Edward Burra – a truly original and brilliant artist.

Edward Burra – a truly original and brilliant artist.

Have you ever had one of those truly incredible strokes of complete coincidence? I did with Burra. I’d never heard of the guy. Then, back in the seventies, I was browsing in a book shop and pulled out this art book from among this big stack. I started glancing through and was immediately taken with these fabulous stylised paintings of Harlem in the thirties. The paintings were incredible – the colours, the images – very original. It was almost Picasso-like, almost surreal. I hadn’t seen anything quite like it. So I bought the book.

That night I put the telly on and lo and behold (there were only 3 channels back then – I don’t think Channel 4 had been invented) on BBC 2 was a documentary about Edward Burra which I watched with great enthusiasm. It was brilliant. At the end of the programme it mentioned that he had an exhibition at the Tate which I went to the very next day.

How amazing was that?

If I hadn’t have pulled that book out from that heap I’d have never known about him. In the space of two days I had discovered him, bought a book, watched a documentary and visited an exhibition. I’ve never seen anything more about him again. But I reckon he was a really important artist in the development of modern art.

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Ken Loach Quotes – Britain’s greatest Film Director!

Ken Loach Quotes – Britain’s greatest Film Director!

Ken Loach is my favourite Director. He is highly intelligent and his films always have a pertinent social message that I can empathise with. I like films that make you think. Ken is the conscience of the nation. His films should be compulsory – particularly for Tories who are usually incapable of appreciating human suffering.

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Maybe if we tell the truth about the past, we can tell the truth about the present.

I see the lies and despair. Brexit and Trump – a litany of hatred and lies. The media and politicians all have their agenda and no scruples. It’s getting worse. The sheeple are treated with utter scorn and manipulated.

A movie isn’t a political movement, a party or even an article. It’s just a film. At best it can add its voice to public outrage.

There’s a hell of a lot of injustice and rage to tap into.

About Thatcher’s death: Let’s privatise her funeral. Put it out on competitive tender and accept the cheapest bid. That’s what she would have wanted.

Such with and humour. I’m glad they buried her. They just did it fifty years too late.

I turned down the OBE because its not a club you want to join when you look at the villains who’ve got it. Its all the things I think are despicable: patronage, deferring to the monarchy and the name of the British Empire, which is a monument of exploitation and conquest.

Not many people with that calibre of integrity. Too many money-grabbing, power-seeking selfish gits who take the money.

One lesson to learn is that the press and the broadcasters are not neutral. And it seems we have to learn it each time there is a dispute: they are actually committed to one side.

Orgreave taught me that even the BBC have their agenda. The bias is there. The establishment orchestrate out feelings.

In the end the privatisation of war is not acceptable. We shouldn’t be issuing these sub-contracts to these contracting companies because the people who run them are making millions. There should be no relationship between ex-politicians and them, like John Reid and Malcolm Rifkind, who are now associated with contracting companies having been ministers of defence. That’s unacceptable.

It is incredible hoe people like Rumsfeldt are raking it in! Should be a law against it!

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Pete Smith – Cartoons of Genius – The god of Time

Pete Smith – Cartoons of Genius – The god of Time

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There is never enough time in the world to sit and appreciate what a beautiful world we live in and what an amazing universe we are part of.

The clock is our god. We worship it and it rules our lives.

Pete Smith – Genius cartoons – bursting the childhood bubble

Pete Smith – Genius cartoons – bursting the childhood bubble


The things we do to our children. The lies we tell. We furnish them with dragons, tooth fairies and Santa Claus. We foist religion on them.

Then we ridicule them for believing things or enjoy ripping their world to bits. We take away the tooth fairy, Santa Claus and dragons and ridicule them for daydreaming.

A shame we didn’t take away the religion too!

Perhaps we should let that childhood imagination blossom?

Pete summed it up in his cartoons from 1971.

Pete Smith – Genius Cartoons – The world is wondrous when we allow it to be.

Pete Smith – Genius Cartoons – The world is wondrous when we allow it to be.

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Pete and I both had this feeling that children see the world in all its splendour but as we grow up that gets knocked out of us; they get told how to view things, what to appreciate and what is good and what is bad.

Bad education makes a chore out of looking at things that should be wondrous.

We should encourage people to be able to look at something beautiful and see its beauty magnified in our minds. That is education – understanding and celebrating the wonders of the universe.

Pete Smith – Genius Cartoons – Nuclear questions

Pete Smith – Genius Cartoons – Nuclear questions

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I grew up with the threat of nuclear war hanging over my head. I know that even now I have a number of nuclear missiles aimed right at me. For me nuclear war almost looked inevitable.

I think we were used as an aircraft carrier for the USA. They cynically believed they could fight a limited war with the USSR which would involve Europe but not the USA. A third Word War and nuclear holocaust was a real possibility.

Fortunately it hasn’t happened yet. But the possibility still exists.

I am in favour of unilateral disarmament but, of course, would much prefer multilateral disarmament. I do not believe that nuclear weapons make us safer.

The interesting thing about this cartoon is that the nuclear explosion is made up of question marks. We all have these huge seismic questions in our heads about life, purpose, meaning, mysticism, morality, afterlife and what is sacred. They are the nuclear bombs inside our heads.

Pete Smith’s Cartoons of Genius – The teaching of Science

Pete Smith’s Cartoons of Genius – The teaching of Science


Our Zoology course was a disaster. We had a huge mass of facts to learn and regurgitate. Instead of a celebration of life it was a boring memory test. Instead of piercing the awe  and wonder of living specimens it was a tedious analysis of dead bodies. We had to learn diagnostic features and categorise everything.

It ran counter to our love of the living world.

Pete summed it up with this cartoon.

Science should we about wonder, awe and mystery. It should be fun and fulfilling. It is the most exciting subject ever.

Pete Smith’s Cartoons of Genius – Science and the beauty of the world

Pete Smith’s Cartoons of Genius – Science and the beauty of the world


There’s a beautiful world out there. Science should help us learn how it works and make it even better.

All too often science is used for profit and serves only to create a dustbin out of beauty.

Scientists should be life-affirming, enhancing and promoting wonder. That is what science is about.

There’s a beautiful world out there. We have to look after it – not turn it into a rubbish dump.

Pete Smith’s Cartoons of Genius – Rebirth into a better world.

Pete Smith’s Cartoons of Genius – Rebirth into a better world.


Back in the sixties we really believed that we were part of a generation who had woken up to the horrors that our society was creating with its warmongering, hatred, environmental destruction, xenophobia, racism and pollution. We believed we could find a new way forward where money wasn’t the main thing; where we could live more freely and happily in a simpler fashion in harmony with nature.

It proved a short-lived dream. The establishment machine rolled over us and sucked us in. It made profit out of every aspect we stood for and sucked it dry. The ideals were sold back to us as fashion. The machine rolls on crushing all before it.

Back in 1971 Pete was envisioning that new birth into a bright new future away from the drudgery and pollution of the past.

It was a brave new world out there and love was the answer. We were setting off to explore.