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tree

Banksy Confirms Tree Mural In North London Is His Work 

A mural that appeared overnight on a residential building in the Finsbury Park area of northern London is confirmed to be a work by Banksy. The anonymous street artist confirmed that it was his work on his Instagram this past Monday after onlookers speculated the whole morning about how the artwork got there. 

The mural is located on Hornsey Road in Finsbury Park, and is painted on a wall that sits directly behind a tree when the viewer is looking down Hornsey Road itself, according to the Guardian

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The artwork features a lifesize depiction of a woman holding a pressure washer that makes it seem as though she’s spraying green paint on the side of the building. When you view the tree in front of the mural straight on and centered, the green paint also looks like foliage coming out of the plant. 

Hornsey Road residents and other onlookers continuously gathered on Monday to look at the artwork, expressing their excitement to local news outlets. 

“We’re so proud and delighted that Banksy chose our road and chose Finsbury Park for his work,” said Hornsey Road resident Wanja Sellers to the PA Media news agency. 

Other residents like Lidia Guerra praised the work while also offering a potential meaning behind it, as Banksy is known for his art pieces to have some kind of underlying larger message. 

“The way it’s been done, with the paint spraying down, reminds me of a weeping willow, so there’s perhaps a message about the struggle of nature with the dead tree in front. It’s just great – when we read about it last night, we knew we had to come and see it as soon as possible. We feel so proud to think he chose our street,” Guerra stated

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Resident Chris Beskin said:  “I’m absolutely delighted to see this on our street – I think it’s great and sends a strong message. I’d like to see more of it, to be honest, the more the merrier. I think it’s probably one of his biggest pieces in a while – and the fact he’s done it on the wall means it can’t just be stolen or easily removed.”

Other residents were happy that the mural gave the community the chance to come together and revel in their home’s beauty. 

The cherry tree, which works as a centerpiece for the artwork, is said to be around 40 to 50-years-old, and is unfortunately in declining health. Local reports state that the council’s tree service has been attempting to prolong its lifespan by taking care of the tree as much as possible. 

Creator of the BBC Radio series, ‘The Banksy Show,’ James Peak, spoke on the messaging behind this newest installation from Banksy. 

“The message is clear: Nature’s struggling and it is up to us to help it grow back.” 

“[The scene is] a very busy, urban, built-up environment, with the tree sitting in the gardens of some social housing. The figure of the woman is a classic Banksy-style stencil. The shade of green used to represent the foliage is exactly the same sort of virulent shade of green that Islington uses for its social housing signs,” he described

“So, when you step back, it looks like the tree has burst into life, but in a noticeably fake and synthetic way. And it’s pretty subtle for a massive tree, I’d say. It’s spring now, and this tree should be bursting forth with leaves, but Banksy must have cycled past and thought how miserable it looks,” he said.

hologram

UK Universities Become First To Feature Famous Hologram Lecturers 

Some universities in the UK are beginning to enter a new era of utilizing unique technology to teach its students. The technology in question involves holograms, the same holograms that have been used to bring back retired or dead singers to the stage; like Tupac at the 2012 Coachella music festival. 

Instead of performing hit songs, these particular holograms will be notable historical / cultural figures that align with the specific class their teaching. For example, physics students could get a lecture from Albert Einstein or a masterclass in design from Coco Chanel herself, according to reports from Rachel Hall of The Guardian.

Loughborough University in London  is the first in Europe to explore this new avenue of technology and learning. The university is specifically planning on using holograms to bring sports scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to teach fashion students about the intricacies of immersive shows. Loughborough University is also planning to have the sports scientists teach students in management how to navigate various business endeavors and situations. 

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Professor Vikkie Locke, the director of undergraduate studies at Loughborough’s business school, told the Guardian that the students love the technology, especially since they’ve grown accustomed to having classes on their computers and joining lectures through a screen. 

“[The students prefer] a guest speaker from an industry beaming into a classroom to a 2D person on a wall. [Classes on Zoom made students] feel like they were watching TV, there’s a distance. A holographic image is a lot more engaging and real to them.”

