Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Knockabout Comics logo
Another recent visitor to THE GENERALIST HQ was Tony Bennett, the head honcho behind Knockabout Comics, one of the very few British independent publishers and distributors of adult and underground comics.

We worked out the last time we probably saw each other was at the very first WOMAD festival at the Bath & West Showground near Shepton Mallet, Somerset in 1980. On the bill was Peter Gabriel, Don Cherry, The Beat, the Drummers of Burundi, Echo & The Bunnymen, Imrat Khan, Prince Nico Mbarga, Simple Minds, Suns of Arqa, The Chieftains and Ekome amongst others.
Robert Crumb speaks! See below
Awesome. Needless to say we had a lot to catch up on. 

First some history of Tony's pioneering role taken from a 2006 interview by Joe Gordon on the Forbidden Planet blog. Full text here

'Not only has Knockabout been instrumental in pioneering the market for challenging underground material it has also been at the forefront of legal battles over censorship; it is probably no exaggeration to say that the increased leeway enjoyed in the medium today is thanks in no small part to the cases Knockabout has fought out with The Man so we could have the right to decide what we wanted to read for ourselves. 

Tony: In the late 60s and early 70s I was working with a publisher and distributor called Unicorn Bookshop [run by Bill Butler]. Originally in Brighton, we moved to a farm in West Wales where we were growing our own food and had a printing press in the barn. Unicorn, as well as publishing books on self-sufficiency, cannabis and poetry was importing Underground comics from the USA. This really sparked my interest in comics, partly for the wide and weird content and partly because they were creator-owned. It even encouraged me and a friend to draw and print our own self-indulgent heavily derivative comic, Trip Strip, which we distributed at festivals. With the demise of Unicorn in 1975, due to bad debts I took over some of the distribution and started publishing the Gilbert Shelton's The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers in 1975 [through his own company Hassle Free Press].

From the Generalist Archive: Front and back cover of the first Furry Freak comic published in UK by Knockabout; Knockabout Anthology No 10 with cover by Gilbert Shelton. Thirteen issues were published in the 1980s.

Read my interview with Gilbert Shelton for the NME published in October 1979

The company [which changed its name to Knockabout Comics in 1978/79] also became the UK publisher for Robert Crumb and original work by British comic artists Hunt Emerson and Bryan Talbot. It has also published many works by Alan Moore including 'In Hell' and, most recently, his new remarkable novel Jerusalem [see Generalist review]. See the Knockabout website for many more titles.

Copy of ZAP COMIX No 5 given to me
when I visited the Rip Off Press in San
Francisco in 1979

Tony arrived laden with some great recent Knockabout productions (see below) but he also lent me this fantastic book by Patrick Rosenkranz which documents the US Underground Comic Revolution through interviews with 50 of the leading comic artists of the period. Alongside Crumb and Shelton there is Dan O' Neill, S. Clay Wilson, Rick Griffin, Victor Moscoso, Bill Griffith, Robert Williams, Ron Cobb and many more.Published by Fantagraphics Books in 2002. Essential.


'Wierdo' was a magazine-sized comics anthology created by Robert Crumb in 1981, which ran for 28 issues until 1993. 

According to the preface by his wife Aline-Koninsky-Crumb. 'Wierdo' was inspired by 'Mad' and 'Humbug' and the Underground comic culture, which had boomed in the 70s. It came out around the same time as 'Raw', the 'high-brow' remarkable outsize graphic/comic journal led by 'Maus' creator Art Spiegelman [who I interviewed in London]. The Crumbs went for 'low-brow' and drew together a whole bunch of artists who worked on the edges of acceptability. 

R. Crumb himself edited the magazine for the first 3 1/2 years and gave it what Aline calls its 'wacky brand-X feel'. It was passed on to Peter Bagge who, she says, changed the mood to a more punk 'zine and many younger artists got their start in its pages. 

This substantial hardbound book brings together all the Crumb material from the magazine, which includes mad '50s style photonovel sexy girl adventures as well-as the conventional comics which Crumb is world-famous for, The last issue was produced in France where the family Crumb  (with daughter) emigrated to and are still domiciled.

Two frames from 'I Remember The Sixties', sub-titled R. Crumb Looks Back!
Didn't the late great Australian art critic Robert Hughes put Crumb up there as a modern day Brueghel! His work is xtraordinary, often hard to take, remarkable for its visceral intensity, insanity and humour. If you watch the long documentary Crumb, you'll understand that he came from a strange household. The bits in the film that still make me gasp is watching Crumb draw in the street, sitting on a  bench with street life ebbing and flowing around him. Extraordinary facility. By the way, this stuff is for adults !!


