also demanding no cuts to student services or unions and no job losses without proper consultation. One protester explained the reasons for the occupation. He said: "Student action shows the importance of the student experince and this occupation of the Hetherington will remind others of that as well." The decision to occupy the building was taken on Monday as workers began to renovate the building, in what is rumoured to be an attempt by the University to sell off the building as offices. The activists intend on using the club as a free student space that is open to all staff
and students, and numerous events have been held in the building, including a reading by AL Kennedy, in what is considered to be the launch of her campaign to become Rector at Glasgow University. Many different groups, including former staff members at the Hetherington, have supported the campaign. Eileen Boyle, former Staff Representative at the Hetherington, showed her support for the occupation. She said: “I was here the day they actually shut it down and I’m just thinking this kind of direct action might have actually kept our social space open and kept 25 people in jobs so I’m applauding what the students are doing just now to draw attention to this.” Tommy Gore, President of the Students’ Representative Council (SRC), applauded the efforts of the protesters, but warned them from shifting focus off other events. He said: “Whilst it’s good to see the Hetherington back in use, we’re concerned that the Occupation will detract from the issues surrounding the forthcoming Cost Reduction Plan in the next week. This is where the SRCs focus will be on, in responding to these announcements.” A University spokesperson says it will not intervene with the occupation unless it becomes disruptive. He said: “Campus security are in close contact with the protesters. As things stand, as long as the protest remains peaceful and does not disrupt the normal business of the University and other students, campus security will not intervene." The Research Club was closed down last year after the university stopped providing finanicial grants to the club, believing that it was unjustifiable to supply funding to a club that was not financially viable.
Occupied: the previously vacant Hetherington Research Club
9th February 2011
Consultation over future of higher education Adam Campbell THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT HAS published its Green Paper on the future of Higher Education in Scotland. The publication of the paper sees the beginning of a period of consultation with various different bodies in order to find a Scottish Solution to higher education funding that is supported by the majority. Concerns have been raised that Scotland is under pressure after Westminster voted in favour of a moderted form of the Browne Review Proposals in December.
However Education Secretary, Mike Russell, is keen to distance the Scottish Parliament from proposals that will be put in place south of the border. He said: “Our tradition in Scotland is based on access determined by ability to learn, not ability to pay. We reject the socially divisive view that students and graduates should be forced to take charge of their own education through tuition fees. I believe this approach would discriminate against the poorest, place barriers in the way of learning and would over time massively diminish the potential of Scottish society.
“I therefore believe the position taken by the Westminster Coalition is wrong for Scotland in three respects: It is wrong because it abdicates the state’s responsibility as the primary funder of higher education. It is wrong because it is based on a mistaken belief that the only beneficiary of higher education is the individual. And it is wrong, because when considered alongside other moves being made on levels of financial support available for students – such as abolishing the EMA in England – it will reduce the opportunities for those from the least well off backgrounds to improve their life chances by continuing to study once they leave school.”
Tommy Gore, President of the Student's Representative Council (SRC), welcomed the consultation process as an opportunity for Glasgow student concerns to be raised. He explained: “The Scottish Government is currently consulting widely on the Green Paper – the SRC is taking an active part in the consultation sessions that are being held across the country, to make sure the interests of Glasgow students are best represented. Furthermore, we’re just beginning an extensive consultation process with students, to help inform the writing of our formal submission to the Green Paper.”
no 21% 79% yes Do you think the Scottish Government will be influenced by Westminster's decision to increase fees in England? To take part in Guardian Polls, head to our website at:
Poorest students to lose out in budget
Students make their voices heard over the Browne Review proposals
Louise Wilson CONCERNS HAVE BEEN RAISED THAT £9m worth of necessary funding will not be met for colleges and students for the next academic year. These figures came after the proposal of a draft Scottish Budget, and has sparked fears that college places will become unstable as many will not receive the bursaries they rely on whilst attending college, with speculation that drop-out numbers are set to increase. A Freedom of Information request for previous year's budgets, found that many had recieved inadequate funding, with 41% of colleges having to use reserves to fulfil bursary requirements and 24% having to make cuts to students directly. College bursaries provide up to £89 per week for the poorest students in full time further education. Without this weekly allow-
ance, some claim they would not be able to afford to remain in college, and would be forced to seek employment instead. A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said that this information was being taken into consideration. He said: “The budget is currently in draft form and our focus is on acting in the best interests of college students. “Clear evidence of this comes in the fact that the Scottish Government is providing record funding for college student support in the current year (2010-11), up by over 6 per cent. Moreover, our draft Budget for next year will ensure that this record level of funding is maintained in the face of the savage cuts imposed on us by the Westminster Government.” If colleges run out of funds bursaries are likely to stop, as unlike university loans and Educational Maintenance Allowances (EMA), they come from college funds rather than directly from the Scottish government.
Plagiarism on the rise in Scotland Philine Apenburg OFFICIAL FIGURES SUGGEST THAT THE number of students who are caught plagiarising at University is steadily rising. This year has witnessed an unprecedented number of cases of plagiarism; a survey has shown that over a thousand students have been trying to cheat. Plagiarism has increased by 8% since last year, up from 1079 incidents of plagiarism to 1169. This trend has been on the rise for several years. St Andrew’s University has caught 276 incidents of cheating over the course of the past five years. Scottish Universities have revealed the number of plagiarism cases that they were able to identify in 2009/10; Edinburgh Napier has the highest number of students being convicted of plagiarism with 288 incidents, Robert Gordon in Aberdeen recorded 204 cases and Stirling University identified 198 cases over the year. There were 178 examples of plagiarism at Edinburgh University and at least 62 cases at Glasgow University, which did not release its full figures.
It has been claimed that the increase in recorded plagiarism is a result of better methods of detecting copied work. Numerous universities use software such as Turnitin in order to detect plagiarised work more easily. This program scans the students’ work for passages that might have been copied from other essays, making it easier to spot plagiarism and has allegedly led to a higher number of recorded cases. Twice as many students have been caught plagiarizing at universities that use programs like Turnitin. A spokesperson for the University and College Union explained possible reasons for the rise. He said: "As information is easily available online and essays can be purchased on the internet, it may seem like an easy option to those under a great deal of pressure". He also pointed towards the increased pressure that students nowadays feel at university and that this might be a reason for the dramatic increase in plagiarism cases. He said: “While we do not condone cheating, it is understandable to think more students are doing it now”.
9th February 2011
GUU hosts series of debates IN BRIEF Jennifer Campbell and Adam Campbell
THE GLASGOW UNIVERSITY UNION (GUU) has continued it’s tradition of debating by hosting two political head-to-heads. The first, the annual John Smith Memorial Debate, saw high-profile politicians debate the motion that “This house believes that Labour is still best for Britain,” and the second a debate on the Alternative Vote (AV) referendum, which is due to take place on May 5. The University’s Rector, the Rt. Hon. Charles Kennedy MP, chaired the John Smith debate, and stressed his impartial and independent role at the beginning of the proceedings. Proposing the motion were the Labour politicians Ann McKechin, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland and MP for the Glasgow North constituency; the Rt. Hon. Tom Clarke, who is a former Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland and MP for Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill; and Johann Lamont, Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party and MSP for Glasgow Pollok. Ann McKechin MP defended Labour’s commitment to the working people of Britain, while Tom Clarke MP highlighted some of Labour’s achievements while in power.
Speaking to the Glasgow University Guardian, Johann Lamont MSP summarised the main argument of the proposition: “We have big issues facing families, and my contention still remains that the Labour Party are more likely to protect and defend them.” Representatives from the other three major parties opposed the motion: Gerald Malone, former Conservative Minister of State in the Department of Health; Liberal Democrat MSP Robert Brown, Shadow Spokesperson for Justice and representative of the Glasgow region; and Angela Constance, Minister for Skills and Lifelong Learning in the current SNP government. Charles Kennedy concluded the debate by praising both the good-natured atmosphere and the clashing ideas brought to the fore. Following this, a vote led him to declare the result a scoring draw. Proposing the AV system were Sophie Bridger, head of the Glasgow University Liberal Democrats and Katy Gordon, candidate for the Liberal Democrats for Glasgow North. Opposing the AV system was Ruth Davidson, who stood as the Conservative party candidate in the 2009 Glasgow North East
by-election and 2010 General Election, and Ross McFarlane, President of the Glasgow University Conservative Association. Speaking after the debate, Katy Gordon emphasised the benefits of AV and encouraged people to use their vote. She said: “It’s really important that everyone goes out and votes and votes for this. “I think will be fairer vote and it will make sure that everyone’s vote counts it will stop the scandal of MPs having safe seats, seats for life, and it will also make MPs work harder, as they will not just have to get the core vote but they will also have to go out to work to get other people to support them as well. So with the fairer vote we have an opportunity, the people have an opportunity to have a say change politics forever.” Gerald Malone, speaking to the Guardian after the John Smith Memorial debate, stressed the importance of debating at the University of Glasgow and highlighted its rich history: He said “There’s a litany of people who have cut their teeth in the debating chamber in Glasgow University”, mentioning Charles Kennedy, Menzies Campbell and Donald Dewar amongst others. Nick Sikora
Uni poet named national Makar Up for debate: voting reform
Laura Horsley LIZ LOCHHEAD, FORMER WRITER-INresidence at the University of Glasgow, has been confirmed as Scotland’s National Poet. The award-winning Lanarkshire poet, playwright, performer, broadcaster and translator will replace Edward Morgan, who died in August last year. On making the announcement at the National Library of Scotland, First Minister Alex Salmond praised Lochhead and her contribution to Scottish literature. He said, “Ms Lochhead embodies everything a nation would want from its national poet. “With a natural ability to reach all ages and touch both sexes through her writing, Ms Lochhead has also been immensely successful at
championing the Scots language. She continues to reach out to school pupils through her work which is widely read in Scotland's schools and she is also a much valued role model, advocate and inspiration for women who are given a strong voice in her writing.” Lochhead who was surprised at being chosen, accepted her appointment as Scotland’s National Poet with great enthusiasm. She said, “I am as delighted as I am surprised by this enormous honor. “I accept it on behalf of poetry itself, which is, and always has been, the core of our culture, and in grateful recognition of the truth that poetry - the reading of it, the writing of it, the saying it out loud, the learning of it off by heart - all of this matters deeply to ordinary Scottish people everywhere.” Known for a diverse range of works, including plays such as Mary Queen of Scots
Got Her Head Chopped Off and the poetry collection, Dreaming Frankenstein, Ms Lochhead has earned numerous literary awards and holds honorary doctorates from 10 Scottish universities. She will step down from her role of Glasgow’s Makar to accept her new position. On the subject of who might replace her, John Coyle, Head of the English Literature faculty at the University of Glasgow said. “I'd like to think that not only native-born Glaswegians or Scots would be in contention. I've been heartened recently by how many poets from all over the world have found this city a great place to work in.” Ms Lochhead will take up the role of National Poet with immediate effect. She will be the second person to hold the position since it was created in 1994. Jani Helle
Funding boost for Hunterian
THE HUNTERIAN MUSEUM AND Gallery has been named as one of three Recognised Collections of National Significance, and will be awarded funding from the Scottish Government. The University of Glasgow's Hunterian, Provost Skene‘s House in Aberdeen and Dundee‘s Discovery Point will share over £220, 000 worth of funding. The Hunterian will use £115,000 to install behind the scene storage for it‘s half a million zoological specimens.
Glasgow Uni opens Singapore Office
THE UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW HAS signed an agreement with the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), to teach joint mechanical engineering design and mechatronics programmes. The agreement will see Glasgow University opens an office with five permanent staff supporting 320 students a year. Students will complete two years of study at one of SIT's partner polytechnics before studying for a further two years at the University of Glasgow Singapore. The university‘s office is be located in Ngee Ann polytechnic, one of the oldest and most respected polytechnics in Singapore. Principal of the University of Glasgow, Anton Muscatelli, spoke of the benefits the agreement will bring to both institutions. He said: “This collaboration offers some real benefits to both institutions. It provides unique student exchange opportunities, industry collaborations and the chance for Glasgow to showcase its world-class teaching and research.”
New writer in Residence at Glasgow LOUISE WILSON, AWARD WINNING novelist, has been appointed as writer in residence for the University of Glasgow and Glasgow School of Art. The Glasgow University graduate in History and later in Creative Writing will follow previous appointees to the role such as Alistair Gray and new National Poet Liz Lochead. Wilson has published many bestselling books, such as ‘The Cutting Room’ and ‘Tamburlaine Must Die’ She has also won several awards for her work, including The Crimewriter‘s Association Creasy Dagger and the Saltire First Book Award. On her appointment to the position, Wilson explained the influence of her role. She said: “I’d also like to meet scientists, engineers, architects and others because writing should not be confined to the College of Arts.”
Kennedy vs Kennedy 6 NEWS
(continued from front page) Charles Kennedy, graduate of Glasgow University, is the former Leader of the Liberal Democrats whom he led from 1999-2006, and is the current MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber. He is critical of the Liberal
"Charles' experience with dealing with the University Senior Management Group during his first term as Rector could prove invaluable as the University begins to re-evaluate spending on teaching and student services," Iain Smith - QMU President
Democrat coalition government with the Conservative party and was one of 21 Liberal Democrat MPs to vote against the Browne Review proposals in December. In his role as Rector he stands as an independent. Charles Kennedy won the last rector election in 2008 with 46% of
9th February 2011
the vote, being backed by the three main student bodies, The Glasgow University Union (GUU), which he was once President of, the Queen Margaret Union (QMU) and Glasgow University Sports Association (GUSA), all of whom are continuing to back him in his present campaign. Colin Woods, current President of the GUU explained the reasons behind the union’s decision to back Charles Kennedy, He said: “We feel that his experience as both a Glasgow Uni student, and as a continuing rector, will allow him to hit the ground running in tackling important issues both locally on campus and nationally. “We feel that he is in the best position to represent Glasgow students at a national level, through his position at Westminster and as he has already shown he is not afraid to stand up for what he believes is best for us. “Charles has also already built up strong relationships with members of the University court, student presidents and with the wider student population; meeting regularly with all concerned.”
QMU President, Iain Smith, echoed Woods’ comments. He said: “The QM Board of Management took the decision to support Charles Kennedy's campaign for re-election as we felt that it was important that someone was elected
"The main issue I want to focus on is, there’s this wrong-headed determination to use utterly discredited business models in education."
to the role who would be able to represent members of the QM, as well as the wider student populous, in the most effective way possible. Charles Kennedy is the QM's preferred candidate due to his track record of working for students through his surgeries and meetings with elected student representatives, as whilst the latter is an innovation which came late in his first
term as Rector, the meetings he has held with myself and the President's of the SRC, GUSA and the GUU have been productive and enhanced the working relationship of the four student bodies. “Furthermore, Charles' experience with dealing with the University Senior Management Group during his first term as Rector could prove invaluable as the University begins to re-evaluate spending on teaching and student services, and if re-elected he will be able to begin acting on behalf of students without any transitional period. “Finally, Charles has shown he is not afraid to stand against majority opinion in representing students by in voting against the Coalition Government in last year's Tuition Fees referendum, and his role in Westminster offers Glasgow University students a level of national representation which many other Universities would envy." Alison Louise Kennedy is an award winning Scottish writer, teacher and stand-up comedienne. She was awarded an honorary
Francis McKee Represent: Charles Kennedy, right, is running for a consecutive term as Rector, whilst Alison Louise Kennedy, left, kicks off her campaign at the Hetherington
Doctorate of Letters degree from Glasgow University in 2007. A.L Kennedy spoke to the Glasgow University Guardian about her reasons for running as a Rector candidate. She sawid: “The main issue I want to focus on is, there’s this wrong-headed determination to use utterly discredited business models in education. “It’s come quite late to Glasgow, which makes it slightly more bewildering because it clearly doesn’t work, even in business. “It’s an opportunity to talk about that and to talk about getting back to looking at what education genuinely can be about, which works better commercially, it works better for people so that they actually have successful lives in a rounded way and it will work better for an institution that has a high academic reputation rather than just churning out highly discredited business models that destroyed the NHS, destroyed the BBC and have been generally undermining the institutions that we have been speaking about.”