After this initial year of experimentation, the technology is set to be officially introduced into the curriculum in 2025. The holographic technology and units used are from LA-based company Proto, who also has clients like BT and IBM. Proto has also been known to work with popular clothing retailers to make interactive product displays for customers. 

David Nussbaum founded Proto four years ago, and stated that the company could soon be bringing some of the best thinkers from the 20th century back from the dead.

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“Proto has the technology to project an image of Stephen Hawking, or anybody, and make it look like he’s really there. We can hook it up to books, lectures, social media – anything he was attached to, any question, any interaction with him. An AI Stephen Hawking would look like him, sound like him and interact like it was him,” he stated.

“It’s awe-inspiring, it’s jaw-dropping, I’ve been in shock at how amazing the interactions are. AI is part of our life, whether people like it or not. You shouldn’t have to be an eccentric millionaire or a celebrity to have a hologram.”

“Different immersive technologies and AI are the new forms of literacy. Students need to understand what it means to use those, to be in those worlds, to experience them, to interact … and these are all things they’re going to need for their future careers,” said Professor Gary Burnett, who teaches  digital creativity at Loughborough University.

The university’s pro-vice-chancellor, Prof Rachel Thomson, said the “technology could help the university achieve its sustainability strategy by reducing the need to fly in guest speakers and by facilitating international research collaborations, as well as by reducing the amount of material used by students building prototypes in engineering, design and the creative arts.”

tree

Oslo’s Mayor Says London’s Trafalgar Square’s Christmas Tree Must Cut Its Carbon Footprint

Norway and London have a long standing holiday tradition in which Norway sends London a Christmas tree for Trafalgar Square as a way of thanking Britain for its support during World War 2. 

Anne Lindboe, the newly elected mayor of Oslo, Norway’s Capital, has recently stated that she’s looking for new ways to reduce the tree and its transport’s carbon footprint. 

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Every year a tree that’s around 60 feet tall is transported from the woodlands near Oslo to Trafalgar Square by road and sea. A month after Christmas, the tree is then turned to wood chips, which Lindboe claims is hardly environmentally friendly. 

“It’s very important for us to continue the tradition. Now it’s maybe even more important to have these good relationships between cities and between people,” Lindboe said.

“But at the same time, we have to make sure that the carbon footprint is as low as possible. So that is also something we have to take into consideration: how to decrease it as much as possible.”

Since transportation is such a major factor, Lindboe suggested that they could instead give a tree that was grown in Britain, which citizens weren’t a fan of, so she explained that she’s considering how to adjust the transportation of the tree.

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Some Norwegian media outlets have also suggested that they simply end the tradition in general. City council votes on continuing the tradition every few years, and are set to do so again next year, however, Lindboe says there’s no serious talks about discontinuing the gifting of a tree to London. 

“I haven’t heard anyone in the city council saying that we should not continue. And … as the mayor of Oslo, this is really important, so I can promise that I will do everything I can to make sure that this tradition continues,” Lindboe added.

The tree itself also garners criticism every year due to its overall look, with some citizens this year claiming the tree looked “half dead,” according to the Guardian. However, Lindboe says that the criticism doesn’t really impact whether or not the tradition should end, and making fun of its appearance is even part of it.

“It’s part of the tradition isn’t it? That you should criticize the tree. We like to criticize, particularly if there’s something we’re really fond of. That’s really important to us.”

“It’s a natural-looking tree from a natural forest, not one of these cultivated Christmas trees that you sometimes see, which are more ‘perfect’, but maybe not so natural,” the mayor added.

Shakespeare

Development Of Now Open Luxury Residential Tower In London Led To Discovery Of Shakespearean Theater

A new £750 million complex of 412 apartments in a 37-story development named ‘The Stage’ has officially opened in London. The project itself, however, initially made headlines during its development, when archaeologists discovered the remains of a 16th-century Shakespearean theater during excavations.

nyc

NYC Is One Of The Best Cities In The World, According To New Report

Every year, the Resonance Consultancy ranks the best cities in the world by analyzing over 270 cities and publishing a comprehensive list for the public to learn about some of the most famous cities in the world. 

