Every year in Provence, the start of summer is marked by the flowering of lavender fields, much to the delight of tourists but especially for bees coming from far and wide to forage this sacred flower.Beekeeper Jerome Payen, based in the Alpes-Maritimes for 19 years, practices the transhumance of bees, which consists of transporting beehives to the Valensole plateau, renowned for its lavender fields stretching as far as the eye can see.
A girl sits at the edge of her dorm room, staring at the construction site outside her window. A boy plays the violin, for an audience of the few people still around him. Elsewhere, a set of hands carefully writes in a notebook.These are some of the moments captured by Vamika Singh, a final-year student at New York University of Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), where she and her peers decided to remain, as life went into lockdown. With the pandemic spreading across the globe, universities worldwide were confronted with a dilemma: should students remain on campus or should they leave, immediately, for home? No institution was saved from having to make this decision. Classes began to move online, students booked flights back to their home countries, and many campuses closed their doors indefinitely.
In May 2018, with a slight grin on his face, an American news reporter asked three black members of the West End cast of Hamilton what it was like being in a musical about the winners “in the home of the losers”. They stared back, confused at the question and how it related to them. It clearly wasn’t the gotcha moment the reporter was hoping for. Many black people in the UK – myself included – who are first, second or third-generation immigrants don’t lose sleep over Britain not winning the American War of Independence, the story around which the 11 Tony Award-winning musical revolves. In fact, many of our families hail from countries colonised and torn apart by British rule and aren’t exactly filled with unbridled patriotism when it comes to Britain’s colonial legacy. Context is everything.When Hamilton arrived on the new streaming service Disney+ on 4 July (to coincide with Independence Day in the US), it gave fans the opportunity to watch the hit musical at a fraction of the cost. But its small-screen debut also reignited a conversation on whether art has a responsibility to be historically accurate. Alexander Hamilton campaigned for manumission – slave-owners voluntarily freeing their slaves – but he was not an abolitionist. What’s more, his wife’s family – and that of Washington, another hero in Miranda’s tale – owned enslaved people. Hamilton even helped his sister-in-law Angelica with the “purchase” of an enslaved mother and child. As CancelHamilton began trending on Twitter, a question arose: is it downright dangerous to oversimplify the history of the 10-dollar Founding Father, or just a flexing of creative licence – a song and dance not to be taken that seriously?
The government’s announcement of a £1.57bn bailout for the culture sector is an acknowledgement – if somewhat belated – of the vital importance of the arts in our national life. “The beating heart of the nation,” boomed the prime minister. And if that’s hardly the subtlest of metaphors, for once Johnson got it essentially right.There’s a tendency to think of theatres, art galleries and concert halls as optional luxuries in the wider struggle of life: frivolous add-ons that societies can afford to enjoy once they’ve paid for the really important things: health, education, infrastructure, defence. In fact, the arts, culture – whatever you want to call it – performs a vital function in our society, just as essential, in my opinion, as any of the so-called essential services we’ve been hearing so much about.
Pioneering film star Earl Cameron, one of the first black actors to break through in British cinema, has died at the age of 102.The man “with the voice of God and the heart of a kindly prince” passed away at his home in Warwickshire on Thursday.
Three powerful memoirs out in July are part of what is more like the usual monthly publishing avalanche. Woman’s Hour presenter Jenni Murray writes about her own battle with obesity in Fat Cow, Fat Chance (Doubleday). Murray admits to the pain she’s suffered after getting vile abuse about her size. Her candid book is an eloquent reminder that “fat-shaming is hate speech”.Fragments of My Father (4th Estate) by Sam Mills is a poignant memoir about being a carer for a father who suffered from mental illness. Mills melds her own touching story with reflections on the literary figures – including Zelda Fitzgerald – who have been through similar struggles. The third bitingly honest autobiographical tale is Terri White’s Coming Undone (Canongate), in which the Derbyshire-born editor-in-chief of Empire movingly documents how she rebuilt her life after incidents of physical and sexual abuse.
Peter Beard’s illustrated diaries, which he kept from a young age, evolved into a serious career as an artist and earned him a central position in the international art world.He collaborated with Francis Bacon and Salvador Dali, made diaries with Andy Warhol, worked on books with scientists such as Dr Norman Borlaug and Alistair Graham, and toured with Truman Capote, Terry Southern, and the Rolling Stones – all of whom are brought to life in his work.
