Friday, 21 November 2014

Between Dog and Wolf - New Model Army

Between Dog and Wolf is an excellent documentary about New Model Army, following the band from their early days in Bradford to the current day and with many of their best tracks packed into the soundtrack.

I'm always struck by the band's refusal to compromise their artistic or political integrity and their ability to channel their anger about social and environmental issues into powerful, engaging music that keeps winning them new fans 30 years on. Their sound, which started off as post-punk rage in the 1980s has mellowed over the years, though the political engagement is as strong as ever.

After seeing the film the other day at The Filmhouse, we bought the CD album Between Dog and Wolf, which proves very clearly that this is a band that is not content to rest on their laurels but who are continuing to produce brilliant music, most notably the title track and the powerful protest against environmental destruction Tomorrow Came 

As we slashed and we burned and laid waste to it all
to the glory and the vanity of rock and roll
Saying I want it all, give me more and more
As our children stood in silence and watched us
And now pray God they'll forgive us

And given that I'm reading a lot about wolves at the moment, I just love the whole concept that is summed up in the phrase Between Dog and Wolf - the space between domestication and wildness, between our best friend and our greatest enemy.

Excellent film and a great album from one of the best bands around. 

The film is showing tonight at the Star and Shadow Cinema in Newcastle. For future screenings, check out the New Model Army website and scroll down.

New Model Army are also a great band to see live (we saw them a couple of years ago) and if you want to see where they're appearing next check out this page.

Worth also mentioning the band's close collaboration with Joolz Denby, poet, tattoist and artist, who creates all the wonderful artwork for the band's CD sleeves.

As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more. 

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Teal on the lagoons

A small group of male teal circle each other on the lagoon. In turn, each raises his front body and flicks his head forward then flicks his tail upwards, showing off the beautiful teal green flash that normally is hidden under the wing. All the time they're making a melodious squeaking sound.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Passenger Pigeons - haiku and links

feral pigeons flock -
shadow passenger pigeons
darkening skies


I like the idea of Fold the Flock, an origami project to remember the passenger pigeon.

You may be interested in my previous posts that relate to the passenger pigeon:

Yesterday, I reviewed 'A Message from Martha'Mark Avery's remarkable book about what we can learn from the extinction of the passenger pigeon.

On 1 September 2014, the centenary of the death of Martha, the last ever passenger pigeon, I reviewed  'Pigeon' a wonderful book by Barbara Allen.

You can read my poem Passenger Pigeon here.

As ever, red text contains hyperlins that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.

Monday, 17 November 2014

A Message from Martha by Mark Avery

On 1 September 1914, Martha, the last Passenger Pigeon died in Concinnati Zoo.

In this remarkable book,  A Message from Martha, Mark Avery, former conservation director of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) explores how the passenger pigeon, once the most numerous bird in the world, was pushed into extinction.

Europeans hunted the passenger pigeon remorselessly, destroyed the forests that it lived in and didn't understand its breeding biology well enough to be able to recognise the signs that the species was in steep decline until it was too late.

Avery travels throughout the former range of the Passenger Pigeon to try to understand more of its biology and to try to imagine what these lands would have looked like if the huge flocks of pigeons were still there, darkening the sky as they flew over and breaking trees with the weight of their breeding colonies. He pieces together what he can of the breeding biology of this bird, giving a picture of a bird so numerous it didn't bother to protect itself from predators (which meant that when it's number declined, predators started having proportionately a much greater effect on the populations) and one that travelled from place to place to take advantage of the year's best food sources rather than being loyal to particular places (meaning that people were much less aware when the species started to decline).

He also outlines key facts from American history (and the life of Martha Grier, a resident of Ohio, who died on the same day as Martha the Passenger Pigeon) so that we can see that the story of this species is just part of the overall story of how 'Progress' was responsible for a diminuition in US wildlife in the time period during which the passenger pigeon plummeted from being hugely numerous to being made extinct.

The later chapters ask what relevance does the extinction of this one species have for us today? Parallels are drawn with the rapidly declining turtle dove in the UK.

The book ends with an imagined message from Martha:

'I forgive you for wiping out my species - you didn't really mean to do it, and maybe you knew no better. .... However...You can now choose ... the level of future ecological devastation, and the excuse of ignorance no longer holds. Whether you do better in the future is a test of your worth as a species. You have the knowledge and ability to live sustainably on this planet but it's a hard road from where you are now. It's no longer a matter of what you know - you know enough. From here on, it's a test of whether you care - do you care enough? Please care. Please do better. Please start now.'

It's a message we need to listen to and act on, now, before it's too late for the wildlife that still remains.

A Message from Martha by Mark Avery, published by Bloomsbury.

As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other pages where you can find out more.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Woven thermos Flask cosy

I recently asked on Facebook if anyone had ideas for small scale practocal based weaving projects to use up the rest of my scrap wool.

Thanks Melissa (of Art in the Wind) for suggesting cosies for bottles and cups which reminded me that I had thought about making a cosy for my thermos flask. So that's exactly what I did and here's the result.

Now my coffee will be even warmer when I'm sitting in the bird hides at Musselburgh!

I next may make some little woven bags (another idea from Melissa!)....

Thursday, 13 November 2014