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The full report utilizes user-generated reviews, social media, online activity/popularity, and other statistics to create their rankings. 

According to Time Out Magazine and the report itself,  other “analyzed metrics include a wide range of factors that have historically shown positive correlations with attracting employment, investment and/or visitors to cities.”

The ninth annual report listed London as the best city in the world, followed by Paris and then New York. Tokyo and Singapore marked the fourth and fifth spots on the list. The US is also the only country with two cities in the top 10, with San Francisco being listed as number 7.

Written as “the greatest city in America” in an accompanying essay to the report, the study mentions “New York’s dizzying roster of new shows, hotels and parks” as part and parcel of its perennial appeal, despite the record real estate prices that have defined life in the city in recent years.”

According to Time Out Magazine, “In a nod to 2023 and 2024 in specific, the survey also mentions two key events that render New York the ideal destination at this precise moment in time: the celebrations surrounding the 50th anniversary of the birth of hip hop music, which was founded in the Bronx on August 11, 1973, and the 100-year anniversary of the Museum of the City of New York.”

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The top 10 best cities in the world for 2024 are as follows: 

  1. London, UK
  2. Paris, France
  3. New York City, US
  4. Tokyo, Japan
  5. Sinagpore
  6. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  7. San Francisco, US
  8. Barcelona, Spain
  9. Amsterdam, Netherlands
  10. Seoul, South Korea
runway

Vogue World Will Donate £2 Million To London-Based Art Organizations

Condé Nast has announced that Vogue World will donate £2 million to London-based arts organizations through a newly established fund.

London’s Theater Royal Drury Lane hosted the Vogue World event last Thursday night. Organized by Vogue’s editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, and Bafta/Olivier-winning director Stephen Daldry, the aim of the evening was to celebrate London’s history and heritage as a fashion landmark, and raise money for the UK’s performing arts scene. 

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According to reports from The Guardian, artists such as Stormzy, Annie Lennox, Cush Jumbo, Damian Lewis, Sienna Miller, Kate Moss, and FKA Twigs performed for a crowd of A-list celebrities and fashion/entertainment public figures. 

“Vogue will be donating 100% of net proceeds from ticket sales to arts and cultural organizations in London in the form of grants. In addition to ticket proceeds, Vogue is working with a number of organizations and donors to increase donations to the fund through individual contributions.”

21 organizations will be receiving grants that can be utilized for anything related to their core mission and objectives. Some of the organizations receiving these grants include the Royal Opera House, the Royal Ballet, Southbank Sinfonia, and the Rambert dance company. 

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Reports state that the grants were written and provided to three different categories of organizations, the first being Vogue World’s cultural partners who helped produce the event. The other two categories are small diverse organizations in London and organizations that support freelancers in London’s performing arts. 

The show itself was 37 minutes long and was live streamed around the world, kicking off London’s fashion week. 

Before the event itself, Wintour gave a speech describing Vogue World:

“The arts are under threat in the UK, Vogue World is a timely reminder of how important they are, how vital a part of our lives, and how much they need our support.”

travel

Fall Vacations Increase By 40% As People Search Online For A Getaway

With the summer months coming to a close and the crisp autumn breeze beginning to fill the air, people are still looking for that perfect getaway. 

According to Travel Pulse, a recent study showed that the online searches for travel destinations this fall are higher in comparison to 2021. 

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Travelers from the United States are increasingly setting their sights on international destinations.  Barbados, Ho Chi Minh City, London and Munich among the most popular,  have seen triple-digit increases for fall travel,” stated recent data from Expedia. 

After the recent spikes in flight and travel prices due to a busy travel season throughout the summer, the study also found that the ticket prices for these trips should be at least 45% cheaper during the week of September 26. 

 

“Fall is right around the corner, and while many are looking forward to breaking out their favorite boots and pumpkin bread recipes, autumn also means big travel savings”

 

There also has been a recent trend in travelers looking to visit large U.S. cities as the ultimate travel destination. 

New York City has seen a 75% increase within online searches, Seattle has been up by 55%, Washington D.C. at a 45% increase, San Francisco at 35% and then Boston at a 30% increase. 

