Hadrian’s Wall To Be Turned Into World’s Longest Work Of Art

Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian’s Wall has been the traditional boundary between England and Scotland ever since it was built by the Romans in the second century A.D. This 73-mile long structure was once the northernmost limit of the Roman Empire.

As part of the London 2012 Festival, the New York-based artists’ collective YesYesNo will light up the entire length with a series of tethered balloons lit by internal LED lights to create a line of pulsating colors. The project, called Connecting Light, aims to transform this protective border into a line of communication.

The lights will change color to respond to messages sent across the wall. Go to the website to write your own and it may be picked to be part of this interesting project. They’re looking for messages about connectivity across borders, are pretty much anything positive. Check out their blog to see how this massive art project is shaping up.

If you can’t make it up there, you can follow the action online. The project runs from August 31-September 1.

Bee Gees Getting Blue Plaque While Monty Python Passed Over

blue plaqueAny traveler in the UK is familiar with the Blue Plaques. The plaques mark the spot of a famous event or building, or where a famous person has lived, worked, or died.

English Heritage has recently announced that due to government budget cuts, half of the shortlist for new plaques will be canceled, with such big names as Beatles manager Brian Epstein and Monty Python’s Graham Chapman missing out, the BBC reports.

Some forty other prominent people have received the go-ahead, including comedian Peter Sellers and actor David Niven.

Blue plaques help bring context to a walk through UK cities and towns. A stroll through London can show you where Dickens worked in a sweatshop as a child, Marx researched “Das Kapital” and Jimi Hendrix spent his last days.

Other organizations put up similar plaques. The Heritage Foundation and Thame Town Council have announced they’ll unveil a blue plaque for Bee Gees singer Robin Gibb at his home in Oxfordshire. Near my house in Oxford is this blue plaque honoring Sir Roger Bannister, who ran the first mile under four minutes. He helped carry the Olympic torch this year.

It’s a shame some people won’t get blue plaques, but at least they didn’t give one to L. Ron Hubbard.

Video Of The Day: Cuban Trapeze Artists, To The Sounds Of The Temper Trap

With the Olympics in full swing, it’s easy to focus on the athletes’ accomplishments – the scores, the times, the medal counts – instead of celebrating the journey that brought them to London in the first place. Though not specific to the Olympic Games, this music video from Australian rock band The Temper Trap chronicles a journey that is probably familiar to many Olympians, particularly those in parts of the world where athletic training is less of a big business than it is in the United States.

The video, recorded in Havana for the band’s latest single, “Trembling Hands,” follows a young Cuban trapeze artist as she prepares for an upcoming performance, capturing all of the struggles, the frustrations and the raw emotion that comes with pursuing a passion. The video relies on the talents of real aerobatic athletes and exposes a part of Cuban culture that isn’t often visible to the public, with the faded streets of Havana as a backdrop.

[via EcoSalon]

The British Museum has great lineup for 2012

British Museum
Travelers to London this year will want to stop by the British Museum. Not only is it one of the top museums in the world, with huge collections from the Classical, Egyptian, Medieval, and pretty much every other period, it also hosts several temporary exhibitions every year. As a regular visitor to London I always make sure to see as many of these exhibitions as I can.

The first is Hajj: Journey to the heart of Islam (January 26–April 13). This show examines the pilgrimage to Mecca that is required of all Muslims. It looks at the major pilgrimage routes and how they’ve changed over time, how the Hajj is practiced today, and the city of Mecca itself. Historic artifacts are displayed next to contemporary artwork.

The Arabian theme will continue with The Horse: Ancient Arabia to the modern world (May 24–September 30). Having ridden Arabian horses, I have to say they’re the noblest animals on the planet and I’ll be sure to make it to this show to learn something of their origins. More than that, the exhibition looks at the horse’s role in society and its influence on Middle Eastern and European history. Items from the museum collection as well as loaned items will be on display, including the four-horse chariot from the Oxus Treasure, 1st–2nd century AD representations of horses from the ancient caravan site of Qaryat al-Fau in Saudi Arabia, and hi-res panoramas of recently discovered rock drawings of horses.

Shakespeare: staging the world (July 19–November 25) is bound to attract many of the Olympic visitors. The exhibition will look at how London was becoming a major world city during Shakespeare’s time. The British Museum has collaborated with the Royal Shakespeare Company in the exhibition’s design in order to accentuate the connections between the objects, Shakespeare’s writing, and performance.

One gallery I’ve always liked is the money gallery with its huge coin and paper currency collection. It’s often overlooked by visitors who only want to see mummies. Not surprising, considering how incredible the museum’s Egyptian galleries are. Now the gallery is being completely refurbished and reopening as the Citi Money Gallery in June 2012. It will look at the story of money from prehistory to the present. The museum says, “themes include the authority behind money, and the uses and abuses of it.” Sounds more relevant than mummies.

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In addition to the major shows, several smaller exhibitions are planned. These include Angels and ducats: Shakespeare’s money and medals (April 19–October 28), Picasso prints: The Vollard Suite (May 3–September 2), Chinese ink painting and calligraphy (May 3–September 2), The Olympic trail (title to be confirmed, June 1-September 9), Renaissance to Goya: prints and drawings made in Spain (September 2012 – January 2013).

The Asahi Shimbun Display, Room 3, just to the right as you come in through the main entrance, hosts exhibitions dedicated to a single object and its place in the culture that created it. From February 2-May 6 there will be a model of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre made of olive wood and mother-of-pearl in 17th-century Bethlehem. It was originally a pilgrim’s souvenir. From June 7-September 9 you’ll have a chance to see a riff on the Discobolus, the famous Roman marble statue of a discus thrower, yet another nod to the London Olympics. Instead of the usual naked athlete, it’s Mao-suited Discobolus by the contemporary Chinese artist Sui Jianguo. Purists can see the real statue in the Great Court nearby.

So if you’re in London, make sure to pop by the British Museum. After that, take an evening stroll through surrounding Bloomsbury and admire the Georgian architecture. It’s one of the nicest neighborhoods in the city.

London 2012 Olympics schedule and ticket prices released

Olympics, olympicsIf you’re thinking of going to the London 2012 Olympics, now is the time to start planning.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games has just released the competition schedule and ticket prices. The race is on for tickets, hotel reservations, and flights. Personally I’m avoiding the whole thing. London’s transport system is chaotic at the best of times, and an influx of hordes of sports fans isn’t going to do it any good. My family and I spend every summer in Oxford but we’re headed elsewhere in 2012. Being only an hour from London, rental prices in Oxford are sure to hit the stratosphere.

While the Olympics will be a royal pain in the ass for the English, it promises to be a memorable event for everyone else. The organizers boast there will be “19 days of sporting competition. . .over 640 sessions, across more than 300 events, 39 disciplines, and 26 sports.” If you love seeing the best athletes in the world competing live, this is the place to be.

For those of you planning to brave London in 2012, tickets go on sale March 15 and are sure to be snapped up quickly. You can register on the site to make purchasing quicker once tickets do go on sale. This is especially important if you’re outside the UK and Europe because you’ll have to apply for tickets via your local National Olympic Committee (NOC) starting March 15. For the Paralympics you need to get tickets from your National Paralympic Committee (NPC) starting September 9. Some NOCs and NPCs may appoint an Authorised Ticket Reseller (ATR) to sell tickets. If you register with the site via the above link, they’ll send you information about how to get tickets from an acronym near you.

And don’t forget to reserve a hotel or flat early, early, early. You might want to consider staying outside of London to avoid the crowds. Oxford, St. Albans, and Hertford are three pleasant towns all about an hour away by rail or bus and all have local attractions worth seeing.