Pinnochio and me go way back. Can't remember reading the original Carlo Collodi story as a kid but def saw the Disney movie and no doubt read simplified version of tale. But did read Collodi's full version to Number 2 son as I recall. It's quite a dark bedtime read. This edition is the only one to survive in my library and my favourite up to this point, illustrated as it is by pencil drawings and gorgeous full-colour full-page frames by the remarkable Greg Hildebrant. Can't remember where this edition came from. It's published by the Unicorn Publishing House in New Jersey in 1986.

Now confronted with a radical adult re-visioning of Pinnochio by Winshluss, a.k.a. Vincent Paronnand a French comic artist and filmmaker, published in France in 2008. It won the prize for best album at the 2009 Festival International de la Bande Dessinée at Angoulême the following year.

Paronnaud is best known for co-writing and co-directing with Marjane Satrapi the highly acclaimed animated film Persepolis (2007), for which they received numerous awards including the Jury Prize at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival as well as an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature. It was developed from Satrapi's graphic autobiography depicting her childhood up to her early adult years in Iran during and after the Islamic revolution.

Pinnochio is a remarkable piece if work, a beautifully bound volume of 188 pages, printed on thick paper with ornate endpapers. In this version, P has become a little metal boy who appears to be indestructible, His full colour adventures through the book are interspersed with other parallel narratives including black and white  Adventures if Jiminy Cockroach, Other stories in a kind of brown charcoal effect are self-contained. Elements of Collodi's story are cleverly given new twists. There are some very unpleasant things here including a clown dictator to chill the blood but the artistry, ingenuity, unexpectedness and sheer beauty on display, the constant shifts in frames, strands and technique, make the journey a bare-knuckle ride and a visual feast.


This REMARKABLE book (just to make the point) takes us on a journey thought time and space from the very beginning of our universe to the birth of earth and the emergence of life and the human race. It's an extraordinary achievement.

Here is the book's creator Jens Harder explaining how he came to produce 'Alpha':

'The discussion of time has always been at the heart of things for me, this intangible construct of the fourth dimension, which can be approached more easily in comics than in a time-based medium. Though the presentation of more than 14 billion years in just 350 pages is something of a joke (at a rough estimate of 2,000 drawings, means on average just one image for every seven million years). 

'My own particular obsession being the great mystery of the origin of life which always seems like a "miracle" to us humans. Thus I ended up devoting a not insignificant part of the book trying to approach this through the drawings. 

'Meanwhile, running in parallel to the development of the book, I was following the development of our children from the first blurry ultrasound images until four and a half years later, where in five minutes they can turn our entire living room into a battlefield but also with great joy, produce their first drawings. 

'Above all it is always the realisation that, in "Alpha" of course, that nothing is finished, nothing perfected in this ever-changing story. It changes constantly, but since the beginning of my work in 2004, the state of knowledge has grown enormously throughout the world. Much has been confirmed, much however has also been abandoned - but which only in rare cases did I take into account. If there should one day appear an expanded edition of the first part of this trilogy I will add or modify dozens of pages. And who knows, maybe by then another comic book creator will have taken on "the longest story ever" adding their own interpretation - and I think it would all be worth it.' 

Friday, November 18, 2016


THE GENERALIST was happy to welcome to Lewes my comrade and globetrotting musicologist, journalist, composer Peter Culshaw on the night after the US election, It was necessary to drink, eat an Indian meal and drink some more. Over-nighting at the Beat Hotel, refreshed and invigorated, we laid plans for the uncertain future. More on Pete's achievements and latest links at end. Over recent time, Pete has made many trips to Kyiv in the Ukraine and has written several brilliant pieces, some of which have appeared in the UK. This recent piece, reprinted with his permission, was recently published in 'The Odessa Review'.

A profile of the an artist, director, promoter, set designer who is arguably the most interesting man now working in Ukrainian theater as he prepares for the premiere of his opera “Babylon,” which is set to open this August.

I have come across very few arts visionaries who seem to alter the energy of those around them, and who, even with their outlandish ideas, change reality by the force of their imagination. What is now real was once imagined, in the words of William Blake. Some people I would put in this precious category are Malcolm McLaren, Joseph Beuys and Fela Kuti. I would not hesitate for a second however to add to that list Ukraine’s Vlad Troitsky as an important cultural catalyst for all of world culture full stop.