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9th February 2011
FEATURES Three countries
Barbary riots The unexpected nature of the Tunisian protests raise questions for the future of Arab democratisation. By James Foley.
he overthrow of Tunisian dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was not supposed to happen. It is one of those moments of serendipity that strains existing historical narratives. The Tunisian Revolution is a warning shot to tyrants across the globe: never assume the compliant docility of your subjects. After more than two decades in power, Ben Ali was arguably the most secure despot in the region. It is little more than a year since he was re-elected with nearly 90 percent approval. Combining the iron fist with the velvet glove, he ruthlessly suppressed internal dissent while proffering “liberal” reforms on women’s rights that swelled his support amongst the middle class. As a celebrated tourist resort, Ben Ali’s Tunisia embraced the Western road to modernity, and achieved superficially impressive growth rates. Washington and Paris happily turned a blind eye to the corruption and the despotism. With a quiescent Islamist opposition and deference to the worst of Western fripperies, Tunisia was a shining example of what the Arab world should aspire to. But the real novelty the Tunisian people now strive for is democracy, and self-determination. The obstacles are both internal and international. On the one hand, forces close to Ben Ali’s party, the Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD), have made every effort to transform the revolutionary wave into a coup d’état: they are resigned to Ben Ali’s departure, but they are moving swiftly to consolidate the existing power structure. In the midst of chaos, the old bureaucracy is reasserting itself, cynically echoing the chorus for a return to “order” and for “restraint on all sides”. They gain support from the liberals, who are happy to prop up the regime. The cretinism of the term “pluralism” has never been so amply demonstrated. The very notion of a government that represents all parties and all sectors of the population is impossible in a revolution. The Tunisian poor have made their determination to flush out the old dictatorship known. This is why repeated attempts to bring the trade union bureaucracy into the government have failed: the masses have rejected compromise with the old guard, and they have demonstrated their will on the streets. Meanwhile the Islamists, who enjoy a measure of soft support, are the weakest in the region. As in any revolution, the degree of democratisation really depends on the independent initiative of the masses. The Revolution was not anticipated, there are no revolutionary organisations of any strength. Everything
depends on the will and the organisation to build a democratic infrastructure independently of The Party of Order: the old guard and the liberals. While only a fool would hazard to second guess this process in the flush of real history, the effects of the Revolution will be considerable even if everything ceases at this juncture. The simple mobilising power of the slogan “bread, freedom, dignity” has resounded across the region, passed along through social media, Al Jazeera, and word of mouth. Solidarity riots and protests have exposed the brittle structure of the Arab dictatorships, and even threaten to unseat the king of the toads, Egypt’s octogenarian autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Tunisia was not supposed to happen; certainly, it was not supposed to happen this way. We are accustomed to think that overthrowing a dictatorship means the victory of the pamphleteering middle class intelligentsia. Or we think of political parties in exile jetting in from London and proclaiming the leadership of the revolution. The farsighted Western pundits who thought of the Arab world as more than irretrievably backward, dogmatic, and tractable certainly had this liberal-democratic orientation in mind. But the Revolution has exposed the spinelessness of liberal reformers who will plead with dictators and American ambassadors for democracy until they see it on the street. The exiles and the intellectuals have played virtually no role in the Jasmine Revolution. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Tunisian masses. This will pose great problems for reformers in the West. The unresolved conflict between “democratisation” as Western minds envisaged, and the really democratic aspirations of the Arab people, has been exposed. Tunisia will change the terms of democratic discourse forever. It opens up new horizons for a better alternative to the collusion of oil-hungry profiteers and corrupt dictators. As Arab youth, peasants, and workers confront the question of a lasting break with dictators and American supremacy, supporters of democracy in the West should extend our unqualified support. Innovations are necessarily haphazard and the future is by no means determined; but after centuries of foreign domination and dictatorship, the sense of openness is exhilarating. We live in the shadow of the words of Tunisian nationalist poet Abu Al-Qasim Al-Shabi: "When people decide to live, destiny shall obey, and one day ... the slavery chains must be broken."
Three conflicts Tunisia. Egypt. Israel. Guardian's contributors give commentary.
Nothing left to give The recently revealed 'Palestine Papers' shed new light on Canaan diplomacy. James Maxwell gives insight.
n one sense, there is little genuinely new or shocking in the confidential ‘Palestine Papers’ published by the Guardian and Al-Jazeera last month. The Papers, which detail confidential peace negotiations, demonstrate that Israeli diplomats erected significant roadblocks to an independent Palestinian state. But it has long been apparent, even to casual observers of the conflict, that Israel expects the Palestinians to concede full surrender in return for peace and self-determination. The documents show that in 2007/2008, Israel commanded Palestinian negotiators to end any meaningful opposition to illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank; to support the disarmament of Hamas in Gaza and the PLO in the West Bank; and to grant official recognition of the essentially ‘Jewish character’ of the Israeli state. Israel also insisted that members of the Palestinian refugees relinquish their right to return home: a right, codified in international law, which is of huge significance for the Palestinian Diaspora. If all of this is unremarkable, the papers do, however, contain one singular disclosure: the leaders of the Fatah controlled Palestinian Authority (PA) – Mahmoud Abbas, Abu Ala, and Saeb Erekat – were very keen to acquiesce to Israeli demands. But
9th Feburary 2011
The day the Boy King went walkabout Spectacular protests in Egypt may herald a new era for one of the Middle East's most formative nations. Yet recent events may not be so detatched from the past. Glasgow Egyptologist, David Lightbody, explains.
s an archaeologist and Egyptology PhD I’ve followed the ongoing events in Egypt closely. Last week Hosni Mubarak, the president of Egypt for almost 30 years, announced on national TV that he would not stand for re-election at the end of the present term. This was the sad culmination of thirty years of unimaginative rule, which slowly evolved into reactionary and oppressive misrule. The sorry state of Egyptian affairs had been increasingly evident over the past few years. Even in the relatively short period between my visits to Luxor in 2002 and 2008, increasing poverty was visible both in the streets and in the faces of the downtrodden people. Despite being a prosperous and powerful country in the mid twentieth century, Egypt has failed to realise its potential and the administration has not moved into the twenty-first century. Indeed, the country has been subjected to an increasingly authoritarian, inflexible, and oppressive regime. Rigged elections, poverty, and unemployment combined to bring the nation to boiling point. Triggered by parallel circumstances in Tunisia, where a young man committed suicide to protest oppression by the authorities in his country, Egypt took to the streets en-masse for several days. Despite the best efforts of the President to stem the flow of information to and from protestors – and the deaths on the streets of more than 200 – the movement increased in power and numbers. The West stood back at first, seemingly in stunned surprise. After sitting
on the fence for several days President Obama eventually accepted the inevitable and indicated an acceptance and desire for organised transition to a new, more democratic rule. As every student of the past knows, “those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it”. As they confront the battle for the present, Egyptians are increasingly aware of history. They are encountering an old maxim from Mark Twain: “History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme”. The disastrous aftermath of the Iraq war casts a long shadow over the Middle East. As Egypt struggles to come to terms with the new situation, heated discussions in Tahrir Square draw parallels with the Second World War, the French Revolution and Athenian democracy. Even a real pharaoh, Tutankhamun, made a brief appearance, or disappearance, from centre stage. During the chaos in central Cairo, two gold painted wooden statues of the Boy King disappeared from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Only the pedestals and the king’s sandals remained. Tutankhamun was not a particularly important king when he ruled Egypt, and although immensely valuable, these statues pale in comparison to other items in the museum, such as the boy king's death mask, the mummy of Rameses the Great, the 5,000 year old Narmer Palette, and some of the most pristine statues and murals to have survived from Antiquity. But the mere thought of the potential damage to these treasures of antiquity turns my stomach. The
value of these artefacts is impossible to fully appreciate. In Egypt, Mubarak is famous for his use of nationalist use of Pharonic-era imagery. Egypt’s previous nationalist rulers, Nasser and Sadat, had used imagery from the Islamic period or Arab nationalist mofits. For many Egyptians, Mubarak’s evocation of the slave-holding Pharaohs came to represent the bonds of slavery that tied them to the dictatorship. But as a would-be Pharoah, Mubarak should have drawn lessons from the past. Tutankhamun is famous for his opulent death mask, encased in solid gold. The circumstances surrounding this are uncertain, but scholars have argued that the Boy King was rewarded for thwarting his heretical father Akhenaten in his attempt to seize absolute power for the monarchy. Akheatan tried to rebuild Egypt in his own image, shutting temples and banning worship of all the traditional gods. He constructed an immense new capital in the desert for himself, where he became more and more isolated from the people. The country declined seriously under his rule, and stability only returned once the king eventually died. The historical parallels are startlingly close. Tutankamun oversaw the return to power of the traditional Egyptian administration and religion once his father had died. The temples were re-opened and Egypt returned onto a path that led to some of the most powerful and creative periods in the history of the Nile Valley. Was
they were thwarted by Israel’s unwillingness to compromise. The deadlock that followed gave Israel a perfect excuse to advance its program of expansion in the West Bank, and, consequently, hindered progress toward Palestinian statehood. Tzipi Livni, then Israeli foreign minister, has all but admitted that this had been Israel’s strategy. “Israeli policy is to take more and more land day after day,” she said in 2008, “and then at the end of the day we’ll say that [a Palestinian state] is impossible - we already have the land and we cannot create the state.” How long can Israel cling to this delusion of full spectrum dominance? Israeli democracy has begun to splinter under the pressure of perpetual conflict, both internal and external. Young Israelis are increasingly disillusioned with a State that conscripts them to fight and die in wars that are counterproductive to the country’s security - growing numbers are refusing to complete their compulsory armed service, and a national campaign is even underway to abolish it altogether. At the same time, the extremist right is gaining political ground. Israel’s current
government is a coalition between Benyamin Netanyahu’s conservative Likud Party and Avigdor Lieberman’s ultra-nationalist Yisrael Bieteinu. Lieberman, a Soviet-born former nightclub bouncer, argues that Arab-Israeli members of the Knesset who negotiate with Hamas should be executed like Nazi collaborators at Nuremburg. Eventually, something must give. Choosing a peaceful, democratic future entails loosening its iron grip on the Palestinians and on its own people - Arabs and dissidents in particular. The alternative is to embrace the authoritarian and ethno-chauvinist tendencies represented by Lieberman, choking civil society on the fumes of militarism in the process. What remains of Palestine’s social fabric has crumbled and fragmented in turn. The concessions granted by Abbas and Erekat will be interpreted by Palestinians at large as abject capitulation. Fatah, for so long the dominant party in Palestine, is saturated with corrupt functionaries. Under widespread suspicion of electoral fraud, its claim to democratic legitimacy is, at best, tenuous. Few Palestinians have faith
in its capacity to negotiate a fair settlement; but the Americans and Israelis refuse to deal with anyone else. If Fatah does not move quickly to replace its stagnant leadership, the prospect of civil war in Palestine will grow. An immense political cleavage already exists between the radical Gazans in their prison-enclave and the more moderate West Bank. Hamas spokesmen speak openly about the ‘treachery’ and ’betrayal’ exhibited by the PA during the peace process. With his credibility shots to pieces, President Abbas is hemorrhaging support. He must realise that the longer he stays in office, the greater the threat to Palestinian national unity. There is no guarantee that whoever or whatever emerges as the Palestinians’ representative voice will sit comfortably with Israeli or liberal Western sensibilities. But unless the United States and Israel are willing to step back from the brink, accept the necessity of compromise, and offer the Palestinians a real opportunity to govern themselves, they might, in this instance, just have to cope with the hand they are dealt.
this a revolution, a reformation, a restoration, a counter-revolution or a counter-reformation? It is difficult to say. However, it is certain that Mubarak’s son Gamal, the notoriously Westernised playboy, will not be given the same opportunity to correct this latterday Pharaoh’s hubris. What will happen now? By the time this article is read things will no-doubt have developed much further in Egypt. Mubarak may or may not have gone for good, and there will no doubt have been further skirmishes and projectile based negotiations. The final objective, however, must be the establishment of free and fair elections, for a president and a parliament, and a parliament that operates on the principle of being for the people, by the people.
9th February 2011
Hail Mary Iona Cousland explores the work of Scottish charity, Mary's Meals.
ast year, the Scottish charity Mary’s Meals provided over 75 million meals to schoolchildren across 16 countries. Their campaign, ‘Feeding the Future’, aims to feed children that otherwise may not get a daily meal. Mary’s Meals founder Magnus Macfarlane-Barrow calls each meal ‘a seed...planted with hope for the future.’ The idea was born in an encounter between MacfarlaneBarrow and a young Malawian boy during a famine relief project in 2002. Asked to describe his ambitions, the boy answered: “To have enough to eat and go to school one day.” Struck by the simplicity of these desires, Magnus set up Mary’s Meals, which brings school dinners to countries afflicted with starvation. The Christian, religious connotations are intentional: Mary, mother of Jesus, symbolises the struggle to bring up a child in hopeless poverty. A former fish farmer, Magnus’s entrepreneurial spirit was undoubtedly a key element in making the charity a success. Helped by his brother, he built its base by gathering donations from their rural community near Argyll, initially to aid wartorn Bosnia. Returning home, they discovered the donations had not stopped whilst they were away. Struck by this public altruism, Magnus committed himself to driving this aid out to the communities in Bosnia. The donations continued and Scottish International Relief was born in 1992. The charity is now the biggest in Malawi, where it feeds 340,000 children every school day. Thanks to the initiative, it
costs only £6.15 to feed a child for a full year here, aided by bulk buying and utilising local produce. The charity prides itself on using the initiative of local volunteers to carry out the feeding programme. The volunteers are often mothers, overjoyed to feed their children and enable their education. The invaluable nature of education is something that Claire Martin, leader of the Mary’s Meals Glasgow University fundraising group, believes the West take for granted. But in the Third World education is the only means of escaping poverty.
"if Magnus had set his mind to become an entrepreneur he’d be a billionaire by now" Duncan Bannatyne
Scotsman Macfarlane-Barrow has achieved international recognition through his efforts. In November 2010 he was nominated amongst the top 10 ‘CNN Unsung Heroes’, and not long after was awarded an OBE in the New Year’s honours lists. Fellow Scot Duncan Bannatyne, who has achieved fame through his own entrepreneurism, calls Magnus the ‘most inspirational person he has ever met’ and observes that ‘if Magnus had set his mind to become an entrepreneur he’d be a billionaire by now.’