At the height of the Covid-19 crisis 1.6 billion children from around the world were sent home and the school gates were closed. But this figure excludes the 258 million children who were already out of school with no access to education – 59 million at primary level, according to Unesco’s Institute for Statistics.The effects of school closure on child safety, wellbeing and learning are well documented. This also has long-term consequences for economies and societies resulting in a perpetual cycle of multi-dimensional poverty. A survey conducted by Unesco in 2017 discovered that 56 per cent (617 million) of children in classrooms around the world are not achieving minimum proficiency levels.
The opening scenes of the filmed version of the Broadway musical Hamilton, which starts streaming on Disney+ from today, pull you back in time to two distinct periods. The people on stage, in their breeches and brass-buttoned coats, belong to the New York of 1776. That is when a 19-year-old, freshly arrived from the Caribbean – the “bastard, immigrant, son of a whore” who shares his name with the show – makes his move and takes his shot, joining up with a squad of anti-British revolutionaries and eventually finding his way to George Washington’s right hand and the front of the $10 bill.But this Hamilton, played with relentless energy and sly charm by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the music, book, and lyrics, also belongs to the New York of 2016. Filmed (by the show’s director, Thomas Kail, and cinematographer Declan Quinn) in front of a live audience at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in June of that year, the movie, while not strictly speaking a documentary, is nonetheless a document of its moment. It evokes a swirl of ideas, debates, dreams, and assumptions that can feel, in the present moment, as elusive as the intrigue and ideological sparring of the late 1700s.
Amazon has released a mysterious teaser for a TV adaptation of Fallout, the popular video game.The clip, unveiled on Thursday, lasts just 23 seconds and contains the mentions “Amazon Original” and “Please stand by”.
Brighton residents know the sound well – the stentorian rattle of engines, as a fleet of Vespas and Lambrettas zip down the promenade. It feels odd for a moment, as if there’s been a rip in the space-time continuum and a little of the Swinging Sixties has trickled out. But it’s tradition here. On sunny weekends, mod aficionados gather in the city to fraternise, evangelise, and compare the number of mirrors on their scooters. Brighton was a favoured hang-out spot for the original mods, who’d travel down from London to the south’s seaside resorts, eager to ruffle the feathers of middle-class daytrippers.Trouble came in the form of the rockers, their rivals. It was like the Capulets versus the Montagues – divided not by blood, but by the way someone might wear their hair. The mods (short for “modernist”) embraced continental style, with their crisply tailored suits and Italian scooters. To protect said suit while on said scooter, parkas became a staple. The girls wore miniskirts, as popularised by Mary Quant. The rockers, meanwhile, were bikers. Their “tough guy” attitude complemented their black leather jackets, Doc Marten boots, and Elvis pompadours.
In June 1986, a now-famous photograph was taken of a group of young people out on the town in New York. These were not your everyday revellers, but some of the greatest innovators and creative upstarts of the era, all miraculously caught in a single frame. Taken by Andy Warhol – because, who else? – the picture features the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, wearing a suit and staring impertinently into the lens, as if to say, “Why yes, I am beautiful. Drink me in.” To the left of him is the Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, looking glamorous, if a little lubricated, in an embroidered shirt-and-trousers combo. Next to Kuti is model and singer Grace Jones, all cheekbones and hard stares. She is deep in conversation with a goofy white man with sticky-out ears and glasses, and whose eyebrows are comically raised.This man, who looks startlingly like the boy in the Where’s Wally? books, was the US artist Keith Haring. Many won’t recognise him now, but in the mid-Eighties he was every bit as famous as his new celebrity playmates. His joyful cartoon images of crawling babies, barking dogs and dancing men were on walls, billboards and in galleries everywhere – for a time, a Haring baby even lit up Times Square.
I was raised by an overprotective single mother. She did her best to prepare me for the realities of being a black man in America, but she also made sure to let me know that not everyone white was a racist. Still, she was terrified of one group of people: the police. And of her son encountering them.She warned me that the police would treat me differently because, as she put it affectionately, of the “beautiful ebony hue of my skin”. She implored me to never do anything that would raise their suspicions, and, above all, never to drive at night with a white woman in the car. I would nod my head. Yes, yes, yes. But I was a teenager and not given to listening. Her warnings went in one ear and exited the other. I just did not take her seriously. It was the Nineties in Oklahoma, and I was ignorant of the world around me; of what had happened in Los Angeles in 1992. To me, things had gotten better. Then I saw a Spike Lee movie. And I began to understand. It was the first of many lessons his films would teach me.
Finn Wolfhard came close to quitting acting shortly before his life-changing audition for Stranger Things.The actor, who has played Mike Wheeler for three seasons of the hit Netflix show, recounted in a new interview with The Guardian how he scored the role at a critical moment in his budding career.