Troitsky has been the director of Kyiv’s storied Gogolfest every year since its inception, showcasing hundreds of Ukrainian artists of all stripes. This year’s fest motto is “Don’t wait – do something”. He was also instrumental in turning the Arsenale in Kiev into the modern, dynamic art centre it is today.  He is always on the go, but believes that one of the secrets of happiness (“and I am a very happy man” he says)  is to live in the present rather than the past or future. He has kept off Facebook and limits the negative feelings he gets from overexposure to media, but knows exactly what is going on politically.

Troitsky holds a seductive and positive line on Ukraine’s cultural situation. For him, Western Europe is “tired and cynical”, a place where everyone feels things are always getting worse — but that is not so in Ukraine, where things are on the up. Russia is an authoritarian, backward looking place that wants to send women back to the kitchen — Ukraine is a dynamic cultural place that holds more possibilities than ever. It is, after all, the most fertile area of Europe, the place with the richest, darkest soil. A feminine country — with a strength that implies that there is  “a lot of shit”, corruption, war and all the rest, but “step by step”, it steadily improves. “It’s not so cool for a bureaucrat to be driving a flashy car that he has afforded through taking bribes now”, he asserts.

Troitsky isn’t a head-in-the-clouds sort of guy, but he does have a bracing grip on the big picture. His new opera “Babylon,” which will open this August, is his reaction to the rise of populist nativists embodied by Brexit, Trump and Le Pen. Countries and cultures don’t understand each other, and don’t want to anymore. It is typical for Troitsky to draw direct parallels between personal and state relationships. “The EU was a romantic idea,” he says “but like all romances there is the romantic phase and then…” relationship experts argue a power struggle phase and a “Dead Zone,” when you don’t know who is sitting opposite you at breakfast. Troitsky believes “Ukraine is at a romantic phase, which is why it is so powerful.”

His ideas would be interesting from a theoretical point of view, but what gives Troitsky his power is that he turns many of them into reality. Whoever it was that said magic is the correct combination of will power and imagination could have been thinking of Troitsky. There was a feeling that Ukraine needed more contemporary music — Troitsky essentially dreamed up and put together the wildly popular neo-folk Dakha Brakha (in a not dissimilar fashion to the way that McLaren put together the Sex Pistols). Since then, he  has been art director to Dakha Brakha and the all female “freak cabaret” group Dakh Daughters.

Full disclosure if it can be called that: the first UK gig of Dakha Brakha, ten years ago, actually took place in my front room in Hackney, East London. It was attended by ten people. Now the ladies play to adoring crowds of thousands at the WOMAD and Glastonbury Festival, playing original and soulful music that is rooted not only in Ukrainian, but also in global culture. Likewise for the Dakh Daughters, whose video of them playing at the Euromaidan is a great introduction to their work. Now they too are touring internationally to critical acclaim.

Troitsky mentions that when Dakh Daughters played the Vienna Festival recently, a feminist gave them two reactions – she got a wonderful sense of freedom from the band, but was suspicious of Troitsky as a sort of patriarch daddy figure. The band replied that if she got this sense of freedom – why try and impose her ideas of feminism on them?  It’s true that in this band there is a singer who is a married mother, and another who tells everyone she had an affair with an artist and his wife at the same time.  That is a sort of freedom, perhaps. Troitsky might also say that in Western Europe there is a feeling that the sexual electricity between men and women is not what it once was — a diminution of the life force. For him, the “intellectual, sexual” Dakh Daughters on stage are the greatest ambassadors of the new Ukraine. Certainly, the two bands have inspired plenty of other groups to form, and if a Ukrainian musical renaissance is no longer a ridiculous or wishful idea, he is as much responsible for it as anyone.

I first met Troitsky a decade ago, when he was about to bring a version of Macbeth to London’s Barbican Theatre.  I was immediately struck by that inimitable sense of a positive vision allied with a steely will power.  Soon I was staying at his place in Kyiv, and every morning, even if the river Dnieper was frozen over, he would go swimming. He talked of going to a shamanic retreat in Siberia where you would be buried in an ice hole for days.