I met the charity’s education officer, Tony Begley, and was immediately struck by Magnus’s infectious influence on the charity. ‘Magnus has given up so much to achieve a dream- to feed every child in the world,’ he enthused. ‘This is an achievable dream, if people want to make a difference they can. If Magnus had felt he was not able to make difference, what would have happened to the 459, 000 children currently being fed by Mary’s Meals?’ Begley is a former deputy head at Holyrood secondary school in Glasgow. He became involved with the charity through a school trip to Malawi, where he built classrooms as part of a Mary’s Meals project. This inspired him to leave this senior post and take up a lower lesser paid role for Mary’s Meals (where none of the staff receive a salary over £35,000 a year, including Magnus). Begley sees his role not merely as feeding children in developing countries to enable them to learn, but also teaching children in the UK about the poverty and starvation which afflicts children in Sub-Saharan Africa, Haiti, and other Third World nations. Through education projects in Scottish schools, he hopes to change attitudes to poverty. Begley believes in the value individual effort: good intentions really can make a difference in the world. Begley and Macfarlane-Barrow’s charitable impulses stem from their sense that the world as it is must be changed. Their efforts have helped change the course history as well as thousands of lives.
To show your support for Mary’s Meals, come along to the next fundraiser which will be taking place at Nice N’ Sleazys on 20th February, where a collection of 4 different bands will be playing. Tickets will be £4 and all money raised will go directly to the charity. Last year the university fundraisers organized a gig in the Captain’s Rest which rose over £1000. To get involved, or for further information on the university group, contact current leader, Claire Martin at 0901377M@student.gla.ac.uk
9th February 2011
The death of the book 570 years after the birth of the printing press, has ink's ending come? By Kirsten Stewart.
or the first time, judges of this year’s Booker Prize were sent electronic book (e-book) readers instead of traditional paperbacks. While they can still request hardcopies of the books if they desire, it’s likely that most will plump for the flexibility of digital media. For many observers, the book has already been usurped in the e-book revolution. With the success of downloadable music, TV shows and films, it is no surprise that literature followed suit. Critics were sceptical at first, but were soon silenced when Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader sold out after its November 2007 release. Its overnight success sparked speculation over the future of books in a world full of digital data. Book sales are sliding next to digital formats. Amazon released figures earlier this week showing that in the last three trading months of 2010, for the first time ever, Kindle e-books sold more than paperbacks in the USA. In the UK, the Office of National Statistics said that book sales by UK publishers had fallen by six percent. The number of visitors to public libraries is also steadily falling, causing local
councils to cut funding and forcing the closure of many libraries all over the UK. Readers, publishers, and politicians are forced to question whether traditional books have a future at all, or whether we have truly entered the e-book age. Statistics show that, in spite of this onslaught of digital media, there’s life in the old book yet. While e-books have outsold paperbacks, physical book sales are still growing. Versatility, it seems, is the way forward – whilst you might buy an e-book for yourself, you might still buy a physical book for someone else. Publishing now faces very interesting debates on the way forward. For students, e-books are a valuable resource. You might have to spend roughly £200 on your choice of e-reader, but you are almost guaranteed to be able to pick up your textbooks or paperbacks for considerably cheaper than buying physical copies. Instead of carrying round multiple books on a given day, you would just have one nifty gadget that carries them all for you.
Meanwhile, people who would never consider picking up a book before are now reading Robinson Crusoe on their e-reader or phone on the way to work. Digital books are opening the doors of literature to a much wider audience. Neil Denny, editor of the industry journal The Bookseller, thinks the e-book will “soften people up” for a future where reading a book is going to be a far richer experience. Imagine a digital book that doesn’t only present words and pictures, but perhaps audio, video or even games. Critics of the e-book who fear that it will put an end to physical books should try and see the glass as half full rather than half empty, and appreciate the rich and exciting future that the e-reader offers to the world of literature.
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We’re behind you
>> Nick Sikora
‘Their comments were disgustingly crude, blindly offensive and openly sexist. They should be ashamed of them. But they should not be fired.’ If being called a “bit of a looker” is an insult to the principles of gender equality, then consider me open to slander – as far as verbal abuse goes, that’s the kind I’m more than willing to take. In fact I wouldn’t mind being stopped in the street and made a victim of gender discrimination more often. It seems strange to me that Andy Burton, who’s above privately-spoken comments sparked a furor, was suspended for his remarks. He was, after all, quite clearly praising Sian Massey, and amongst the offcamera private company of friends no less. The case for labeling a compliment negative sexism is weak at best, and regardless - who can claim they’ve never shared an opinion of someone else’s appearance with someone they knew, much less a purely complimentary one? Unless we are to hold that all media personalities must be beyond whiter than white, the suspension of Andy Burton was the action of a broadcast company going beyond the pale to try and salvage its reputation, not the justified response to improper behavior. Meanwhile the removal of Andy Gray and Richard Keys from their posts, although wrapped up in the same sordid scandal, is a more complex affair. Unlike Andy Burton’s, their comments were disgustingly crude,
blindly offensive and openly sexist. They should be ashamed of them. But they should not be fired. The issue that lies at the heart of this debate is a matter of public vs. private. A broadcast journalist’s responsibilities lie purely within the sphere of the public a comment said amongst the company of known people with no intention of sharing it with the wider world shouldn’t be a matter for professional disciplinary action. Most of these comments were said in a closed studio surrounded by people they knew and, as far as one can tell, nobody within the studio took offense. Given that these comments were said off-the-job and never intended to reach a wider audience, to call them unprofessional would be a stretch. If it was shown to be the case that the remarks had damaged public perception of Keys and Gray to the point that the public no longer wanted to see them on television, then they wouldn’t be able to carry on with their job and Sky would be perfectly within their means to give them the sack. But dismissing them instantly, while the debate still raged and public opinion unsettled, was an unnecessary move no doubt taken to protect Sky, and not to give Keys and Gray just treatment.
9th February 2011
When the nature of Andy Gray, Andy Burton and Richard Keys’ off-air comments leaked to the public, the ensuing scandal cost Gray and Keys their job. At the same time, journalists and media figures leapt to their defence. Were they right to do so?
>> Nick Biggs ‘Such retrogressive behavior is simply intolerable when it legitimizes and encourages the unenlightened minority’
Harking back to simpler times? Some say such comments belong in the past
“While we try very hard on Top Gear not to be sexist, if a man wants to think that, then that’s fine. You should be allowed to think what you want to.” - Jeremy Clarkson. Few people were surprised when it emerged that employees of a Rupert Murdoch media service had been making sexist remarks. However, what might have raised a few eyebrows was the robust defence offered on the behalf of Andy Gray and Richard Keys from so many mainstream journalists and broadcasters. I had hoped we lived in an age where the sexism debate was closed. Apparently not. Their defenders tend to fall into one of three main categories. Firstly, there’s the: “What’s the problem? This happens all the time!” bunch. Or, as Jenny McCartney put it in The Telegraph: “If men - or women, for that matter - were routinely sacked for similar remarks, offices and factories across Britain would lie half-empty.” There may, sadly, be some truth to this assertion - systematic verbal abuse dressed up as ‘light hearted banter’ is a miserable fact of life for many women. But McCartney has her reasoning back to front. It’s because so many men get away with so much worse that drastic action is required. It needs to be stamped out and high profile cases are the place to start. To reason otherwise is simply to admit defeat. A second line of defence is the age old “Boys will be boys” argument. This was the unpersuasive stance of The Daily Mail’s Jackie Welsh: “Right or wrong, most men - not arty lefty metrosexuals, but the vast majority of blokes - appreciate the game because it offers male only companionship. They want a place where they can be Neanderthal, where they can swear, behave badly, let off steam and, yes, be sexist.” I suppose that makes me an “arty lefty metrosexual.” The fact that Welsh is willing to crayon such a crude stereotype is almost as
offensive as Gray and Keys own comments. What’s more remarkable is that she is willing to acknowledge the possibility of football without sexism, and in the very next sentence excuse those who abduct the sport as a pretext for sexist behavior. Besides, even if “boys” simply do have “to be boys”, they shouldn’t be allowed to use TV as a recruitment ground for their seedy haven. Finally, there’s the “No matter what everyone else thinks, I have the right to be a bigot” argument. This is Jeremy Clarkson’s preferred rationale, who excavates this age old line of reasoning every time one of his crude, pseudo-ideologies clashes with the reflective majority. It’s sad really: he’s probably under the delusion of righteous political indignation. Legally, of course, Clarkson is right: he is entitled to his primitive outlook. Freedom of expression is, after all, the joy of liberalism. But it is here that Clarkson misses the point - the pair weren’t found guilty for harboring thoughts; they were found guilty for acting on them - in the workplace and public arena. Such retrogressive behavior is simply intolerable when it legitimizes and encourages the unenlightened minority. And no Jeremy, this intolerance doesn’t stem from some Socialist Mind Control Experiment, but from the basis of mutual respect between the sexes. And no Jeremy, this isn’t a sign of the times, the war on sexism is centuries old. That a branch of the media thought it their duty to defend Gray and Keys is disappointing but unsurprising. You would have hoped that porous rationalizations could have been shielded from such public exposure so that the media mights have presented a united front in condemning the proliferation of sexism. Unfortunately, whether in the chase for readers, or as part of a wider political or moral agenda, it appears there are still few depths to which broadcasters and journalists are not willing to stoop.
9th February 2011
To the Editors... Editorial Walk like an Egyptian Revolution, counterrevolution and gunboat diplomacy - switch on the news at any given moment and it’s certain that change will be the topic on the agenda. As autocrats, kleptocrats and despots across the Middle East look anxiously toward their populace in sudden fear that some of them might begin to feel the winds of change, it’s clear that, for many people in that particular subcontinent, lifestyles and politics are unlikely to feel very much the same again. Well, they say that art imitates life and here at the Guardian we’re certainly no exception. As we enter a new year, we bring with it a new layout, and one we hope will help bring the paper up to date and à la mode. The most significant change in this update is the introduction of section-specific colour schemes and banners in order to help set apart our various different areas. We also decided to add a brief contents section at the front, so you can find what you’re looking for quickly, a banner on the front page pointing to featured content, and a little bit more besides. This update is part of a series of renovations we’ve been making to the Guardian’s output throughout the year. InSight was given an overhaul right the way back in September, aiming to lend it a cleaner, more refined template. The website came next in November, updating it to what we hope is a flashier, sharper design, and this change, to the main body of the paper itself, was a natural conclusion to those moves. But we’re not stopping there. The Guardian itself, that is to say, the organisation as a whole, will hopefully be changing for the better in order to gain some form of constitution in the weeks to come. A document governing institutional practices and output is standard fare for most media services, particularly ones with a responsibility to the public, and it’s something of an oddity that the Guardian has gone without one for so many years. As it is you - the students of Glasgow University - who we’re here to represent, we feel it’s important that you all have a say in how the paper is run. That’s why we’d like to hear any suggestions you may have regarding output and institutional practice, in order to help us better serve you. If you have any suggestions on future changes, opinions on the ones we’ve made already or would like to see anything done differently in future, feel free to drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org We hope you enjoy reading it and as always, feel free to drop into our meetings if you want to lend a hand.
Glasgow University 8th December 2010
The Habit of Art
Sean Greenhorn reviews Gareth Edwards' debut
Two students take different perspectives on Alan Bennett's new play
Academics in revolt as senior managers attempt to 'shift balance of power' Nick Sikora Exclusive DOCUMENTS OBTAINED BY the Guardian have revealed unpublicised plans by the University to reduce academic influence within the University Court.
The Court, which is comprised of 25 sitting members, oversees the allocation of resources within the University as well as creating and administering strategic plans for the institution. The new plans will see lay members of Court, who are usually sought for their expertise in areas
such as law and business, more than double in number from five to eleven. Lay members are recruited externally from the University, and are appointed by University Principal Anton Muscatelli. The number of academic members of Court will drop from seven seats
to four to accommodate the increase, while General Council representation, which includes all previous graduates and academic staff, will drop from five members to two. The proposal, termed Draft Ordinance 206, will allow senior management to command a greater proportion of the Court’s 25 seats in
coordination with their appointees, resulting in a shift in the balance of power from the academic body to the University executive. This has lead to fears that the historic authority will devolve into a rubber stamp for senior management plans. (continued on page 5)
Three arrests in GUU gatecrash
Nick Sikora THREE PROTESTERS HAVE been arrested following an attempted break-in at the Glasgow University Union (GUU). The attempt, which occurred on Friday 26 November, was part of a wider protest against cuts to higher education. Demonstrators attempted to gain access to the GUU when it was learned that the building was scheduled to host the annual Glasgow University Conservative Association (GUCA) St. Andrews Dinner. Approximately 50 demonstrators had assembled for the event, many in the mistaken belief that Scottish Conservatives president, Annabel Goldie, would be in attendance. Police were called to the scene when several tried to storm the GUU, hoping to chain themselves to the union’s Reading Room where the dinner was taking place. Eight police vans and two squad cars were dispatched to the scene in an effort to prevent attacks to the union's guests and property. Three demonstrators, two men aged 25 and one aged 20, were (continued on page 6)
'Kettled': Police block the entrance to Strathclyde University as students stage an occupation in the hallway.
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National protests >> page 2
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The Glasgow University Guardian is editorially independent of the SRC and University. All complaints should be adressed to the editors, who can be reached via the contact details above. This newspaper is funded through and supported by the Glasgow University Students' Representitive Council.
Letters Guardian, I’m just writing in to say that, for once, I’m happy with a campus occupation. Traditionally, Anti-Cuts Action Network have a habit of occupying buildings on campus that are otherwise being used by students to further their education. When they do this, they do no damage except to anyone but their contemporaries. The blunt irony in a group of people occupying a teaching facility so that nobody can learn there, to make a point that more people should be able to, er, have access to higher
education, seems to be lost on these latter-day Lenins in their anxiety to be seen as leaders of the next revolution. But for once, in the occupation of the Hetherington, we have a demonstration that actually benefits students on campus. Reopening a previously shut building, giving students free access, running free events and services and generally aiding the community is finally an action that can be commended. Let’s just hope that these protestors learn from this development, and can work to further both their cause and that of the people around them in future. Christina Anderson
By the time this edition of the Guardian has landed on your lap, procedures to completely change the organisation which represents the students of the University of Glasgow will be well underway. A variety of individuals with competing views about how students should be represented at this University will be scheming away in different corners of Glasgow planning on how they can become a part of the council which represents students view across the University. If we had to give them any advice, we’d say good posters and tasty sweeties would be the answer. The nominations period for the SRC’s spring elections closes on 11th February. Following that there’s a tense three weeks of buildup to the elections proper- which will see a field of candidates battling for election for every seat in on the students’ representative council. It’s up to each of the candidates to put forward a good enough manifesto and publicity campaign to encourage you to vote for them, but we urge you to consider each candidate and use your vote wisely. Voting is conducted online and couldn’t be easier- it’ll take under a minute to register a vote for a candidate, and you can do so from any computer with an internet connection. Make sure on the 2nd and 3rd of march not to ignore the a sea of enthusiastic, tshirt-ed sweetie weilders, listen to their pleas and promises and use your vote. The second thing we’ve got going on this month in SRC-land is a new student-led award scheme to recognise excellent teachers around the University and give them a bit of well-deserved thanks. At the SRC we’ve been told by numerous students that they don’t feel great teachers often get the recognition they deserve. We’re always on the look out for anything that can help the world spin that wee bit happier and thought what a brilliant idea it would be to let students nominate excellent teachers and recognise the fantastic individuals who go out of their way to enable and support students year after year. After month of planning, we’re proud to present the inaugural edition of our new Prizes for Excellent Teachers Awards (P.E.Ts). Following the 7th of February you can nominate your favourite lecturers, tutors, administrators and technicians across eight different categories. All you need to do is find two other people who also think the person you want to nominate has taught them well and nominate them either using our slick online form or if you fancy an oldstyle papyrus form to fill out you can pick one up on level three in the Fraser Building. Nominations close on 27th February, so get your forms in pronto. Following the inevitable flurry of nominations, we’ll be holding an awards ceremony for the teachers and those that nominated them on the 22nd of March to celebrate the inspiring individuals who make up our University.
