Archive for 30/07/2015

One Billion Hungry: Can We Feed the World?

Stephanie Brittain

InfographicLaunched today by Agriculture for Impact, a new Sustainable Intensification database aims to explain the ecological, socio-economic and genetic approaches that together contribute to the Sustainable Intensification of agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa in an easily accessible way, illustrated by more than 80 case studies.

Never has there been a greater need for a new paradigm for improving African agriculture. Worldwide, more than 800 million people suffer from chronic hunger. Meanwhile, Africa’s population alone is set to double to 2.4 billion by 2050, putting additional pressure on our planet’s resources to achieve food security for all. A 2011 FAO publication estimated that 1.2 million km2 of land will need to be converted to agriculture by 2030 to meet the increasing demand for food; most of which will need to occur in South America and sub-Saharan Africa. On top of that, climate change is likely to…

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Municipal Dreams

Last week’s post looked at the LCC’s open-air sculpture exhibitions but arguably the more significant contribution to the worthy attempt to bring art to the people lay in its ‘Arts Patronage Scheme’ inaugurated in 1956. By 1964 when it (and the LCC) were wound up, over 70 works of art had been purchased – adorning schools and housing estates across the capital.

Henry Moore, Two-Piece Reclining figure No. 3, the Brandon Estate, Lambeth  © Steve Cadman and made available through a Creative Commons licence Henry Moore, Two-Piece Reclining Figure No. 3, the Brandon Estate, Lambeth © Steve Cadman and made available through a Creative Commons licence

Many of these were significant pieces by some of the leading artists in the country. Nearly all were modernist works and its efforts were not, therefore, without controversy but they remain: (1)

outstanding in their ambition and coherence…In this respect, the LCC may be said to have assisted in the democratisation, if not the socialisation, of art.

The origins of the scheme are marked by their time…

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Natalia Maks

Evening sky over Vicenza, Italy.


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WP_20150621_11_23_49_ProWe were staying with our daughter and her boyfriend in London. It was Fathers’ Day and a special day out was planned, incorporating a trip to Holland Park, a quick visit to St. John’s Wood Church Gardens (where we discovered the grave of John Sell Cotman, a well-known watercolourist of the Norwich School and a favourite artist of mine) and a vintage car event nearby. The weather was kind and the day was brilliant.

I really enjoyed Holland Park, which Wikipedia describes:

‘Holland Park is about 22 hectares (54 acres) in area and is considered one of the most romantic and peaceful parks of West London. The northern half or so of the park is semi-wild woodland, the central section around the ruins of Holland House is more formal with several garden areas, and the southernmost section is used for sport.

Holland House is now a fragmentary ruin, having been devastated by incendiary bombing in 1940, but the ruins and the grounds were bought by London County Council in 1952 from the last private owner, the 6th Earl of Ilchester. Today the remains of the house form a backdrop for the open air Holland Park Theatre, which is the home of  opera Holland Park. The green-roofed commonwealth Institute lies to the south.

The park contains a cafe as well as the Belvedere Restaurant that is attached to the orangery, a giant chess set, a cricket pitch, tennis courts, two Japanese gardens – the Kyoto Garden (1991) and the Fukushima Memorial garden (2012), a youth hostel, one of London’s best equipped children’s playgrounds, squirrels and (impressively for a London park) peacocks. In 2010, the park set aside a section for pigs whose job was to reclaim the area from nettles etc., in order to create another meadow area for wild flowers and fauna. Cattle were used subsequently to similar good effect.

The new Holland Park Ecology Centre (2013), operated by the borough’s Ecology Service, offers environmental education programs including nature walks, talks, programs for schools and outdoor activity programs for children.’

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I loved the scale and variety of the park which is broken up into separate gardens and spaces, each with its own character, and including a range of formal, semi formal and wild areas.

There is a delightful series of mural paintings on a wall beside a covered  walkway, which captures the park in earlier days.

I especially enjoyed the Japanese gardens, which use a range of typical design features to great effect in a relatively small space; tumbling water cascades, clipped evergreens, Acers, rocks etc. I think I will try to use some of these in my own pond project here at Old School Garden; e.g the clever use of interlaced thick bamboo poles to form a semi permeable screen. However, it did seem rather open and lacking the sorts of intimate, small spaces associated with ‘quiet contemplation’. Maybe this is down to the relative youth of the gardens- we can expect some of the trees and other planting to fill out with time. It might also be a conscious design feature, bowing to the inevitable demands on such a space in a public park; the many feet and bodies that undoubtedly pass through it.

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This Park is obviously well-loved and well looked after, a true community resource and one which serves an area much larger than its immediate posh neighbourhood in Kensington and Chelsea. Well worth a visit if you can.

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