In fact, Troitsky was born in Siberia, but has lived in Kyiv for the last 35 years. At the collapse of the Soviet Empire, Troitsky built up a business which included shops on the main Khreshchatyk boulevard in Kyiv. Being an avant-garde theatre enthusiast, he bought a building in downtown Kiev twenty years ago and called it the Dakh Centre of Contemporary Theatre Arts. He set up a school for modern theatre, enrolled himself in it and invited directors that he admired, such as Igor Lysov, to come and lecture. In some ways his work aims to revive the theater milieu of the Soviet times, when Eastern European directors such as Tadeusz Kantor and Jerzy Grotowski produced idiosyncratic, physical theater that was among the most innovative in the world.

To return to my first night in Kyiv – we ended up at a fashionable restaurant which usually has a stylish, minimal décor. Except this time, the Dakh Centre for Contemporary Arts theater company covered the place with straw. There were live chickens everywhere, several actors were dressed as Ukrainian peasants, and a gang of musicians with drums and violins played in a music style that they described to me as “ethno-chaos”. Next, a dozen stunning girls arrived, dressed in bridal white. We went outside to an old amphitheater, where bonfires were lit and the brides began to rhythmically strike large sheets of metal with hammers. The movers and shakers of Kyiv’s fashion, media and business worlds were there in force and the event was judged to be a great success. The restaurant got lots of publicity and the theater company was paid enough to keep them going for a few more weeks. Which is not beside the point, as it survives by performing these kinds of stunts. There was the opening of a nightclub called Guerrilla, where the dress code was Soviet military chic (though the notion of Soviet chic has declined understandably in the last few years).

The company’s version of Macbeth loosely followed Shakespeare’s story, though with fairly little dialogue. Sometimes there were four witches and sometimes two — these were beautiful young sirens rather than old crones. Troitsky focused on the essential, archetypal elements of the play, and created a highly ritualistic piece using dance, masks and music to tell the story in an almost trance-like atmosphere. The mesmerizing music reflected his interest in the vocal traditional folk music of the Carpathian Mountains. It was also the first time that I heard the captivating music of Dakha Brakha. The play premièred in its original form a week before the Orange Revolution in November 2004, and the Macbeth tale of politics taken to extremes had obvious and striking contemporary resonance. Troitsky and his theater company were activists then, too, behind numerous “happenings.” One of these was the act of delivering thousands of old shoes to the Russian embassy and keeping up the morale of protesters by performing for them. There have been many other theater productions, such as a take on the Biblical story of Job, that emerged in the last year. Troitsky talks intensely of his belief in a theater of “intellectual clowning, mystery, ritual and neo – baroque aesthetics”, theater as a vehicle for spiritual self-realization.

His health has suffered in the last few years and he said he had been on a two week Ayurvedic retreat in Kerala India. But “fine words butter no parsnips”, and Troistky is a man of action and not merely of ideas, which is why he is to be treasured. In a TED talk he spoke of his belief that the old days of status and money politics were coming to an end. There would be a new politics of altruism where people got the most pleasure and status from giving things – attention, talent, money. All you would need to do is find people to accept your gifts.  Crazily optimistic — especially in the new old Ukraine – but if anyone is likely to bring such a vision down to earth, it could only be Troitsky.

This is the magazine's byline: Peter Culshaw is a composer and writer who has been everywhere and knows everyone. He once got very drunk with Fidel Castro. He is the author of ‘Clandestino: In Search of Manu Chao’.

The Generalist reviewed 'Clandestino' when it first came out.

Pete was one of the founding writers of and
does a regular radio show here: theartsdesk radio 

His  new music project is called The Temple Of Light:
Exclusive links: 
The Rose and Fire 
Himalaya Drone 


Some while back THE GENERALIST reviewed this book 'Psychedelic Suburbia' by Mary Finnigan. Following David B's death, the book became an Amazon best-seller.
See:  David Bowie and the Arts Lab Movement

The book was published by Peter Stansill through his independent company Jorvik Press which is based in Portland, Oregon.

Peter passed through London recently, we had a lengthy chat on the phone and he was good enough to send me two further titles.
'It's all about the story' is where Jorvik is coming from.

'If Jorvik Press had a motto, it would sound something like this. Our evolving mission is to publish books that tell a story about how people, places and times intersect. The result might be intriguing, evocative, heart-breaking, thrilling or, indeed, depressing. But it will always be mostly true.'