9th February 2011
Glasgow Tigers maul Mustangs Glasgow 58 - 0 Northumbria
Joe Mclean GLASGOW UNIVERSITY TIGERS hosted their first home game of the season against Northumbria Mustangs in the BUAFL on Sunday 23rd January. The Border League rivals made the journey north over Hadrian’s wall hoping for victory, but as they travelled home battered and bruised, the Mustangs could only dream of building such a defence at Garscube. Glasgow dominated this game from the off and the scoreline demonstrates the gulf in class displayed on Sunday. At times it seemed building a wall was going to be the only way to stop the maurauding Tigers. The stats from the game also make for interesting reading, as Glasgow continually punished a weak Mustangs team. The Tigers offense gained a total 642 yards, including 508 rushing and 142 passing. Star performers on the offense team, who tore the Mustangs apart from every angle included Running Back Lewis King: 20 carries, 274 yards and 2 touch-
Pedal power kick starts GUSA’s Health and Wellbeing Week Joe Mclean GUSA HOSTED ITS FIRST Health & Wellbeing week from 24th – 30th January. The week consisted of a variety of seminars, activity sessions and taster events for all levels of exercise, health and wellbeing. During the week access to all Sport and Recreation facilities across campus was free of charge, to encourage as large a participation as possible from students. The focus was on sport and exercise, nutrtition and mental wellbeing alongwith oter activities. The week kicked off with a talk and Q&A from former Glasgow student and ‘man who cycled the world’, Mark Beaumont. A GUSA spokesperson stated: “Those who managed to attend the launch event last night experienced a truly inspirational and motivating talk from Mark Beaumont. He spoke in length about his two outstanding
adventures to date, as well as a sneak preview of the next expedition he will be undertaking”. Other events throughout the week included AerobathonKick, a 90 minute session bursting with energy at the Activity Hall. Diet & NutritionKick, was a chance to find out how to reduce your body fat and achieve optimum health and energy through eating the right foods. Elsewhere at the exercise studio in the Stevenson there was the chance to partake in the ‘BuildingPerformance SportThis’ a one hour session guaranteed to improve your sporting performance. Training principles were explained and involved a practical session to develop students speed and agility. Over all GUSA have reported the week to be a resounding success and are hoping for bigger and better things for Health & Wellbeing at Glasgow in 2012 and the years to follow.
downs, Running Back Winston Ojei: 8 carries, 186 yards and 1 touchdown and Running Back Jonas Baziukas: 3 carries, 8 yards and 2 touchdowns. Along with Tigers President and Wide Receiver Dave Mann: 5 catches, 110 yards and 1 touchdown. The Tigers not only attacked at a feroucious pace but they also defended their territory with all their might. The defence conceded only 80 yards in total with 1 Safety (worth 2 points) and 2 interceptions. The defence team stats and stars are Line backer Rob Gilmore: 9 tackles, 1 sack, Line backer Phil Najemy: 7 tackles, 4 for loss of yards, Corner back Paddy Murphy: 6 tackles, 2 for loss of yards, 2 deflected passes and 1 interception, Ewan Beesley had several tackels and one interception of defence as well as 3 receptions and 1 touchdown on offence along with Peter ‘Sledge’ Neil who was dominant through the middle of the D-Line all day. Glasgow displayed why there are league leaders and this victory will be even sweeter as they celebrate at one of their annual Superbowl Party at O’Couture this weekend.
Students saddle up for epic journey Joe Mclean ONE GROUP WHO CERTAINLY took inspiration from Mark Beaumont’s Health Week talk are the three students from Glasgow who are going to embark on a ‘Cycle to Sahara’, a challenging cycle from Glasgow to the Sahara Desert, in aid of charity. The students, Donnie Moonie, 4th year Pharmacology, Chris Millar, 3rd year Psychology and Charlotte Slaymark 3rd year Environmental Chemist, along with Matty Owen, a 2nd year Physiotherapist at St. Georges in London. They are teaming together for 10 weeks to have a bike ride like no other. Planning is very much underway and the chance to meet with Mark Beaumont during Health & Wellbeing week was a dream come true for the charity cyclists. They listened eagerly as Mark described in great detail his world record breaking cycle around the word and through the Americas. As Charlotte explained: “He emphasised the struggle of planning such an expedition and that really hit
home for us” After hearing about their plans Mark explained to the group that: “Half the battle is getting sponsorship and getting yourself to the start line, I wasn’t a cyclist when I started this, and I still don’t think I’m that good”! Charlotte was thrilled to meet him and stated “He wished us all the best of luck and hoped we have a lot of fun. It was a great boost for us”. The expedition will take them through England and into France, across the Pyrenees, into Spain and over to Morocco to be met by the Atlas Mountains. They will be faced with hot climates, unknown terrain and unfamiliar cultures, and like Mark they will also be experiencing sleeping in tiny tents as they plan on carrying equipment on board their bikes, so space is at a premium. The team consists of members from a range of GUSA sports clubs, each bringing different skills to the team. Charlotte commented that “this summer we will be putting our sporting abilities and endurance to the test”.
They are aiming to raise £10,000 for ‘Right to Play’. The charity’s mission is “To improve the lives of children in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world by using the power of sport and play for development, health and peace.” Charlotte feels strongly about the role sport can play in charity and states “We feel as we have all been given ample opportunities to develop our sporting abilities through our childhoods and at University we want to give to those that haven’t. Our target will not be achievable without help of course”. More information can be found on their Facebook community page ‘Cycle to Sahara’, or through emailing cycle2sahara@hotmail. co.uk. Donations can be made at www.justgiving.com/Cycle-toSahara. The team is currently in the planning stages and is always looking for sponsors to help with bike and camping equipment so if you have any information for the Team we they would be grateful for any support from the student body and staff.
9th February 2011
GUWFC search for GK
Athletics breakdown 7.27
Pole Vault 2nd Jamie Sinclair
Men 400m Final 2nd Andrew Kerr 4th Kenneth Love
Women 60m Hurdles 2nd Judith McNicol 10.13
Women 400m Final 1st Jo Patterson
Men 200m Final 2nd Jamie Sinclair 3rd Matthew Flynn 4th C.Nyamutaie
22.82 24.39 24.46
Men 800m Final 1st Scott Macauley
Women 200m Final 2nd Jo Patterson 3rd Sarah Smith
Women 800m Final 2nd Beth Duff 4th Iona Campbell
Men 60m Final 1st Cameron Clark Women 60m Final 2nd Sarah Smith 6th Jo Patterson
Men Long Jump 3rd C.Nyantale Men Triple Jump 2nd Cameron Clark
Women Long Jump 2nd Fiona Laurie
Women Triple Jump 1st Beth McNicol 6th Iona Campbell
Women Shot Put 2nd Fiona Laurie
Men 1500m Final 1st Simon McClunty 4.15.22 4th Sam Longford 4.35.28 Women 1500m Final 2nd Beth Duff 4.41.34 Women 4 x 200m Final 1st Glasgow 1.49.19 Men 4 x 400m Final 1st Glasgow A 2nd Edinburgh 3rd Glasgow B
3.34.68 3.41.07 3.41.74
3000m Men & Women Final 1st Sean Fontana 9.00.09 3rd Sam Longfield 10.12.13
Men Shot Put 2nd Sam O’Kane 6.40m
Do you have
If so the Glasgow University Women’s Football Club are on the lookout for a new goalkeeper, this could be your chance to try the beautiful game and to play for the University Women’s Football Club.
what it takes to fill the No.1 jersey?
For more info contact club captain Stephanie Reid 07503850494 or email@example.com
GURC member raises her game for charity Joe Mclean A member of the Glasgow University Riding Club is aiming to raise as much money as possible on a Charity Trek to help children in Uganda. Tess Murphy will be going to Kinyamaseke, in Uganda, to teach English at St. Barnabas school for 5 weeks from the beginning of August. During this time she will live with a host family and is aiming to do everything she can to help during her time in the country. Northern Uganda has been ravaged by war in recent years, with a rebel army causing chaos for those
"Education plays a huge roll in these children's lives, allowing them to get back into a normal routine and focus on the future". To help raise funds for the trip Tess will be walking the Three Peaks in Yorkshire in March with her family. She is hoping to raise enough money to donate to the school and to buy supplies to take over on her trip. “I would love if anyone could sponsor me, anything at all, no matter how small would make such a difference to their lives” For more information visit the facebook fundraising page ‘Mandy & Tess’ trip to Uganda’ or email
living there. Although there is now a certain amount of peace, there are still many people living in displacement camps, and many children have lost parents due to the war, or disease. There are also many children who have been left traumatised due to being forced into a life of slavery by the rebels, with some being forced into working as child soldiers or domestic/sex slaves. There have even been cases of children who have been forced to kill their own parents in order to survive. Tess is hoping her time teaching in Uganda can enrich the childrens lives along with bringing some sense of normality back. As Tess explains:
The club caters for anyone and everyone. Wheter you are a complete novice or a rising star, the tennis club welcomes a wide range of abilities in what is becoming one of the fastest growing clubs on campus. The club aims to expand and promote itself not just as a sports club, but also as afun, welcoming association. With the recent increase in membership, this demonstrates their ambitions. Of course it’s not all about the tennis. Training sessions are usually followed by socialising and activities. Off court the club keep themselves busy raising money for charities and various sponsored events. For those wanting to compete the club have a 1st and 2nd team, who both finished top of the Scottish leagues recently. This year, for the first time, the club ahve 4 teams participating in National leagues
and with extra coaching and indoor sessions, they are hoping for another strong finish in their respective league tables. If you fancy checking GUT out ,the teams have upcoming competitions including: Men's 1st Team on the 9th of February away to Leeds . Closer to home the Men's 2nd Team play on the 9th of February at home (David Lloyd Centre, Anniesland) to Strathclyde University at 12pm. The Woman's 1st Team also play on the 9th of February (David Lloyd Centre, Anniesland), they are at home to Leeds University at matches start at 12pm. For more information on the Tennis club visit their website at http://www.gutennis.co.uk/ for further details or visit their facebook page (Glasgow University Tennis Club).
Get involved: Anyone for Tennis? Joe Mclean ANYONE WHO WATCHED Andy Murray’s poor showing at the Australian Open Final may have found a new meaning for the phrase “new balls please”. If you think you could do any better and want to be the next Tennis superstar then the Glasgow University Tennis Club (GUT) might be for you. They have 125 members and play from 1-4pm on Mondays , Wednesdays and Fridays at Downahill tennis courts on Dowanside Road. They also play on Sunday evenings at the David Lloyd Centre in Anniesland. Both the Wednesday and Sunday sessions are coached by David Knox and is for all skill levels. Anyone can join GUT and the annual membership is only £35, making the sport affordable and accessible.
Inside: Superbowl Sunday for American Football Team also: GUSA Health and Wellbeing Week reviewed
9th February 2011
Trophy triumph for Glasgow athletes Dasha Miller
Joe Mclean IT WAS A CLEAN SWEEP FOR GLASGOW UNIVERSITY at the Kelvin Hall International Sports Arena on Saturday 5th Feb as they were crowned overall champions on their home track. Glasgow could hardly contain their delight as they won a treble of trophies including the Spencer French Trophy (Inter-Area), the Appleton Trophy (Edinburgh V Glasgow) and the Iain Cosgrove Championship to go along with their medal haul. All three trophies were won after a determined display by the student athletes, competing against rivals from Dundee, Edinburgh and Stirling Universities. They triumphed in a wide range of track and field events including 60m, 200m,
Shot Put, High Jump, Pole Vault and the Long Jump. Track and Field Athletics amongst the Scottish Universities is designed to be a friendly, competitive programme, with a mix of exceptionally talented student athletes competing along with those new to the sport. The Glasgow University Athletic Club provide their team with excellent access to coaching and training facilities, and their hard work in training paid off as they romped to victory at the Kelvin Hall. Club Captains Colin Severin and Iona Campbell were delighted at winning the trophies and medals, and noted some exceptional performances. Colin stated: “I’m very pleased with the overall performances and results of evryone today, but some athletes deserve extra praise for their efforts including Cameron Clark who won the Men’s 60m final and Andrew Kerr, who although 2nd in the Men’s 400m final, achieved a
personal best of 51.19, which is a fantastic improvement”. For the female athletes Iona commended the performances of Jo Patterson and Sarah Smith, who competed in numerous events throughout the day to show their commitment to the club and their hunger to win. Jo, who we recently featured in the Guardian, competed at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi for her native Northern Ireland. At the Kelvin Hall, representing Glasgow, she won the Women’s 400m Final with a time of 58.38. and the Women’s 4x200m Final. Meanwhile Sarah Smith managed a respectable 2nd place in the Women 60m Final. Overall it was a fantastic day at the Kelvin Hall for all of those asscociated with the Athletics Club, and many can be proud of their achievements.