The average ticket price (ATP) for some of the biggest cities have also showed the best value of traveling there is in the fall compared to summer. For Seattle, the ATP is down more than 45%, Los Angeles down more than 35% and San Francisco down more than 25%. 

Vacationers still want to enjoy the warm weather before the cold winter starts creeping in over the next few months. Beach destinations have also found an increase in online searches for vacations as well.

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Leading the pack is Barbados which saw an overwhelming 3,360 increase in searches, Orlando jumped up to 60% in interest, Punta Cana increased to 40% and Fort Lauderdale grew up 25%.

Travel companies are also suggesting to those who want to travel internationally to start looking around the week of October 10, when the average ticket should be at least 20% lower than it was throughout the summer months. 

“Many destinations are more affordable than they’ve seen in months, making it the perfect time to have an authentic Oktoberfest experience in Munich or swap out the faux foliage for the real deal in New England,” said Expedia spokesperson Christie Hudson. 

The study also shows that departing your destination midway through the week rather than at the beginning of the week could be another way to help vacationers save some money on their adventures. 

pop culture

UK’s First Major Exhibition Of Korean Culture To Open At London’s V&A Museum

The term “hallyu,” meaning Korean Wave, entered mainstream culture in the 1990s. It refers to the prominence of Korean culture in things like movies, theater, music, and fandoms. Now, the London V&A is gearing up to host its first exhibition of Korean culture in the modern world.

Male Dancer

Remembering Modern Dance Legend Sir Robert Cohan

Sir Robert Cohan was a pioneer of contemporary dance in Britain. The legendary performer is now being remembered online with a multitude of tributes after it was announced that he recently passed away at the age of 95.

Cohan was originally a New Yorker who got his start as a dancer performing with Martha Graham’s dance company. Cohan often would work directly with Graham herself until 1967 when he decided to move to London where he would become the first artistic director of The Place, a new dance venue, as well as the London Contemporary Dance School and the London Contemporary Dance Theater.

Robin Howard was the founder of all those organizations, and once Cohan partnered with him the two were thought to completely change the face of dance in the UK. Audiences would bear witness to original explorations of contemporary movements that seemed to extend beyond the general understanding of classical ballet. 

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Famous choreographers Richard Alston and Siobhan Davies both were products of these organizations, and Cohan’s commitment to touring around the UK is what helped him gain so much popularity and momentum in the dance sphere. Alston recently became the artistic director of The Place himself, and spoke with the media about the legacy that Cohan left for him, and modern dance in general. 

“Cohan spoke at the London Contemporary Dance School graduation last year, and his comforting words to the class of 2020 showed that his ability to inspire and lead will remain infamous.” 

Alston then went on to discuss how specifically Cohan revolutionized his dance productions and the world of dance in general: “He designed a new ‘rig’ of lights which radically changed the way dance looked on the stage. Cohan’s inventions in lighting went hand-in-glove with high standards of production, often with striking three-dimensional sets designed and constructed by Cohan’s long-standing collaborator Norberto Chiesa.”

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Cohan would go on to choreograph productions for the Scottish Ballet, Batsheva Dance Company, and many other notable European dance companies. He continued to make work into the 90’s and in 2019 he was knighted for his services to choreography and dance. 

Composer Daniel Lee Chappell took to Twitter to post a touching tribute for Cohan, remembering him as a “genuinely supportive and generous person who nurtured the talents of so many people throughout his long career. He possessed an incredible vigour, insight and enthusiasm, still choreographing new pieces and sharing his tremendous wealth of knowledge and experience, as though he was still discovering the joy of dance for the first time.” 

Rosie Kay Dance Company also released an official statement in which they praised Cohan’s “huge contribution to the development of dance and to the teaching of contemporary dance technique in the UK”. Phoenix Dance Theater said its former patron was “an inspiring figure whose loss will be felt throughout the dance world.” 