A life-long journalist and translator (he speaks at least five languages), Peter was one-time editor of the underground newspaper International Times [currently publishing on-line) and editor of the SF Bay Area underground paper Berkeley Barb.

Along with David Zane Mairowitz, he edited a landmark collection entitled 'BAMN: Outlaw Manifestos & Ephemera 1965-1970', first published by Penguin in 1971. BAMN stands for By Any Means Necessary. Jorvik will publishing a new edition in 2017.

Some thoughts on the two new titles.

'As Ever Was: Memoirs of a Beat Survivor' by Hammond Guthrie is a rattling good yarn and a valuable idiosyncratic memoir which conjures up lost worlds and gives you a flavour of what it was like to be there at that time.

Having survived military college, Hammond hung out in LA  and SF in the mid 60s - post-Beat, pre-hippy time. A budding painter and writer and professional drug taker, Hammond fitted well into the bohemian scene which he brings to life so well.

He and his wife decamped to London in the mid-60s, hanging out with the late and great John 'Hoppy' Hopkins and attending the UFO club and the London Arts Lab. Moving on to Amsterdam, they live on canal boats and hang out with the boho dope world. Hammond sells paintings to the Stedelijk.

The final lengthy chapters concern the couple's entanglement with a group of drug smugglers which leads them to living in Tangiers, trying to get the five American adventurers sprung from jail.

'The Cavern Club' by Debbie Greenberg is a great street-level history of one of the world's most famous small music venues.

Debbie was in there as a young girl from 1960 onwards and saw The Beatles live many times. According to the club's resident DJ, Bob Wooler, the Beatles made 292 appearances at the club in 1961, 1962 and 1963. Amazing.

Debbie became  a Cavern Club regular and she gives us a real feel of the claustrophobic stuffiness of the original club which was damp, unsanitary and a fire hazard - but with a fantastic exciting atmosphere even though it had no alcoholic licence. Cilla Black ran the cloakroom.

When the owner went bankrupt and it looked as if the Cavern would be closed for ever, Debbie's dad stepped up to the plate and the two of them turned it around with the help of the original house team. Her dad, Alf Geoghegan was a butcher at the time with shops and an abattoir so Debbie had to take over the meat business by day and would run to the club at night, managing also to squeeze in some modelling. I had forgotten that the Cavern was re-opened by the then Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

 Any band who was anything at that time made an appearance in the subterranean cellars of this great Beat Club and some of the all-nighter lineups are awesome. There were some 300 bands in Merseyside at that time.The book has a satisfying collection of photos and ephemera. This inside story is the real thing.

See Previous Post: Counter Culture &The British Beat Explosion. The latter is a history of Eel Pie Island.

Friday, November 11, 2016


First thought: Nice piece of Photoshop work. Wrong. 

This is the great man himself backstage at the New Leeds Arena on the 7th Sept 2013 with a wicked grin on his face, reading the LME. How cool is that! 

The photo was taken by Stephen Arch, longtime Lewes resident, who had been travelling the world with the Leonard Cohen road-show for four years as his lighting crew chief. 

We had literally bumped into each other by chance in the Lewes Arms when Steve was just grabbing some lunch before heading up North to rejoin the tour. 

I gave him some copies of the very first issue of the Lewes Musical Express, produced by myself and designer Raphael Whittle. [We published four issues of this paper and one issue of the Brighton Musical Times before retiring for a lie-down.]

Later that day, Steve bumped into our mutual friend the artist Pete Messer and it was his idea to photograph Leonard reading the paper. When Steve asked Leonard, who was coming off stage after a sound check, whether he would do him a favour and pose for this picture he said: “Yeah bro. Let’s do it”. How cool is that.

Tragically our friend Steve died, suddenly not long afterwards. Now, three years later, Leonard has gone, writing poems to the end.

You can read all five issues online here: www.lewesmusical 

Original caption:
We have Derek Haggar thank for these two great pictures of the legendary Ray Davies of The Kinks and Ian McCulloch of Echo & The Bunnymen. They are both reading the LME in sunny splendour in Spain. Ray was appearing at the Heineken Jazzaldia Festival on July 23rd and Derek was there as his guitar tech. The day they were leaving, Ian arrived for his gig on the 24th. Derek reliably reports that they both loved the paper. More musical legend readers to come in future issues.