(Full list of Glasgow awards, page 15)
The Clyde | Black Swan | Free Hetherington | Iron & Wine
illustration: Jeni Allison
Listings Jeni Allison Visual Art 8th February until 5th March Elastic Frames curated by Coirn Sworn Transmission Until 9th February Glasgow School of Art's Vis-Com Work in Progress Show The Lighthouse Until 18th February Sophie MacPherson Sorcha Dallas Until 19th February Dirk Bell Modern Institute Niall MacDonlad and Rollou Panagiotou Swg3 Until 26th February The Inventors of Tradition 21 Stockwell Street 18th February until 27th March Keith Farquar Tramway 19th February until 13th March Alec Mackenzie & Dan Miller David Dale Gallery and Studios Until 3rd May Hertie Querty GOMA Theatre 12th February From Where I am Standing, Junction 25 Tramway 25th and 26th February Penetrator Tramway Comedy 14th February John Bishop SECC Dance 22nd -23rd February Alley 2 Kings Theatre Opera / Musicals 15th - 26th February Scottish Opera, Orlando Theatre Royal 5th -19th February We Will Rock You Kings Theatre
Bonnie Clyde Aiden Hall
he River Clyde: a romanticist's dream. The flowing artery that provided a life force to the dormant bishopric of Glasgow; the pin that pierced the frustrated balloon of preindustrial globalisation; the lungs that inhaled the wealth of the Empire, arrogantly spluttering back with conquering force. And now? A graveyard of these powerful days, for Glasgow’s Clyde once more lies dormant. Or so it may seem to the romanticist. For the Clyde may not have retained its image as a symbol of industrial prowess, and to an extent has become a stage for displaying commercial interest, yet regeneration is underway. Moreover, whilst imagery displayed by those adoptees of pre-Raphaelite optimism, such as John Atkinson Grimshaw, conveyed the Clyde with the mystery and vivacity that is so tempting to adhere to, it must be asked whether or not this a true representation of the cultural role the industrial river played within Victorian cities? For tenuous
the morphology of the Clyde, but the emotions of the people themselves. So, while artistic interpretations suggest art as a more historically accurate representation of a place than the place itself, the question of the Clyde’s potential as a romanticist status in the future, remains unanswered. While the centre of the city, firmly rooted in the Glasgow Grid rising from North of the Clyde to Garnethill on one axis, and stretching from the M8 to the Merchant City on the other, is unlikely to lose its prominence as the business and tourist heart of Glasgow, the Clyde will, once again, gain a growing interest, perhaps more widely felt in other former industrial cities such as London and Liverpool. With more than 400 projects on the Clyde, either in planning or Photograph: Olivia Vitazkova having been constructed since 2003, and with the majority being either metaphors aside, art that appeals to our own strictly, or including, residential and romantic aspirations often remains a dramatic public amenities, the future for the Clyde is whimsicality from the reverie of another: the positive. While some areas may face gentrificaexcited storyteller after too many whiskies. Or tion, social and council housing schemes aim to something like that. ensure social diversity on the Clyde. And with Thus, while the Clyde begins its recovery, after internationally recognised postmodern excurthe misfortune of global economics outcom- sions, in the form of the Armadillo and the Transpeting much of its shipbuilding infrastructure, port Museum, international attention returns to romanticism, once again, becomes relevant. This the Clyde once more. But can the redevelopers, time, however, replacing the potentially jaded the new romantics if you will, reproduce the nostalgia created by the art of romantic Britain, imagery of a bustling Broomielaw boasted by there is an optimistic anticipation, as felt by those Atkinson Grimshaw? Can such an emphasis on 19th century artists in which it was composed. housing produce the required touristic lure that When Atkinson Grimshaw painted his deeply would generate further developments and lead atmospheric night scenes of Broomielaw; the to continued growth? Or can the arts themselves, wonders of emerging industrial technology, such such as architecture, elevate the river to reflect as gas lighting illuminating shop windows, were Glasgow’s prominence as a leading European depicted. In fact, due to the sheer significance city once again. Time, and, predictably, money of technological transition at the time, his work will tell. may be an even truer overall representation of Aiden Hall is studying Architecture at the the Clyde at the time, encompassing more than Glasgow School of Art
Parliamo Glasgow? Jeni Allison
erhaps it was just me, but this Christmas holidays seemed really long. Not in a sort of 'Oh God, I'm so bored,' kind of way, but in a lovely, dragging out of nice activities, old friends and copious nights (and days) of drinking. I do love going home, but on returning I am instantly reminded why I choose to study in Glasgow . Glasgow is up for a good time; 'You'll have mere (more) fun at a Glasgow stabbing than an Edinburgh Wedding' as the saying goes. Genuinely one the best things I've seen this year was on the door of the Savoy Centre, which unfortunately was closed for the day. Simply pinned up was a sheet of average A4 paper, on which had been crudely scrawled: 'Shut Aw Day.' And why not? Who needs a fancy well made 'closed' sign. I got the message; the Savoy Centre was shut. For how long? Aw day. Deal with it. I am amused by phonetic spellings of words which are suggestive of a Glaswegian accent; just so you have my level. But if that's your level
too then GOMA's current exhibition (and to be honest the first thing I've liked at GOMA in a long time) is for you. Hertie Querty (Hertie 'fond of fun and merry,' Querty - 'in good spirits, full of fun and mischief') is a sort of contemporary art funfair. As with all funfairs there's seedy undertones, attention-grabbing visuals and banter which treads precariously between jovial and threatening. Not all the pieces are Glasgow-based, or even by Glasgow-bred artists, but there is a genuine feeling that a Glaswegian sensibility has played a part in the conception of most of the pieces. George Wyllie's 'Tropicana Glasgow' showcases the elements of Glasgow's coat and arms, arranged totem-like on a palm tree. There are echos of Stanley Baxter's 1970s mock 'how to learn a language' television show “Parliamo Glasgow.” The idea of Glasgow as a exotic, far off island might seem laughable (just have a look out your window at the weather), but Wyllie pitches this just right.
There are fourteen artists represented, nine of which studied at the Glasgow School of Art. Arguably, David Shrigley's contributions to Hertie Querty are the highlights. His crude commentary on human condition are poignant whilst bizarrely funny – one drawing depicts an overweight man lying on the ground. 'DRUNK AGAIN.' is scrawled across the top in much the same manner as my beloved 'closed aw day.' 'I'M NOT DRUNK, I"VE BEEN HARPOONED,' comes the equally scrawled reply. As irrelevant as I'm making this sound, the exhibition is a sort of treasure chest of important works, with a couple of Greyson Perry's vases on show, and Roderick Buchanan's Gobstopper which won the Beck's Future's Prize in 2000. This exhibition is full of 'the banter,' and has enough substance to give you your cultural fix that'll last “aw day.”
Hertie Querty runs until May 3rd
PA G E
arts Dirk Bell at the Modern Institute Maija Kappler
irk Bell’s new show at the Modern Institute explores the interaction between technology and human experience. Bell uses an eclectic variety of mediums, from pastel on canvas to industrial steel beams to the incorporation of computer screens and an interactive video game. The result is a diverse and thought-provoking exhibition that aims to explore the way technology is integrated in modern life. The first piece is a huge, imposing metal structure made of steel beams. It is an industrial piece, massive and commanding. Near it, hung on the wall just by the entrance, is a large canvas depicting a somewhat ambiguous image. Its title, “Bite,” suggests an apple core, although it has aesthetic similarities to lungs, or even a human heart. With warm, painterly strokes and rough, uneven edges, the canvas provides a striking counterpoint to the coldness of the nearby steel. The two seem completely dissimilar, but the artist manages to connect them, by way of a small, shrunken apple core resting on one of the steel beams. It’s a slight detail, but in such a controlled environment it speaks volumes. The juxtaposition of steel to canvas is a concept Bell revisits later in the exhibit. Near “FREELOVE,” a steel sculpture displayed on a glass pedestal, there are two more canvases, both depicting an eye. Unlike the larger steel sculpture, which is composed entirely of straight lines, this one includes circular shapes that seem to mimic the shape of the eyes. Again, Bell is able to subtly link images that seem completely incongruous. The most striking part of the exhibition is “Merkaba,” a massive glass and steel sculpture in the centre of the room suspended from the ceiling with wires. Largely composed of trans-
parent glass, the interior is almost completely full of neon lights, plugs, and a tangle of wires and cables. A thick coil of wire connects the sculpture to a snare drum, which is set up by a deconstructed computer, a pair of speakers, and various pieces of sound equipment. By way of a game set up on the computer, the visitors are given the opportunity to control the piece itself. The inclusion of this interactive element lets viewers engage with the show in a new way; by allowing us to become participants, Bell gives us
insight to the world he has created. The exhibition space at the Modern Institute is surely well known by those who frequent Glasgow’s art scene. To an outsider, though, the location seemed both an impressive space and a fitting venue for such an exhibition. The space is neat, sparse, and clean – but imperfectly so. The scuffed floors and high ceilings give it a slightly factory-like atmosphere. Just across from the towering “Merkaba,” the large window looking out onto Osborne Street seems particularly
appropriate. Watching people walk down the busy street, past the bright lights and cold steel acts as a deliberate parallel to Bell’s stated goal of examining societal behaviours. Bell’s work has been exhibited in Glasgow before, his show “Made in Germany” was on display at the Modern Institute in October and November of last year.
The Exhibition continues until 19th February
Image Courtesy: The Modern Institute
The Baltic Way...In Glasgow? Iveta Jaugaite
hotographic exhibition “The Baltic Way” runs until the 28th of February in the Glasgow University Chapel. I was intrigued, not only because I felt inclined to respect the history of my origins, but mostly because a photographic exhibition of such an event in Glasgow, Scotland seemed to mark a cultural and historical respect of Baltic culture to a extent I could have hardly anticipated. I half-heartedly expected to see the same pictures I had memorised out of my history textbooks - stark, monochrome snapshots my Grandparents took, always comparing those historic documentary pictures lacking in feeling to the atmosphere my parents talked so much about. The astonishment so many Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians felt in looking at this exhibition was quite unexpected - out of all places, in Glasgow, in this Gothic Chapel, we see our history looking at us.
In August 23rd, 1989, at the 50th anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, two million Balts formed a live chain across Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, protesting against the undeserved terror and the loss of independence within the Soviet Union. This inspiring event is well-known in the Baltics and the significance of it is often compared to that of the fall of the Berlin Wall. So, not to mention its historical heritage, one is inclined to admire the atmosphere that prevailed leading to such sense of community. Now, 22 years later, even though it mostly is meant to be left as a historically defined period, the photographs in the exhibition at Glasgow University evoke so many emotions that we can only wander at the grandiosity of such an event. An exhibition so overwhelmingly out of place considering the context it is emerging from: Some Eastern Europeans with their now silly-looking glasses, some wearing traditional
clothing, some just coming from field works, all with proud, angry and willing looks, raising their hands together and demanding something which now seems to have become the precondition of any day - the right to individuality and identity. Endless lines vanish in to the horizons of these pictures, faces emerging, skirts of pregnant women flattened against their bellies and fashionable square glasses framing all too serious or amused faces . Almost all black and white, only a few photos are there to mark history – and those are mounted in series of film scripts, thus separating them from the rest – in contrast with those which are there to convey feeling, those which take as their primary focus the expressions of the people. There is a strong feeling of texture, the 90s emerging from gothic walls, vividly captured looks and expressions, most impressively of all in the photographs taken by Gunars Janaitis. Captured posters
scream chopped phrases evoking determinism to face consequences that are to come about: “Stop Genocide! We demand freedom!” and, finally, a collage made out of extracts of the day-after newspaper pages from all around the world, echoing and interpreting the event with admiration and too-often careful consideration. This exhibition does not just remind us what happened, it actually conveys so much feeling and intimacy that one is inclined to wonder about his or her own life and generation. That is what I did whilst looking into these photographs which produce so much artistic value, and thinking about an art that brings back history into the present, maybe even all too vividly.
The Exhibition runs until the 28th of February
film The Brothers Coen
>> Sean Greenhorn
he prolific brothers Joel and Ethan Coen return this month with their take on the 1968 Charles Portis novel True Grit, a classic western story of a young girl seeking redemption for the murder of her father. The novel has already been adapted for the big screen; in 1969 John Wayne headlined an adaptation, directed by Henry Hathaway. To adapt a tale that already has such a strong representation on screen is a risky action, but one that is indicative of the Coen's career as a whole. Their assured cinematic representation of disparate genres has earned them their own place as an adjective in film criticism ('a Coen-esque use of narrative', for example). Stretching right back to their debut Blood Simple they employ sombre narrative tones with short, jarring bursts of humour and violence that ought to upset the established pathos, but instead serves to compliment and punctuate. While Joel Coen studied filmmaking, Ethan obtained a degree in philosophy from Princeton. This can be seen in the way that they explore the conceits of classical narrative cinema with reverent pastiches, and can also be found in their 1998 film The Big Lebowski - a piece which depicts a neo-noir tale that throws their now classic divine idiot into a plot as thick as that of Howard Hawks' The Big Sleep (1946). A regular motif of the brothers' work is the need for monetary gain, often through morally questionable means, with greed acting as a catalyst for recurring instances of blackmail and infidelity. They do not wholly bemoan this attitude toward money however; more often it is a 'macguffin' to keep their stories ticking along. There is no questioning the financial motivation of Ed Crane in The Man Who Wasn't There or Llewellyn Moss in their contemporary (neo)western masterpiece No Country for Old Men. These are men who see dollar signs as an escape from their average existences, as temptation manifests itself as a travelling businessman's scheme or a cash-stuffed duffel bag. The Coens aren't shy of depicting characters conforming to the looselytermed 'Idiot Plot' either, and yet it is demonstrative of their talents as storytellers that they can create such a strong sense of verisimilitude for their often bumbling characters to be accepted. Despite these unities and recurring motifs in their work it is important to emphasise the fact each film stands alone as complete narrative works. There is no such thing as a 'Coeniverse', Burn After Reading's Osborne Cox appears to be from another world and not the striking art deco past of The Hudsucker Proxy or the prohibition era of Miller's Crossing. It is possible to enjoy one film and not another, yet it is more likely that if you are in tune with their acerbic wit and meditations on human existence then you are going to appreciate their entire oeuvre. Regardless of similar or dissimilar themes, it can never be argued that their movies aren't unique. They have earned the right to create films away from the influence of studio's demanding representation of what is kitsch; Ethan claims that "the movie people let us play in the corner of the sandbox and leave us alone. We're happy here." As long as they're creating great films in that sandbox corner, the 'movie people' (be that the studios, the distributors or most importantly; the audience) are happy too.
Open Your Eyes to Spanish Cinema Max Horberry talks to leading Spanish film critic Lluís Bonet.
panish cinema is not always given the credit it deserves. The country seems mostly famous for mainstream films like Pan’s Labyrinth and The Orphanage but in reality Spain has a lot more to offer a film lover. Its history and the wake that Franco’s dictatorship left in the hearts of many Spaniards can be seen in many of Spain’s contemporary films and has made Spanish filmmaking one of the most interesting in the world. Spain played an important role in the prehistory of cinema. Fructoso Gelabert, from Barcelona, made his own filming camera and is attributed with making the first ever fiction film in Spain, the 20 minute Argument in a Café. The following year he filmed the documentary Train Arrival to the Norte Station in Barcelona. It is important to place him in time and to remember that the Lumiere brothers, inventors of the film camera, made their first presentation two years earlier and among the films presented was Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat. An even bigger role was played by Segundo de Chomón, he became a rival of Georges Méliès in the innovation of the colouring of images, special effects and animation. Guardian was privileged enough to be granted an interview with Lluís Bonet. Bonet has been a film critic for the Catalonian newspaper La Vanguardia for the past 30 years, and says that these two examples show "the pioneering role developed in Spain within the field of world cinema." Bonet criticizes the effect that Hollywood film-making has had on European cinema. "It is clear," he says, "that the present day situation is very different to that of those pioneers due to the power Hollywood has in the industry."
When asked about English-Language Spanish films – a new phenomena in which films are made in the English language but are produced and made by Spanish firms, such as The Machinist (dir. Brad Anderson) and The Others (dir. Alejandro Amenabar) – Bonet seems to consider it a negative sign. He feels it is an indication of Spain losing its identity in favor of trying to find success abroad. He says that "except for Pedro Almodóvar," possibly Spain’s most famous contemporary director, "filming in English seems quite necessary nowadays if the aim is to reach the international market." These English-language Spanish films, however, can be seen as an indication that the world is turning to Spain for guidance. Steven Soderbergh, an American director, turned to Spanish firms for help when it came to making Che Parts 1 and 2. Even Woody Allen, in 2002, said he hoped that the Spanish "will continue to lead the way in film-making." Since the end of Franco’s dictatorship, Spain has felt the need to push the boundaries of cinema and as a result it has become one of the most liberal film-making countries. During the dictatorship Franco banned a large number of films (such as Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris) because he and his government felt they were unsuitable for the people of his Catholic country. There is the famous example of Mogambo in which the plot has Grace Kelly married to Donald Sinden. In the Spanish version the dialogue was changed in the dubbing to make the two characters not husband and wife but brother and sister. Why? Because Grace Kelly has romantic tensions with Clarke
Gable. So it was more acceptable for a brother and sister to act almost incestuously towards each other than for a married woman to even be implied having adulterous thoughts. Spain will never fully recover from Franco. Today the one director that seems most representative of Spain and Spanish cinema is Pedro Almodóvar. He has, as Lluís Bonet put it, "managed to surpass all borders and become the most representative of Spanish films. In his films he uses characteristics, protagonists and themes which are nearly always Spanish but are also universal because feelings, emotions and fiction about life do not know frontiers." His success has reached all over the globe and with his films laden with references to Spanish identity it is impossible to deny or ignore where his films come from.