For those who really knew of Cohan, they’re mainly remembering his iconic 2019 interview in which he claimed that one day in his early 20s he was walking around New York with a friend when they decided to sign up for a Martha Graham class, and it was in that class that Cohan “had the epiphany that this was what I would be doing for the rest of my life,” and that he did.

American Flag

President Trump Heads to NATO Summit in London

Donald Trump has many issues to be considering at the moment including the US – China Trade War, his impeachment hearing and of course the presidential campaign, so when the chance came for him to be viewed positively on the world stage Trump should have shone.

Instead he was mocked while in London, United Kingdom, lambasted at home and left the NATO summit early, only to have to face his impeachment.

Like many of us, when the going gets tough we want to escape for a while, however, unlike the majority of people, Trump headed for Air Force One and headed to the U.K. and into the welcoming arms of NATO. However on this occasion, those arms were not so welcoming.

Following a video of what looked like other world leaders mocking him at a gathering at Buckingham Palace, President Trump canceled his final news conference, instead opting to fly back to the White House, leaving many wondering if he is still fit to run America.

And after appearing to be snubbed by a member of the Royal Family, it seems the only thing Trump has to look forward to this Christmas is the possibility of being the third president to be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors – Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were both impeached.

The recent NATO summit in London had been billed as the perfect opportunity to showcase his global leadership skills and potentially boost his appeal for his re-election campaign next year. However, after an unpleasant and awkward meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron as well as a “hot-mic” video which showed other world leaders “mocking” him, Mr. Trump decided to cut short his stay and head home.

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But not before Trump called out Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as being “two-faced.”

The issue seemed to arise when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked why Macron and Trudeau were running late for an event with the Queen. Trudeau then seemed to scornfully reply to not only Johnson but also Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands as well as Princess Anne that “he was late because he takes a 40 minute news conference at the top.” Further along the conversation Trudeau also states “you just watch his team’s jaws drop to the floor.” While it is unclear what the responding comments from the other leaders were, they can be seen smiling at his words. Although Trump was never personally mentioned in the now viral video he tweeted:

“The Fake News Media is doing everything possible to belittle my VERY successful trip to London for NATO. I got along great with the NATO leaders!”

He also claimed the credit for encouraging certain countries to increase their spending on military, adding, “No increase for U.S., only deep respect!”

It is a known fact that Trump has never seen an issue with arguing with other world leaders and has often used it to appeal to his Republican base. Antonia Ferrier worked as an aide to Senator Mitch McConnell – Republican of Kentucky – and commented that:

“The president has never been much bothered by shaking up international conventions, so tussling with foreign leaders, by those standards, isn’t a bad thing from his perspective. For many Americans, having their president stand up to foreign leaders is a sign of strength.”

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Unfortunately it was not the first awkward encounter of Trump’s visit. During a public meeting on the same day both Trump and Macron were discussing Islamic State fighters with Macron, telling Trump “let’s be serious” over some of his comments.

Trump had also complained to reporters that he felt the comments Macron had made criticizing America’s seeming disengagement with NATIO as “very very nasty.”

Mr. Trump has always disliked those he perceived to not show him the respect he feels he deserves so these comments have touched an already prickly nerve.

As Trump’s biographer Gwenda Blair says, “Trump doesn’t just want to be in the club, he wants to be the unquestioned leader and center of attention. It had to be both humiliating and infuriating that the other heads of state who were mocking him were untouchable by tweet or insulting nickname, but no doubt he was already calculating the next round of tariffs he would send their way.”

Yet while there appears to be no escape from Trump’s upcoming impeachment hearings he announced he would not be watching them due to being too busy dealing with affairs of state.

The White House has also denied the opportunity to take part in the hearing, suggesting that the Democrats had “rigged” the entire event. However, this did not stop them sending some aides to monitor the proceedings.

While it is clear to many that the hearing will change nobody’s opinions, the House looks set to vote by the end of the year to impeach along party lines, followed by a trial.
Ferrier comments:

“While I wouldn’t say impeachment is a good thing for the president, it is a highly divisive and partisan issue breaking down on party lines. It has not changed people’s minds on the president.

His approval ratings are remarkably consistent, in particular with Republican voters, and he clearly relishes a fight.”