Glastonbury photographer Emma Stoner has created a crowdsourced photo series in tribute to this year’s cancelled edition of Glastonbury Festival. The People’s History Project contains hundreds of submitted stories from past attendees throughout the festival’s 50-year history.The images tell a varied story of the Glastonbury experience: some are of families with children, others young people at their first festival – some of all-night partying at Block9 and others of peaceful recollection in the Green Fields.
The creator of Bojack Horseman has reflected on the show’s portrayal of a Vietnamese-American character, saying a “racist error” was made in her depiction.Raphael Bob-Waksberg addressed the topic on Twitter, after someone asked why Diane Nguyen, the character in question, was voiced by Alison Brie, a white actor, on the Netflix show.
Regina King has shared an update on whether she’d consider returning for season two of Watchmen, should the show get a second chapter.The actor spoke to Reese Witherspoon in a video chat for Variety.
Eric Andre refused to let the “middle-aged white people” at Netflix remove a police prank he performs on his upcoming comedy special Legalize Everything.The scene sees the actor-comedian posing as a police officer and handing out fake drugs to strangers on the street in New Orleans.
Irish actor Brendan Gleeson transformed himself into the 45th President of the United States for a forthcoming series about the conflict between Donald Trump and former FBI director James Comey.Showtime announced the two-part miniseries The Comey Rule will air after the 2020 election in November, with Jeff Daniels in the title role.
At first glance, it is hard to place People of the Mud in time. Photographer Luis Alberto Rodriguez captures primordial shapes in stark black and white; bodies twisted strangely, augmented with elaborate costumes, and staring, work-worn faces. But People of the Mud isn’t some relic of an obscure and long-lost community. It documents current-day Wexford, the rural seaside county in southeastern Ireland.Now a book released by Loose Joints, People of the Mud is the product of a two-month artist residency in Wexford. Rodriguez, a Dominican-American living in Berlin, was utterly unfamiliar with Ireland when he arrived. Despite his planning and research, he was wrong-footed almost immediately – the only available local darkroom was only set up for black-and-white photos, leading him to hastily learn how to develop monochrome prints. “It was really scary because I didn’t have any digital backups,” he told The Independent. “My time was very limited so I couldn’t f*** this up.”
Off all the legacies left behind by the USSR – a nation whose tumultuous existence created waves for more than seven decades – design is not one that jumps instantly to mind. On paper at least, rigid communist practises and the policing of cultural norms doesn’t sound like a recipe for artistic flair. However, the opposite is true – the Soviet Union birthed a remarkable era of creativity and innovation, much of which can still be found today.Perhaps one of the most interesting examples are the street signs that pop up across the vast landscape of Russia – a monster territory which once spanned 6,200 miles, from inner Europe all the way to the far east. Beyond the obvious statues of Lenin and Stalin, intended to inspire good communists, these objects are vibrant examples of the all-encompassing propaganda machine designed to enforce the Soviet vision.
Former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic set his Facebook to private and deleted Twitter after his praise for Donald Trump‘s “law and order” speech caused a mixture of uproar and disappointment among fans and fellow musicians.Mr Trump warned on Monday that he would “mobilise all available federal resources, civilian and military, to stop the rioting and looting” following the death of George Floyd in police custody.
One of the most influential fashion and portrait photographers, Mario Testino is responsible for the creation of emblematic images, transmitting emotion and energy in an open and intimate way.Throughout his four-decade career, Testino has gone beyond the world of fashion to capture traditions and cultures from a unique point of view.
What’s the best way to say “I love you” to the most special people in your life? Get Barry from EastEnders to do it? Have Big Keith from The Office compose a poem? Maybe pay a fake Taylor Swift to sing “Shake It Off” to your nan? Celebrity video messaging sites have an A-lister – or a Z-lister – for every occasion and have been popular for a while but since lockdown began, their rise into everyday consciousness has been as meteoric as Barnard Castle-based attempts to insult the public’s intelligence.Bookings at US site Cameo, whose roster varies from Snoop Dogg to Love Island’s Josh Kempton, have shot up sevenfold, piling on 63,000 extra customers a week since January. Ten times as many people want the services of Paul Chuckle, Winston from Ghostbusters and Rebecca Adlington, according to video messaging service Celeb VM. Another site, Studio 54 – home to ex-Holby City star Leslie Ash, Crabbe from Harry Potter plus the mother-in-law of Grindah from People Just Do Nothing – said, in an interview, that it had seen a 60 per cent rise in business. And the content that people are requesting is much more personal than you’d expect.