Friday, November 04, 2016



'For Shirley Collins, a Folk Revival of Her Very Own' by Jim Farber [New York Times 7th Nov 2016]

The Quietus Podcast  by Luke Turner

After a day of gloomy weather and unsettling news on the radio, a day of grey cloud and damp rain, Lewes town is getting ready for Bonfire. As I write, bangs & explosions, nearby and faraway, punctuate the damp night air while I'm listening to Shirley Collins 'Lodestar' album in a state of wonder. Its been almost on rotate for the last two days.

Earlier this evening I briefly attended Shirley's in-store launch at Union Music, packed to the gills with advance record buyers. I already had mine.

The record was discreetly made in Shirley's front room in a house just up the street from me. Two days ago I was just walking past Shirley's house when she called out my name, came to her front door and gave me the record. I'm waiting for a call from the New York Times, she said.

Let's just lay down the law on this one. This a classic record that is also tremendously unexpected, daring, deep. 40 years after her last recording and 30 years after she stopped singing completely, Shirley confidently emerges with a set of recordings that have a special magic. Quite possibly amongst the most important folk records ever made.

Her collaborators are to be congratulated and thanked for providing immaculate settings for a suite of songs that will touch you on all kinds of strange levels. Reaching through time - will you let me live just a few years more - the lyric of 'Death and the Lady' comes into my consciousness.

The album is beautifully constructed and takes you on a trip: From old Sussex mirroring Shirley's roots in Hastings and her connection with friend and mentor Bob Copper, patriarch of the Copper Family.; to the southern states of the USA when as a 19-year old, she accompanied the musicologist Alan Lomax on a song-recording trip. Finally: 'Silver Swan': A gem.

This album has so much to give and will inspire others to stretch their imaginations. Is it too fanciful to think that these recordings will awaken something in our English and American hearts at a time when the Klingons seem to be making the big plays.

I googled 'lodestar' and Google offered this:
ˈa star that is used to guide the course of a ship, especially the pole star.
  1. "she dominated his existence as chief muse and intellectual lodestar"
    synonyms:guide, guiding star, guiding light, role modelmodelluminaryexemplar,idealinspiration

Thursday, November 03, 2016


An agreement to create the largest marine reserve in the world, around twice the size of Texas, has been reached by the representatives of 24 nations and the European Union that make up the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

This international deal, due to take effect in December 2017, will set aside 1.55 million square kilometres of the Ross Sea, a deep Antarctic bay 3,500 kilometres south of New Zealand, from commercial fishing and mineral exploitation.
The Ross Sea is one of the least-altered ecosystems on Earth, containing a complete array of marine mammals, seabirds and other marine life that are vulnerable to human disturbance and the effects of climate change. The biodiversity in the region includes a significant percentage of the global distributions of: Adélie penguins (38%); emperor penguins (26%); Antarctic petrels (30%); Antarctic minke whales (6%); Weddell seals (45%) and killer whales (50%). 

It is a milestone for ocean conservation and Russia’s relationship with the rest of the world. After years of unsuccessful talks, 24 nations and the European Union agreed on 28 October to create the largest marine reserve in the world, 
According to the full account in Nature :'It is the first time that countries have joined together to protect a major chunk of the high seas — the areas of ocean that are largely unregulated because they do not fall under the jurisdiction of any one nation.'
The breakthrough on this agreement, which had been undergoing negotiation for many years, was the support of Russia which had previously blocked. Scientists now hope now to accelerate marine protection efforts around the world, particularly in other regions around Antarctica.


At this year's meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) plans to create the South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary (SAWS) were once again rejected. The idea was first proposed at the IWC in 2001.

This year the proposal was put forward by Brazil’s Environment Minister Sarney Filho, who said it was "high time" for the IWC to take this crucial step to adopt the SAWS initiative, “a mature proposal,” which has been revised and refined over many years. 

The proposal's co-sponsors were Gabon, South Africa, Argentina and Uruguay - coastal states who feel the SAWS would benefit them - and a one million signature petition.

South Africa claimed that new whale watching opportunities could help replace lost mining jobs and dismissed the myth that whales were responsible for the decline in fish stocks, which, he said, was clearly due to legal and illegal overfishing.

Supporters of the sanctuary proposal were India, Mexico, Monaco, the United States, Chile, Australia, and the Netherlands, on behalf of the European Union.

Opposed were Japan, Antigua and Barbuda, Guinea, Iceland, Norway, Russia, and South Korea.

An IWC vote requires a three-fourths majority to pass. The sanctuary proposal was rejected with 38 members voting in favour, but 24 opposing and two abstentions.