The Ward Dir. John Carpenter On general release now
>> Joshua Slater-Williams
nce upon a time, a filmmaker named John Carpenter directed a string of creative entries in the horror, sci-fi and action genres. Some of these proved to be highly influential (Halloween, The Thing, Assault on Precinct 13), while many have at least gained a notable cult status (Escape from New York, Big Trouble in Little China, They Live). Bar one film or two, Carpenter maintained a rather enviable streak of success until the 1990s, a decade in which he dabbled in ill-advised sequels (Escape from L.A.), terrible remakes (Village of the Damned), and a Chevy Chase romantic comedy about an invisible man. Excluding some TV work, The Ward marks Carpenter’s first foray into directing since 2001’s woeful Ghosts of Mars. While this new effort certainly isn’t near the poor-quality of some of the lowest points of Carpenter’s career, it’s unfortunately nothing close to a return to form. The Ward’s biggest problem is that it’s completely devoid of tension. The various twists and turns of the asylum-set story, as well as the various character traits on display, are overfamiliar in horror cinema, but this would be forgivable if they were delivered in an exciting fashion. As it is, Carpenter’s trademark wit is missing, the film is dull from a visual standpoint,
and the whole thing is over-reliant on ineffective jump-scares. Such a technique can be genuinely scary when the 'jump' comes from an unexpected but plausible place: see the tunnel sequence in Alien, or the kitchen murder in Carpenter’s own Halloween. The Ward’s jump scares all involve cutting to reveal the film’s ghostly villain – whose rubbery face effects lend her the unfortunate look of a Scooby-Doo criminal – lurking behind one of the girls, seemingly just teleporting into rooms in some cases. You’re likely to jump out of sheer force, but the lingering effect is one of humour rather than terror.
One of the film’s few good aspects is the occasionally spooky score written by Carpenter himself, perhaps in an attempt to channel earlier films of his in which he did so, and the opening title sequence based around imagery of shattering glass has a unique beauty to it. There’s also a little fun to be had with character actor and recent Mad Men star Jared Harris’ performance as the girls’ doctor, in which he almost seems to be channelling Donald Pleasance’s iconic appearance in Halloween. It’s a shame more of these influences from Carpenter’s better films couldn’t find their way into this.
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The Perfect Performance Black Swan
Dir. Darren Aronofsky On general release now
>> Rosa Downing
arren Aronofsky’s latest offering deconstructs the classical conventions of fairy-tale into a dark, intoxicating battle between art and reality. When New York’s Lincoln Center begin auditions for a modern re-telling of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, the theatre’s director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) looks for a girl who can encompass both the fearful fragility of the White Swan and the destructive sensuality of her evil twin, the Black Swan. Nina (Natalie Portman) gets the part for her virginal innocence and both she and Leroy doubt from the beginning her ability to abandon her sexual and technical insecurity in portraying the Black Swan. This insecurity swells and manifests itself as Lilly (Mila Kunis), a fellow dancer, irrepressible and less controlled, however as Leroy puts it, 'she isn’t faking it.' This is no simple story of back-stage bitchslapping however. The implicit grey area where Nina goes to in which she must face her deepest desires, like both her sexual and malignant feelings towards Lilly, to break free from her suffocating mother, her desire to hurt herself, blur the borders of her mind and our own conception of what is real and what is not. Her surroundings, such as the narrow hallways of her mother’s small apartment, the monochrome theatre, the
grey breezeblock changing rooms and mirrors on every surface intimate prison-like entrapment, and her own image as inescapable. As rehearsals commence, the confusion between the art of the ballet and its reality catalyses a descent into a sort of artistic madness that is coupled with Shakespearean motifs of infection, disease, bubbling sores and the harrowing amplification of fingernail clipping. A homage to the sort of bloody theatricality of the Grand Guignol is here evident, whilst Aronofsky’s influence from several films cannot be ignored. In particular, Nina’s almost toxic paranoia and jealousy of her double echoes that of Bette Davis’ performance in All About Eve (1950), whilst Aronofsky has cited the films of Roman Polanski, notably Rosemary’s Baby (1968) and Repulsion (1965) as great influences, both concentrating on the mental deterioration and insecurities within their leading women. It is Powell and Pressburger’s 1948 masterpiece The Red Shoes however, that lends the greatest insight into Aronofsky’s film. Vicky Page (Moira Shearer) and Nina share a common goal; to give the perfect performance. Nina’s claustrophobic upbringing, her innate desire to please the beastly seductive Leroy and Lilly’s position as artistic and sexual competition constructs a dark
parallel to the Swan Lake ballet itself. Similarly Vicky plays the part of a girl who when putting on a pair of magical ballet pumps controlled by an evil shoemaker who reflects her commanding director, is unable to stop dancing until she dies. Both she and Nina share a grim perfection because they bring their art into their reality and live out the fate of their on-stage personas. In a film industry that seems to be increasingly composed of base romantic comedies, action films and your standard group of factory-pumpedbody-part-performers, this is a welcome departure. It will do well in the award season there is
no doubt, but more than that, it is quite unlike anything before it despite internal references to other films. Aronofsky treads boldly on familiar grounds such as the psychological thriller as a genre, the cult of female destruction in slasher horror, themes of back-stage rivalry, art as spectacle and female objectification, creating something quite indefinable. A passionate, melodramatic production that leaves us questioning did Aronofsky, or Portman, or indeed any other member of the crew, experience a dwindled but similar conflict in their creation of a 'perfect' piece of original film-making.
the victim of domestic dysfunction and the typical stage mother who pushes their prodigal offspring too far (in this case it is onto the boxing glove of an opponent 20 lbs above his weight). The most effective scene of the entire film comes at a point where she collects her first son Dicky from his drug addled second home in order to bring him to a meeting she has called with her entire family, to discuss Micky's future. This scene sums up both The Fighter's strengths and its weaknesses. Russell keeps the camera on Leo's Alice as she knowingly circles to the rear of the house as we hear off camera what we know to be Dicky's inelegant exit from an upstairs window. The
physical humour is immediately undercut with saddened expressions of a disappointed mother and a knowingly guilty son. It is during the following meeting that Micky's family are introduced to his new girlfriend; Charlene Fleming, played with headstrong sincerity by Amy Adams. Charlene's influence marks the turning point for Micky as she immediately and repeatedly clashes with his mother and sisters. Sadly, the way that the script sidelines this septet is to the point of cartoon-like caricatures and one particular confrontation is robbed of all emotion by the ridiculous sight of these seven clowns cramming into one small suburban car.
The boxing scenes themselves are filmed strikingly, using techniques to evoke contemporary television coverage and blending fight commentary with impossible to hear character dialogue. While this adherence to reality is effective here in other places it is The Fighter's only real flaw. If the script were to remove a few of the sisters and make Micky as charismatic as his brother, it would allow audiences to connect more fully to the tale. As it stands though The Fighter is an exceptional film that transcends the genre of 'boxing movie' through the performances of Leo and Bale, while still swinging for the title of the 'Real' Underdog Story.
Dir. David O. Russell On general release now
>> Sean Greenhorn
t is a shame that a ridiculous comedy has already used the strap line 'A True Underdog Story'. Otherwise it could be applied very literally to David O. Russell's depiction of boxer Micky Ward's (Mark Wahlberg) trials in The Fighter. In this film O. Russell sheds the eccentricities of 1999's Three Kings or 2004's I Heart Huckabees instead creating a fairly grounded drama that puts Micky's familial life in front of his boxing career; similar to what Micky inescapably does himself. Micky is intrinsically tied to his dysfunctional family, with his seven meddling sisters, his manager Mother and his personal trainer brother, Dicky Ward. The latter two of these depicted by evocative actors Melissa Leo and Christian Bale. Human shape shifter Bale has once again morphed his physique to allow for a more full depiction of the fallen Dicky, once promising young boxer and now troubled crack addict. In spite of his diminished appearance he is a strong presence on screen, injecting Dicky with more charisma than Bruce Wayne, John Connor and Melvin Purvis combined. O. Russell establishes this, and the brother's close kinship, in a marvellous title sequence that captures them confident and comfortable amongst their neighbourhood. Equally compelling is Melissa Leo's matriarchal manager Alice Ward, who is at equal times
Rena explains it all >> Rena Niamh Smith
new decade of inspiration set Spring/ Summer 2011 alight in a blaze of glory. Harking back to an era of elegance, bohemia and edge, designers have turned en masse to the hazy days of the 1970s, a time of free-flowing, gold-tinged glamour, either reinventing the looks anew, or simply giving a nod to the aesthetics of the time. The iconic, floaty, hippy luxe of voluminous maxi dresses was everywhere. Erdem, Paul & Joe and Etro stuck to the game plan with traditional floral prints; Derek Lam threw in some leopard, Roberto Cavalli tie-dye, while Diesel showed some fabulous watercolour-like shades. John Galliano, Giambattista Valli and Marc Jacob’s maxi creations crisscrossed material over the body to give layered effects and even reveal a flash of leg here and there. This new revolution in long lengths by no means prescribes an eclipse of the female form. Other designers too used long dresses to great effect; at Lanvin, Alber Elbaz used hi-tech fabrics and straps to interpret the maxi in a blend where evening luxe meets sportswear. At Max Azria, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karen and Valentino, tones were muted and natural (what my Maths-student brother calls make-up colours); often in semi-transparent materials, the effect was deliciously sensual. If last summer represented the maxi-dress’s debut, this is surely the year it becomes a summer staple. It was Marc Jacobs who perhaps put spark to
tinder in this whole Seventies affair with his floral, frizzy-haired, boho show in New York, but elsewhere, other defining moments of the decade were not ignored. Following on from last winter’s camel mania were allusions to the pristine glamour of the 1970s working girl in her trouser suit, this time in clean, crisp white. Fendi, Stella McCartney and Salvatore Ferragamo all put a new spin on what’s since been confined to the fashion dustbin, and will surely make its way into our wardrobes once more. White was a big theme across the board, but so too was that iconic colour of the era; orange (brown, beige and camel follow closely behind). In proud, tangerine brights were maxi dresses at Etro, Hawaiian prints at Dior, pussy-bow blouses at Yves St Laurent and playsuits at Maxmara. Tommy Hilfiger showed a sharp, cropped trench coat in bright orange, while Sonia Rykiel incorporated it into a loose, beachy onepiece accessorized with a tassel necklace and wedge platform, sand-defying heels. As music fans know, they would never have gotten through the seventies if the tunes hadn’t been so good, and the rock star look of the time was not left behind. Roberto Cavalli in particular paid homage with fullfrontal, flared and tasselled style. Flares with slits laced with criss-crossed, beaded cords and material sagging under the weight of studded embroidered flowers, worn with fine snake skin jackets with defined shoulders,
the master of the maxi got hard-edge. Similarly, Ralph Lauren presented a collection inspired by the prairies, with plenty of fringing for all. Both, interestingly, used pale tones; as well as fancy frills, this rock chick is a feminine if not earthy young thing. Like lengthening skirt hems, the flare is making a serious fashion comeback – unfortunately more prone to trailing on wet pavements than the currently ubiquitous skinny jean, it’s not the most practical choice, but then again, high waists make flares as flattering as jeggings are not. Chunky, wooden heels, however, sweep any girl off her feet, and are surprisingly more comfy than the craze for kitten heels. From Dolce and Gabbana’s black leather versions, to clog studs and straps in brown at Mulberry, to dainty leather strapping balancing the big heels at Alexander McQueen, the catwalks collections show a wealth of variety to inspire. All kinds of ethnic embellishments such as feathers, fringing and fur were seen at Dior, Louis Vuitton, Mark Fast and even Chanel (the tweed and feather blue dress was a stroke of genius from Unkle Karl). Meanwhile, at Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs turned his eye to the Orient, with a collection that ranged from narrow Asian-style long dresses printed with floral graphics and slit to the thigh to microCheongsam suits in hi-voltage colours. No doubt inspired last year’s exhibition at the Petit Palais in Paris on the archetypal 1970s designer
Yves St Laurent, the collection took inspiration from the Opium adverts of the early days. Similarly chasing that wild, frizzed hair, lipglossand-rhinestone dream of Seventies pool party glam was Gucci (who else to get sexy?). They showed silky low V-neck jumpsuits with tie waists and slightly drop-crotch trousers. There were also blazers, but the emphasis lay in length rather than shoulder volume, as the 1980s would interpret things; and high-waisted skirts that ended just above the knee (note the longer length again) worn with twisting, cutaway tops in luxurious satin fabrics. Block-coloured in orange, purple, navy and teal, the bright shades kept things modern; the collection was accessorised with tasselled rope belts and long, wide clutch bags. Trousers and jumpsuits are definitely the most elegant choice for evening these days. If the 1980s enjoyed such a ubiquitous fashion revival it became clichéd to even mention it, perhaps the 1970s one should not hope for the same success rate. But for this summer at least, one epoch is throwing its doors open for a second time, and it seems flexible enough to suit many tastes. But given enough time, the wildfire might just spread.
Rena Niamh Smith
A different kind of cut >> Rena Niamh Smith
air styles are seldom easy to get right, and style bibles are often filled with double- and quadruple-page spreads on how “you too” can get that French twist or flawless beehive, if only you can first grapple with how to “grab one section” of this or “roll towards the centre parting” with any skill. Yet a subtle trend for a certain kind of sophisticated hairdo has long been creeping up on us and requires no more than a wash and go – perhaps with a bit of finger-crumpling in between.
Long established are the red carpet divas with their glossy, bouncy manes that dazzle success and good health in their plumped up locks – Cheryl Cole, Kim Kardashian et al– you know who I mean. With lashings of hair extensions even in their hair-care adverts, the equation
here seems to read high maintenance equals high impact, and who can argue with that? Yet those who’d be regarded as more high fashion sport an altogether more laid-back attitude to hairstyle, and the effect is disarmingly elegant. Think Alexa Chung, Sophia Coppolla and the new Paris Vogue editor Emmanuelle Alt. Even when appearing at their most polished, the less-is-more way of doing things paired with an impeccable taste for clothes mean these women look more sophisticated effortlessly. The look cuts this type of fashion maverick, cooler-than-thou kid way above the reality TV royalty. With long tresses immaculately curled, albeit tussled ever so slightly, Lauren Conrad, Nicole Ritchie and Claudia Schiffer worked a more polished, noughties
version of the seventies style boho-chic look, yet the anti-style style (let’s call it that – Grazia would invent a new word out of two others, but lets not go there) is not this. The anti-style is very much un-polished and imperfect; not that it need be un-glossy. Investing in a good quality shampoo and conditioner puts you in good stead to DIY. Beyond that, a quick blow dry might help, but it’s important to let your hair’s natural kinks do the talking. Instead, try crumpling your hair’s lengths with your fingers while it’s still damp with a touch of wax or gel and work some into the roots, though only use a touch. Any more would be overkill. Letting roots or fringes grow in and embracing split ends adds to the brilliant nonchalance of the anti-style.
While rarely headline news in itself, this trend really comes down to a more fundamental shift in the fashion landscape, that celebrates understatement. Minimal tailoring on runways at Jil Sander, Stella McCartney, Chloé and Calvin Klein show a desire to focus on the details. Handbags, in particular, have come a long way from the it-bag phenomenon, with new taste for simple, sophisticated designs in leather of muted tones. The bags in Victoria Beckham’s new collection of arm-candy each look the price-tag precisely because they fail to catch the eye across the street. The anti-styled hair embraces this philosophy with ease and grace.