These are the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
These are the reasons why we need a healthy ocean.
  • No Poverty — The “Blue Economy” (fishing, shipping, tourism, aquaculture, energy production, biotechnology, etc.) is an enormous economic driver valued at $3 trillion annuallyBillions of people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. A healthy ocean can help reduce poverty.
  • Zero Hunger — Over 3 billion people depend on the ocean for nutrition, as their primary source of protein. A healthy ocean can help reduce hunger and support food security.
  • Good Health and Well-Being — Seafood provides key micronutrients that hard for many to obtain elsewhere. Chemical compounds from algae and sponges are helping to treat cancer and Alzheimer’s. The ocean supports mental health through our emotional connection to the sea, a connection which can result in neuroconservation.
  • Quality Education — Our brains don’t work well when we are hungry or malnourished. A healthy ocean means healthy and abundant seafood, which supports children’s ability to learn, and supports incomes from the Blue Economy that enable parents to pay school fees.
  • Gender Equality — In the fisheries sector, roles are highly gendered (e.g., the term “fishermen”) and discrimination (including wage discrimination) is rampant.
  • Clean Water and Sanitation — Coastal ecosystems have an impressive (and currently highly overtaxed) capacity to filter the sewage that is continually dumped into it. Wetlands, mangroves, and oyster reefs serve a highly valuable role in maintaining water quality.
  • Affordable and Clean Energy — The ocean has enormous clean energy potential that is just beginning to be harnessed, including from wind, wave, tidal, biomass, thermal conversion, and salinity gradients.
  • Decent Work and Economic Growth — Marine fishing alone (not to mention, aquaculture, tourism, and research) provides over 350 million jobs, 90% of which are in developing countries. Although many of those fishing jobs are not decent right now (overfishing means it’s often hard to make a good living, and slavery and human rights abuses proliferate), they could be.
  • Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure — Clean energy and biotechnology are burgeoning and innovative ocean industries. Coastal infrastructure is a growing focus, especially given sea level rise and the increasing frequency and severity of storms.
  • Reduced Inequalities — In places with high poverty there is often an increased dependence on natural resources. To reduce inequality, the ocean resources that people rely on to survive need to be sustainably managed and accessible.
  • Sustainable Cities and Communities — Around 50% of the world’s population lives within 60 km of the coast, and around 75% of large cities are coastal. If these communities are to be sustainable they need to have a harmonious relationship with their adjacent waters.
  • Responsible Production and Consumption — An estimated 3 million tons of seafood are caught and then discarded as bycatch each year. Meanwhile fishing is subsidized at over $25 billion a year. And we are on track to have more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. None of this seems terribly responsible.
  • Climate Action — The ocean has absorbed approximately 33% of the carbon emissions since the industrial revolutionMangroves and coastal wetlands sequester carbon at a rate two to four times greater than mature tropical forests and store three to five times more carbon per equivalent area.
  • Life Under Water — Yay for the ocean and all it does to support us!
  • Life on Land — Land and sea are intimately connected. Without a healthy ocean, life on land (especially in coastal areas) suffers.
  • Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions — A degraded ocean can result in a breakdown of institutions. For example, overfishing eliminates fishing livelihoods and can cause people to turn to piracy. More broadly, smuggling of people weapons, drugs, and seafood across borders and the high seas is shockingly common. Ocean conservation is a human rights and national security issue.
  • Partnerships for the Goals — The ocean knows no geopolitical or socioeconomic boundaries, and 64% of the ocean is high seas (outside of national jurisdictions). Seawater, fish, and pollution flow around the globe, making partnerships critical.

  • According to Ayana Elizabeth Johnson: 'These linkages between ocean conservation and other aspects of sustainable development are not commonly understood, and that has financial implications. Right now the ocean goal only receives 0.74% of all the philanthropic funding dedicated toward the SDGs — meanwhile the ocean is 72% of planet! If people don’t understand how intrinsic a healthy ocean is to most aspects of human well-being, they certainly won’t be motivated to invest in the solutions.

    Source: Ocean Views/National Geographic

    Tuesday, November 01, 2016


    The story of Rodin's 'The Kiss' in Lewes has hit the national press again with the discovery of a new photo that shows, for the first time, the wrapped statue, sitting at the end of the Assembly Room which is full of troops having Xmas dinner before shipping out to France and, in most cases, to certain death.

    In a nine-year project, I uncovered the story of how 'The Kiss 'commissioned around 1900 by two gay guys – E.P. Warren and John Marshall - came to be in Lewes and what happened during its 30-year sojourn in the town. I then persuaded the Tate Gallery to lend it to me in 1999 for a five-month long exhibition, in the company of other Rodin works borrowed from the V&A and the Musee Rodin in Paris.

    You can read the fuller story in this previous post: JM ARCHIVE: RODIN IN LEWES  written on the occasion of the Tate lending 'The Kiss' to the new Turner Gallery in Margate.
    Was contacted recently by the Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney, Australia who  are staging a major exhibition opening this Nov 5th and running to 5th Feb 2017  entitled 'Nude: Art from the Tate collection' in Sydney. It features the Lewes Kiss - the first time it has ever left Britain.

    As to how and why 'The Kiss' was lent to Lewes, here's an extract from catalog essay:

    'For reasons that again are not known, Warren then offered to lend it to Lewes Town Council. It was to be placed in the Town Hall, at the South End of the Assembly Room. Negotiations began in January and were concluded by May 1914; on 4 August war was declared. The Kiss was moved from Lewes House to the Town Hall by trolley, using three men and four horses, and was ' installed in the Assembly Room on 2 December 1914.

    The same week, the Assembly Room was opened as a reading, writing and recreation room for troops billeted in the town. Regular boxing matches were staged in the same room, where, according to the recollections of one resident (recorded by the Borough librarian), the sculpture was 'used as a vantage point from which to obtain a better view of the boxing ... at one match, the audience pressed so closely round the statue that you could see the sweat running down the woman's back.'

    Then, early in 1915, The Kiss was suddenly wrapped in canvas and marked off with a guard rail. Whatever the cause of the cover-up, it was not written about in either the Council minutes or the press of the day. Press reports from 1929 refer to 'susceptibilities being offended' and to the undraped figures of The Kiss 'as offending the proprieties'. The search for more evidence will no doubt continue, but the upshot was that the Town Council returned the statue, saying only that the room did 'not lend itself to such a noble piece of statuary.' On 26 February 1917, The Kiss was once more taken to the stable block where it was to remain for a further sixteen years.'

    Collection of 150,000 glass plate negatives includes image of blanket-draped sculpture during soldier’s Boxing Day dinner
    The article is by Maeve Kennedy, who interviewed me for a story on the original exhibition back in 1999: Lewes to Kiss and make up at last

    The photo has come to light because of the work of Brigitte Lardinois who is working with a team to steadily digitise and catalogue the vast Reeves collection ( 1/10th in so far) made by four generations of the family, the oldest family photographic business known, still operating from the original studio in the town. It is unique in the world, including every scrap of documentation to enable the identification of all the subjects from 1855.

    Lardinois came up with the wonderful idea of displaying the collections treasures in light boxes placed in the windows of businesses throughout the town. This year's presentation focuses on the First World War period.

    To come is an article 'Rehabilitating Kate Fowler Tutt (1868-1954) by Frances Stenlake, to be published in a forthcoming edition of the 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' its a valuable and highly detailed account of Miss Tutt's contributions to the town.
    The story that I was told was that Miss Fowler-Tutt had been responsible in some way for having 'The Kiss' covered up on moral grounds. Stories dating back to 1915 suggest that was some kind of kerfuffle over the statue and that its being covered was not just to protect it from being damaged. Here's one:
    The Jackdaw, whose regular column ‘Caws from the Castle’, appeared in the weekly Sussex County Herald, wrote a piece entitled ‘Under The Canvas’ for the issue dated 25th Sept 1915. 

    ‘A reader who writes under the well worn name ENQUIRER asks me if I can give any information as to the ugly lump of canvas surrounded by a fence in our Town Hall. Yes, Enquirer, I can. It is not all ugly canvas which you can see. It is merely a covering which hides from the public gaze one of the most beautiful pieces of statuary of recent years...’
    He concludes: ‘Strange to say, since its erection there, it has hardly seen day light. Practically the only times when the public can see this statue are at entertainments and then it is covered up. Why is this? Is it decorously covered hidden from view because of our prurient minds.’
    Miss Fowler-Tutt was definitely vocal on issues regarding young girl's behaviour in a town full of young troops but there is no firm documentation linking her with a cover-up of 'The Kiss'. Was it all just Chinese whispers? We may never know the whole truth.