Rena Niamh Smith
A free service T
he rash of student occupations over the last few months in reactions to cuts and Westminster government policy have taken place in lecture theatres or court buildings – places of established use and power. Here at Glasgow University our last student occupation took place in the Gilmorehill Theatre, a space that is used for lectures and performances. The logic behind these targets is clear – in order to win demands from university management it is necessary to occupy somewhere in a manner that is extremely disruptive, doing this will force management to concede. Our occupation of the former postgraduate club, the Hetherington Research Club at 13 University Gardens, is a different operation, both in ideology and in practice. The space that we have reclaimed is a former student union that the university has decided it is not willing to provide space or funding for. This history of the Hetherington, its mismanagement and lack of oversight from the University, are just that, history. We are not causing disruption to the stated aims of a university; that of providing an education, in fact we are furthering and deepening them. Management were about to begin a major operation to turn the building from which we are writing this letter from a home for postgraduate students to socialize, collaborate intellectually and share ideas and research, to office space. This is a cut to student services, one of many made before the cuts entered the public consciousness, and one of a whole range of reductions to the experience and offerings of Glasgow University. Worse than this it represents the potential loss of jobs, and redundancy for members of staff.
Demands of the Occupation Maintained freedom of access to the building, on the terms of the occupants. The Hetherington Research Club to be returned to democratic control by students and staff, with the return of the block grant. All those who lost their jobs as a result of the closure should be offered their jobs back. Anton Muscatelli should condemn the cuts and student fees and take the average wage of University staff, or resign. No cuts at Glasgow University. We demand no job cuts, no course cuts, no cuts to student services, no cuts to teaching budgets and an end to the voluntary severance scheme. Glasgow University must become a democratic place of lifelong learning for all residents of Glasgow. We demand investment in higher education and wider public services and an end to the Government's programme of austerity.
This cut to services would have destroyed the prospect of the much loved and much needed Hetherington Research Club from ever re-opening. Therefore we feel that we could not have chosen a better space for reclamation; no disruption for students and plenty for management. We feel that, like the rest of the British social and economic system, the education sector – and higher education in particular – has been captured by the same business, finance and market models that have caused even business, financial and market systems to fail. We assert, in general, that a form of society containing such high levels of wealth which cannot provide free education, free health care and a sense of justice and fairness is a failed system. We stand in solidarity with student occupations in this country, only some of the hundreds across the world, but what we are trying to do is fundamentally different to many other occupations. The Free Hetherington is not a protest; it is a living demonstration of how people can come together and build a space that is democratically run, autonomous and non-commercial. Thus far, it has been an incredible success beyond what many of us could have hoped for a week ago, let alone a year ago. Our single most important demand is something that no-one can give us - it is something that we walked in and took for ourselves. Instead of waiting for the University to address our demands we have already created an active space for students and members of the community. The Free Hetherington. It is hard to communicate to people who have not been to visit the sense of euphoria and engagement involved in this place. Something really exciting and unique is happening here, not everyone here is an activist, but everyone is active. Every day The Free
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Hetherington has been busy with students and members of the community coming in for free coffee and food, a chance to meet people and have stimulating conversations. Our invitation to take part in our programme of events such as film showings, reading groups, guest lectures, skill-sharing workshops, discussion groups has been taken up across campus. Crucially, the building is being booked and used by student groups and societies. It is open for use by the wider community, supported by a developing and self-critical democratic infrastructure that we have created since Tuesday the 1st of February. The space that we have created is non-commercial. Those who have arrived have often commented on being confused about what they might find beforehand, but many have quickly come to realize that this is different from the other student unions and surrounding West End pubs and cafés. The climate of social segregation that can be a part of the dual union system at Glasgow University is absent here and nobody is trying to make a profit from people that visit this space. It is apparent to us that one of the clearest illustrations of the alienating effects of introducing money into human relationships is what happens when you remove it. The fact that we have created a non-commercial space fosters relationships and collaborations based on respect, trust and solidarity. People are not invited, and do not come here, as consumers but as participants. Currently we are serving two full vegan meals a day, breakfast and dinner, but lunch supplies are also always available. All food served in The Free Hetherington is ethically sourced and collectively made. We invite students and the wider community to come and study, discuss, collaborate, collate, talk, meet and create their own part of this community. Most importantly, we invite students, staff and communities to come here to teach us about themselves, and what we share in these difficult political and economic times. Or simply hang out and have a sandwich. Or see if there is anything they need from the free shop. Or a book they might like from the free library. Or meet another student who might be able to help with their dissertation. Or learn Spanish. As with the youth houses of the Basque Country where, like many parts of Europe, there is a strong tradition of self-organized young people taking a space and running it as a collective space for non-commercial socializing as well as collective organizing. A culture of autonomous spaces is created by the idea that if we want spaces of our own then we just take them. That is what we have begun in The Free Hetherington Club. However, as our occupation here ends we hope that there will be a generation of Glasgow University students who will have gained vital experience in reclaiming a building and turning it into a microcosm of what it might be like to live in a better world; a world of real human freedom. We hope that both the people who eat their lunch here a couple of times a week and those who are involved long-term will take this experience and continue to create oases of freedom, respect and community. If we do, then we can imagine a situation where in the future we can continue to create spaces where young people organize themselves in open, non-hierarchical spaces to do what they feel is right in a place where their opinions are respected and they do not have to spend money. Communities that are created, not dictated. This is the beginning.
Lots of love, The Free Hetherington
A World of Music - Celtic Connections 2011
he award winning Glasgow based music festival was back again this January, bigger and better than ever. The cross-genre, multi-venue extravaganza showcased a little bit of everything, from hot new talent (Rachel Sermanni) to guitar legends (Richard Thompson), folk heroes (Sharon Shannon) to Indie giants (The Walkmen). With so many fantastic evenings of music you could hardly be expected to keep up with it all, so here are a few of the Music Team’s highlights from this year’s festival.
The Pulse of The World feat. Zakir Hussain Thursday 13th January Glasgow Royal Concert Hall Zakir Hussain (above) is hardly a household name. With so many renowned musicians and groups performing at the festival, it might have seemed an odd choice for the opening night headline act to be an Indian tabla player. The tabla is itself a relatively unknown instrument, and those who do know what it is (roughly, a set of variously sized hand drums), they may well be curious as to how a ‘glorified bongo player’ could be handed such a pivotal role. I can assure you, however, that Hussain is nothing short of a virtuoso. I could mention some of the musicians he has worked with (George Harrison, John McLaughlin, Yo Yo Ma), but frankly, Hussain’s brilliance is only truly appreciable the old fashioned way: sitting down and listening to him work his musical magic. The tabla is not percussion as the West knows it, at least the way Hussain plays it - he does far, far more than keep rhythm. The variety in timbre and pitch is truly astounding, meaning Hussain is much more than a passive member of any ensemble - he dictates the flow of the music - it leaps and springs from his remarkable fingers. As the central character in the night’s performance, his delicate touch allowed him to direct his fellow musicians, without dominating or stifling them.
For this was not a one-man show. Three fellow Indian musicians accompanied Hussain, along with half a dozen from the Scottish and Irish tradition. It was this headlong collision of two musical cultures that made the night the perfect introduction to this year’s festival. The fact that this blend of styles was carried off so effortlessly was what made this night a success. It was a celebration of two vastly differing traditions finding common ground in the roots of their music. It was a celebration of world music, and a reminder that Scotland has no small place within it. Nick Biggs Kepa Junkera Thursday 20th January Glasgow Royal Concert Hall When considering Celtic connections, a festival priding it’s firmly rooted traditional Scottish folk domain, the words genre-blind and Basque accordionist don’t spring immediately to mind; in fact they seem wholly alien and radically nonconformist to a concept all to commonly reduced to roaring ceilidhs and Gaelic pop. However, accordion especialista Kepa Junkera (top right) pioneers an aspect of the festival that would take a fair few tries to rummage up if Celtic Connections was a round on Vernon Kay’s Family Fortunes; that of international folk and world music. Making his festival debut in 1999, Kepa has since returned to grace Glasgow with a magic touch for revitalising his native traditions with the aid of his trusty trikitixa (a Basque diatonic accordion with a wealth of heritage under its belt.) The Royal Concert Hall being the stage set for his return, the question arose over whether Kepa would bring a fresh approach to his live stage performance, deviating from his prior visits to Scotland’s live music hub. Not failing to disappoint, Kepa came armed with his secret weapon; Leioa Kantika Korala, a 15 strong female choir adorned in multi-coloured harem pants ready to unleash a oscillating sway in time to their harrowing harmonies. Reminiscent of classic Bollywood, the choir was received with varied degrees of trepidation by the notably maturing crowd the concert had attracted, bringing an almost public school choir dimension to the carnivalesque fiesta theme the music strived to evoke. Despite this aesthetic and oral pleasure cocktail, the real magic of Kepa’s performance lay in his cheeky-chappy approach to audience participation. Undeniably, Kepa is a man who clearly enjoys what he does and has no qualms about showing it. Toying with audience expectation, the Basque accordionist approached the performance as one would approach an experimental jam session in a mate’s garage over a few tinnies and a common idealist notion for creating something wholly individual. Carrying his concert off the beaten track of expectation, Kepa used his spotlight as a means for indulging in masterful accordion solos. Beginning his score with mellow, understated folk songs, audience members twitched with the anticipation of an explosive climatic encore courtesy of the jigfriendly ‘Bok-Espok’. Admittedly, without the aid
of a faithful programme, the language barrier between the Basque musician and his majority English speaking audience created a degree of distance as he failed to communicate the story behind his music, leaving the crowd uncomfortably awkward and gawping at his attempts to connect with them. Nevertheless, his crowd interaction had undeniable results managing to secure a standing ovation from an all seated auditorium and encouraging a daring few to throw a few shapes in the aisles. Challenging the sceptics in his transformation of the music of Basque mountain shepherds into an inspiring Spanish fiesta, there is no doubt that Kepa’s genius and individual innovation championed the Celtic Connections once again. The audience were left stomping in time to the frivolous folk and swaying with the esoteric harmonies as they exited, wondering what he would bring to the table on his next visit to the tartan nation. Louise Pollock Anais Mithell Friday 21st January Old Fruit Market Anais Mitchell’s most recent project was always going to sound daunting on paper. After all, a “folk opera” based on an ancient Greek myth does not necessarily appeal to the masses. Hearing it live, however, was a truly unique experience. In the relaxed setting of the Old Fruit-market, surrounded by fairy lights and candle lit tables, Mitchell’s music created a n
o t h e rwo r l d l y a t m o s phere. With the help of a large cast of singers, musicians and even a narrator,
Mitchell shares her own modern-day adaption of the ancient myth of Orpheus, who embarks on a journey to the underworld to retrieve his lost love Eurydice, her part sang by Mitchell. A vast range of musical genres are utilised throughout Hadestown. Again, on paper, Mitchell’s fusion of jazz, blues, gospel and ragtime can sound off-putting; however she has created something that works astoundingly well. Unlike the recording, the live performance included quite an in-depth narration between each of the songs; a feature that felt somewhat unnecessary, as Mitchell’s lyrics speak for themselves. One of the main successes of the album version is that each song blends together in a flowing progression, rather than existing as a succession of entirely disjointed songs. For some, Mitchell’s girlish vocals are perhaps a little too sweet to listen to for an entire night, and so input from the other cast members – with their own distinctive voices - was warmly welcomed. We were privileged to the rather more powerful female vocals of Persephone, the booming bass of Hades and, the particularly outstanding sorrowful tones of Orpheus. Her youthful voice, however, should not be mistaken for immaturity in her song writing talents. Mitchell’s play on words is continually witty and creative, “The River Styx was a river of stones” and aside from the lyrics, it is remarkable how Mitchell has combined so many genres and yet managed to create something that actually works rather well. Hadestown is much larger scale and more epic than her previous works which, though brilliant, are entirely conventional folk records in their format. However, while it was a novel experience to witness a “folk opera” for an evening, I could have quite happily listened to Mitchell with no backing and only her guitar. Abbey Shaw
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Vital Signs, Broken Sleep
Jean-Xavier Boucherat chats with Ben Chansy, aka Six Organs of Admittance.
s might have been mentioned, we’re big fans of inane genre tags. The uselessly vague Freak-Folk label started getting thrown around in self-absorbed magazines around about the turn of the century and since then has repeatedly failed to encapsulate an abundance of interesting sounds, some of which may have mutated from what was and is already an incredibly diverse and adaptable form (that is, folk).
with letters and presents. It was pretty exciting. I also really enjoy playing with Rob Fisk in Badgerlore. He'e been a big influence from way back when he started Deerhoof with Greg as a noise band.’ You recorded this album at home. This way you can avoid some of the hassle and problems you'd get in a studio, but did you encounter any problems recording at home? For instance, did the process become suffocating at all?
How would you feel about a world without fx pedals? That world doesn't really appeal to me because I love insane pedals. I have one built by Bill Skibbe, who runs a studio in Michigan and recorded the School Of The Flower record, that is totally insane. I also like Last Gasp Laboratories. This record feels quite rooted in place. The record is pretty rooted it the place that I grew up as a child. I wanted to see what I could do with that. It seems the couple records before it were concerned with here and now and they ended up being pretty depressing. I wanted this one to be a little more lively. Chansey has got an exciting year ahead of him. ‘I'm looking forward to getting back on the road and playing some Six Organs shows. I didn't tour at all last year. I'm also looking forward to finally putting out some records by myself, just little things but things I've wanted to do for a while now.’ Keep your eyes open for a Glasgow date – Chansey is an exciting artist who’s almost certainly worth your attention. Mark Jeremy
Asleep on the Floodplain is released Feburary 14th on Dragcity.
"I was living in a really small studio apartment with my girlfriend so it was hard to carve out a space and time to record. It was sort of like, "are you planning on going out today because I feel inspired to record. Can I have an hour?" That sort of thing." For example, it should be fairly obvious that applying the term to guitarist Ben Chansy’s Six Organs of Admittance is an entirely crass thing to do. Look at his back catalogue and it’ll quickly dawn on you that ‘varied’ isn’t really the word – a split single with California stoner-doom duo Om, and collaborations with current 93, Sunn0))), Devendra Banhart, and not to mention a member of psych-noise adventurers Comets on Fire. Chansy has kept the affair personal for his new record, Asleep on the Floodplain, a mixture of intoxicating psych-jams and poignant, succinct acoustic compositions, recorded in his own apartment. ‘This record is actually my least collaborative in a long while. After so many guests on the last few records I wanted to strip it down’. There is a consistency in the record which suggests this. That’s not too say this spoils it any way, but in the past Chansy has expertly demonstrated the greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts magic of collaboration. ‘I think my favourite collaboration so far was with Hiroyuki Usui for the august Born record. All of the tracks were sent physically through the mail and we would attach pictures and graphs as to how the music should fit together
I was living in a really small studio apartment with my girlfriend so it was hard to carve out a space and time to record. It was sort of like, "are you planning on going out today because I feel inspired to record. Can I have an hour?" That sort of thing. It was never really suffocating. There were many moments of being tangled up in chords and wires. I think there is a great art to recording in a studio that certain really great engineers bring. I hope that doesn't get lost in the proliferation of home recording. There's a mixture of droning, pscyh-laced jams and more crafted pieces on the new record. For example, 'hold but let go' seems to act almost as a signpost, mixed like it is between soundscapes that a listener could easily get lost in. Do you like the idea of people becoming disorientated in your sound? I kind of hope that the music would be more orienting than disorienting. That sort of sound has just always appealed to me, which is why I do it so much I suppose. I think it is because in my own life I generally listen to more ambient stuff and also acoustic, so I like to put those sounds together.
The GGM Playlist 005 - "Goodnight Jack." "Goodnight Meg." 1. Hello Operator 2. The Denial Twist 3. We're Gonna Be Friends 4. Astro 5. Ball & Biscuit 6. Catch Hell Blues 7. Rag & Bone 8. Stop Breaking Down 9. Death Letter 10. Fell in Love With Girl By Matt Nicol Email us your playlist to: firstname.lastname@example.org
y flatmate said something really clever not so long ago, which was, there is really just too much music. He’s almost certainly right. Musicians and producers the world over should really take a year out and let everyone catch up. I can just see lovers the world over locking themselves up in cheap hotel rooms, equipped with suitcases full of last year’s releases. I can see friends taking long road trips lacking in destination, armed with painstakingly composed year old playlists to bang on the way. And maybe, just maybe, the more insecure among us could just relax, safe in the knowledge that no one out there is spending hours a week trawling obscure blogs for new sounds to reduce your own limited taste to tatters. Unfeasible fantasies aside, it did occur to me that there must be processes at work that determine what makes certain works ‘obscure’ and similar works ‘accessible’. Quite a lot of the time, when people talk about ‘a particularly good year for music’, or even ‘a good year’ for such and such a genre, they’re usually inadvertently referring to concentrated media interest in things like a home-grown scene that’s been around for years, an independent artist already adored in his/ her hometown, or a group of friends who, really speaking, are just trying to have some fun, and are in no way trying to make some sort of grand gesture through their music. Before you get indignant, I’m not suggesting that the music press has somehow disseminated itself throughout your consciousness and hijacked your opinions. My point here is that in fact, I think music is a remarkably consistent thing in that records across every genre with the ability to change your entire outlook are released every year. There are bedroom producers and garage bands hidden all over the place, secretly pushing the envelope. Admittedly, (and obviously, I would hope), the press do occasionally pick up said records, but then in doing so, they immediately establish a somewhat unavoidable bias that works in both directions - either you're gonna get snobby and reject the artist, or you're gonna decide you quite like that particular artist and get angry with all the former. Or you could be like me and get gratuitously angry at the whole affair! And thus we all alienate each other just a little more. Wonderful. As mentioned in our review of the particularly fantastic James Blake, an infuriating selection we get every year is the BBC’s Sound of the Year award, winners of which include path breakers like, Keane? Little Boots? Mika? I daresay the most elaborate practical joke that Lebanon has ever played on the international community would have a pretty difficult time capturing the essence of a single day of anyone’s life, let alone a year. Sniping at easy targets you say? Me? Surely not.
Don't let the beard fool you... he isn't folk Nick Biggs talks with Iron & Wine about religious influence, film professorship and the joys of collaboration.
ver the last decade Sam Beam (or Iron & Wine, as he is better known) has become well known for writing songs about love, recording on a shoe-string, and his distinctive, melodic guitar picking. His new release, entitled Kiss Each Other Clean, reflects an unmistakable change in direction. On a cold winter evening I was lucky enough to question him on this, his ever-growing family, and plenty more besides. I’m a little disappointed that you won’t be stopping by Glasgow on your forthcoming tour. I know me too. I wish we were going to Glasgow, I love Glasgow, but you know, we’ll be back, we always come back.
You have a lot more money for the recording process now than in those early days. Has that been a help to the recording process, or has it sometimes felt like a hindrance? Well, the songwriting is really kinda the same. I’m a slightly different person after ten years, a lot of the early songs were love songs, but they’re still as heavy and light. I’m still doing portraits and poems on life. You embrace the happy and the sad, the beautiful and the terrible. As far as money goes, I was able to buy a studio, where I can make more and different kinds of sounds that I used to be able to, but you know, sometimes it’s good to work with a handicap, with an obstacle.
before that, but I didn’t have a lot of experience with it. Then when that record came along I was thrust into a room with other people, but luckily they were really talented, generous people, they’re still like family to me. I learned a lot about collaborating and I’ve been doing it with different people ever since then. It moves making music into an exploratory thing, instead of just a translation of your ideas, of what’s going on inside your head. Instead of that you start trying to explore different options and the fun is being surprised with what you end up with. Music is fun to play by your self, but it’s a lot more fun to play with other people.
Religious imagery crops up throughout the album. Is your music in anyway an expression of faith? I’m not a religious person, but I grew up in a religious place, and religious characters were the characters we learned. They were taught to us to teach us our moral lessons, our equipment for life, so I learned to use them. Religion is a big part of the world, it’s part of human everyday life, but I’m not religious myself.
It’s been almost four years since your last album. Have you been enjoying spending some time away from the studio? Yeah, a couple of people have said that. Has it been that long? It seems like yesterday we put the last one out. But yeah, we’ve just been busy touring and we put out that compilation record called Round The Well, a collection of B-sides and rarities, then working on the new record, and we had another child. You know how it is, life goes on and you stay busy.
So would it be it fair to say your songs are reflective of your childhood? Yeah, there’s bits and bobs from stuff that was classic pop radio when I was a kid, like Fleetwood Mac and Elton John, much more on the surface of this collection of songs than it ever has been before. But at the same time there’s an equal measure of synthetic music, African music, jazz - there’s a bit of everything thrown into the pot.
You have five children now, all girls. Has being a dad affected how you work? That’s right, yeah. It’s definitely been harder carving out time for music, but I treat music like a job. I have a lot of fun at my job but at the same time you have to apply a certain amount of discipline to it. For instance, I take the kids to school, then come home, go the studio and work some, and keep going ‘till it’s time to pick up the kids from school. You treat it like punching a card. I always liked the idea of the old Brill Building where people went to write songs for other people to sing. Uncut magazine describes your new album as capturing your ‘evolution from alt’ country dependable to sonic pioneer.’ Is that a fair description? Well, [laughing] I guess. I don’t like the idea of putting out the same record twice. Because, that’s no fun, right? No fun for me, or for the listeners I don’t think. Because to be entertained means you need something to come along to make it interesting. So with each record I’ve tried to push things along into a new area that I haven’t explored yet. Luckily that early stuff was so minimalist and raw that I have a lot of places to go.
How did you decide on the title of your new album, Kiss Each Other Clean? Well, it’s a lyric from the last song on the record - “The happy kids who kiss each other clean” - the record in general embraces the good and the bad, the sour and sweet, the hard and soft, pretty and ugly, so they’re fairly heavy tunes at times. But this record’s a little more upbeat, major key, almost danceable at times, so yeah, it’s almost like bad news with a wink, or with a spoonful of sugar. I wanted a title which showed both of those sides. Kiss Each Other Clean is a phrase that doesn’t mean anything. It feels positive, but with an undertone of something darker - that you’re dirty, that something’s fucked up.
The Creek Drank the Cradle sounds the way it does because I had to borrow a four track, guitar and banjo. You make the best of what you have. Money doesn’t necessarily make anything easier or harder, you just have different tools. I use it on different tools. Over the years you’ve worked with various musicians, probably Calixico most notably. Have you enjoyed collaborating? Calixico in particular was a big learning experience for me, I was really learning how to work with other people. I wasn’t shying away from it
Exploration of community has always been a binding aspect in the folk tradition. Is that a tradition you feel you have ever been a part of? I don’t really think about it one way or another: I just right songs. I can definitely see why people would listen to the old records and think so, the acoustic guitar and banjo signifiers are certainly there, but hopefully these songs can exist in other contexts too. I try to write songs that can just exist, that have an intrinsically valuable quality.
You were a film professor in earlier life. Do you think about visual elements at all when you’re writing songs? There are definitely some connections. In screenwriting you’re limited to a description of action and dialogue, which makes for a real visual writing style. I don’t necessarily write songs to be like screenplays, but I feel like I was drawn to writing screenplays and drawn to writing songs because that’s a communication form that I like. It’s a more suggestive form of writing than to simply argue or explain a point. The audience can cooperate with you, be a bit more engaged because they can make their own assumptions about what things mean rather than if I’m explaining emotion or argue people should be one way or another. It’s much more fun to describe a place, a story, or something that happened. Explaining it isn't so much fun. Are you pleased with how the new album turned out? To be honest I haven’t searched out a lot of reaction from the fans. My mum said she likes it though. That’s good enough for me.
James Blake Self-Titled
Gigs & Club Nights
Atlas/A&M - 07/02/11
>> Lauren Martin
Japanther 10/02/11 Captain's Rest The art school delinquents bring their two-man noise party freak out to Woodlands. You can't lose. For fans of Lightning Bolt.
wearied of the term dubstep far quicker than I imagined I would, and as such I instantaneously grew weary of the term post-dubstep. As the year begins to shape up, and various music polls tip their tainted hats towards 'new' artists that have been recording and releasing music for a considerable time longer than published, many have been unceremoniously tagged with this meaningless tag. Admittedly, taking issue with generic labelling is at best misguided (and at worst infuriating) as it detracts from artistic merit in a way that makes my teeth ache, but in this case I’m wondering exactly what is post about post-dubstep. Mount Kimbie are not to early DMZ releases what Joy Division were to early British punk rock. If anything, what was popularised by Mary Anne Hobbs in her legendary 2006 'Dubstep Warz' Breezeblock show on BBC Radio 1 as the dubstep sound has simply evolved. Or split. In one corner we have the gut-bustingly hideous productions of Magnetic Man, Rusko et al. who rely less on bass and more on how wasted the 'Freshers-Week-Every-Week' crowds are, and in the other there are those who have splintered away from the bass-obsession to create something altogether more interesting. James Blake is leading this camp with his selftitled debut album, and whilst he has been picked for the BBC Sound of 2011 list, the sheer weirdness and inventive scope of the record may hinder any serious chances of it gaining the kind of mainstream accessibility that the BBC seem to hope it will. The pitched-down vocals from his previous work on CMYK and Klavierwerke have developed into an eeriness that leans towards the Southern rap style of Chopped and Screwed as much as it does to Bjork and Joanna Newsom. Whilst his
EPs specialised in taking early 2000's R&B vocal loops and crushing them up beyond recognition, his album makes the undeniable presence of his own original and very touching voice its unfurling creative thread. With his simultaneously harmonious and broken vocals constantly playing catch up with the beat, or leaving it dragging behind him, James Blake joins a form of music production that uses the human voice as an instrument in itself, rather than another squashed layer in the fabric of the sound. For such a sparse palette it all sounds remarkably balanced; the keys, synths, drum machine and vocoder are always fragile but never quite
snap under the weight of one another. Where dubstep is often loud to the point of creative exhaustion, there's an elegantly beautiful quietness to James Blake. His lead single 'Limit To Your Love' - a Feist cover - is the only potentially mainstream track on the album, and one that the BBC will probably wring out until shrivelled. But Blake will almost certainly be able to maintain a graceful arms length from the Kiss of Death that the sound of the year selection has delivered to artists in the past, if only because his album is one of the most creative releases I have heard in a long time. I'm just waiting for the rest of the so called post-dubstep crew to play catch up.
Earth Angels of Darkness..
Ebsen and the Witch Violet Cries
How are we doing? Shoddier than NME? More self-righteous than The Wire? More pretentious than Pitchfork? More out of touch than GUM? Reviews and Columns to email@example.com
Southern Lord - 01/02/11
he drug-andalcohol-free Dylan Carlson has released more than enough material to suggest he might be looking for a broader place in history than the doomdrone pioneer from nineties Seattle, who took his cue from the Melvins and hung out with Kurt Cobain a lot. He’s doing a good job – this is a distinctly ambient, post-rock affair that can stand tall alongside the likes of Godspeed or Mogwai. Listen carefully though, and you'll begin to recognize that ominous chasm that so many records on Southern construct. Sneaking through the sonorous, royalpace melodies is a combination of menacing, blues-orientated textures, and measured, relentless drumming, slowly marching us on towards the end of the world. So nothing new then, but terribly good just the same. Jean-Xavier Boucherat
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Shortsfestival 16/02/11 Punk / Hardcore all dayer, featuring the best band in Glasgow (factually), Clocked Out. You can't lose. Facebook this event for more details. Darkstar 16/02/11 Nice N Sleazy Emotional electronica from Hyperdub, with a lineup now featuring singer James Buttery. You can't lose. Essential, infectious, energyridden heartbreak from London.
Matador - 31/01/11
ere is a band fairly much surrounded by hype. Upon listening to their debut album however, it would appear that it is well deserved. Violet Cries is a stunningly theatrical work, yet one that never approaches melodrama, full of eerie echoes and ghostly vocals. Opening track Argyria starts delicately, barely there at all. A distant sounding guitar is heard, backed by a pulsating drumbeat. After a very slow build up, there are some echo-drenched wails from singer Rachel Davies before it bursts into life, unleashing a fuller and richer sound upon the listener, until descending again into near silence. Second track, Marching Song, contrasts severely with the atmospheric latter. Davies sings more determinedly over a cacophony of distorted guitars, thundering drums and a stern bassline.
The album continues in this way, swaying between minimalist electronica with whispered vocals, and the more powerful sound of pounding drums accompanied by feral wails and cries from Davies. This continual contrast throughout the album forms an interesting, almost hypnotising listen, lulling the listener into a false sense of security before re-awakening them to what is, at times, a claustrophobic sound. The band’s name is taken from a particularly morbid Danish fairytale, and this is a foreboding indication to the sinisterly gothic tales that unravel through the lyrics of each song. Opening track, Argyria, is about silver oxide poisoning, but this is hardly the most bizarre subject explored. What Esben and the Witch have created is a beautiful, darkly romantic sound yet, rather refreshingly, often without the standard romantic lyrical content of so much contemporary music. Even with its weirdly wonderful lyrics, Violet Cries is a swirling, atmospheric record that remains intriguing throughout. Abbey Shaw
Billy Bragg 17/02/11 The Arches Anarcho-Acoustic musings from Barking's favourite son. Just don't mention that lovely big house he lives in in West-Dorset. You can't lose. What's that you say? Another jaded, politically based singer-songwriter? Joy Orbison b2b Jackmaster 18/02/11 Stereo Numbers delivering more antics, with their own Jackmaster taking control alongside heavyweight Joy Orbison. You can't lose. They tell me fun is fun, and I suspect they're right Our Love Will Destroy The World 19/02/11 Nice N Sleazy Funny stuff, drone music. Ha-ha funny? I don't know - come and find out. You can't lose. For fans of anything weird and intoxicating. Glasser 20/02/11 The Captain's Rest Experimental singer-songwriter Cameron Mesirow uses a range of electronic and acoustic instruments to create rich and complex sound-scapes that compliment her sweet, dulcet tones. You can't lose. Check out her MySpace for more. Lucky Dragons 22/02/11 The Arches Cry Parrot continue to proove themselves as one of the the most important musical establishments in Glasgow by putting on this incredible experiment with the Glasgow Film Fest. The idea is full crowd participation, from the sound to the visuals. You can't lose. See facebook for info on to submit films to be screened at the event.
YOUR VOICE IN GLASGOW Mondays, 5pm Williams Room, SRC Get involved Glasgow University