On Saturday 5th July some 40 members of the Herne Hill and Dulwich Trade Justice Initiative met with our local MP, Rt Hon Tessa Jowell to express their concerns about the way in which current tariff rules and trade negotiations threatened the livelihoods of millions and the development of indigenous agriculture and businesses in the poorest Third World countries.
Exports of, for instance, EU subsidised Italian tomato paste has already put Ghanaian tomato growers out of business as we know from our frequent contacts with the Ghanaian Trade Justice initiative, who are urging us on.
In 2002 the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruled that the special advantageous tariff arrangements enjoyed by the 76 former colonies of European powers, the ‘African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACPs) since the EU was established, were incompatible with WTO rules and had to end by 31 December 2007. They were to be replaced by “European Partnership Agreements” (EPAs) whereby both parties would agree to reduce tariffs on goods entering their country. But the EU and ACP countries do not have the same negotiating muscle or knowledge and yet the ACP countries are now locked in negotiations which will include opening up their services’ markets.
Fearing the loss of their existing export markets, and under threats of reduced aid and other commercial pressures, some 36 ACPs have “initialled” EPAs. But these should be scrutinised by independent experts and fully debated in the UK and European Parliaments so that we know what is being ‘negotiated’ on our behalf. President of the EU, Barroso indeed undertook at the EU-Africa Summit in December 2007 to re-open negotiations on contentious EPA clauses.
With European commercial interests pressing their governments, through EPAs to open up access to services such as water, insurance, banking, telecommunications etc, the UK Government policy is that this should only be allowed if those countries specifically request it. We have as yet to see this negotiated as an EU wide undertaking, binding on all members.
The position of Peter Mandelson, EU Trade Commissioner, is that freeing trade can only benefit developing countries, but surely only if it takes place at a speed which enables less developed economies to adjust. Embryonic agricultural businesses can, as has already happened, be wiped out by sophisticated, and often CAP subsidised, competition. In addition poor countries will have to cut 80% - 90% of their tariff income, meaning less money for key areas such as health, education and infrastructure.
Tessa Jowell listened with sympathy and understanding to the concerns expressed and advised how best to put these to the Secretary of State for Trade and International Development, Douglas Alexander, at a meeting she had agreed to lead on 16 July.
At the meeting the Secretary of State said he was well aware of concerns expressed in the Make Poverty History and Trade Justice campaigns including fears about over-rapid liberalisation. He believed that the UK Government was a leader on these issues. Reciprocity for markets did not mean symmetry – because goods from the South are freely allowed into Northern markets, the reverse need not necessarily be the case. The Government had put £500million into African agricultural production and he reiterated the clear position that inclusion of services in EPAs should only be at the request of the ACPs and not forced upon them. The UK had also initiated the Extractive Industries Agreement to require companies in that sector to demonstrate responsible behaviour in these activities.
The views expressed by the delegation were extremely useful to Ministers negotiating in a European or International context. Concerned colleagues in other countries should speak to their ministers. Negotiations over the next few weeks and months would be crucial for Trade Justice.
Tessa Jowell pressed for a parliamentary debate in the autumn to report on progress and Mr Alexander responded positively, also agreeing to meet the delegation again next year to review the state of play.
Herne Hill and Dulwich Trade Justice Initiatives include representation of some 14 local Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodist/United Reformed and Baptist churches and has been campaigning and publishing newssheets of Trade Justice issues since 2005.
Another issue on which we campaigned is ensuring that supermarkets give suppliers in developing countries a fair deal. The good news is that the UK Competition Commission has recommended the creation of an ombudsman to do just that, but we now have to convince the Government to act.
But while campaigning by letter, e-mail and demonstration is one practical action, choosing to purchase fairly traded goods is something everyone can do. It is encouraging that apparently 70% of people now recognise the Fairtrade Mark, with Fairtrade sales reaching nearly £500million in 2007 and a challenging target of £2billion by 2012.
Locally, supermarkets are stocking ever more Fairtrade goods and a Fairtrade shop is open on weekdays and Saturdays at Christchurch at the top of Barry Road. A number of churches also sell Fairtrade goods.
The benefit to Third World producers selling through Fairtrade is that they not only receive an assured fair price but also a premium which can be used to improve production or to benefit the community, for instance with health or education facilities. They can also call on Traidcraft Exchange, the charitable arm, which advises on technical and marketing matters.
Whilst campaigning on EPAs and supermarkets means being in for the long haul, anyone favouring Trade Justice can “shop Fairtrade” and do their bit for the world’s poorest.
A summer of varied weather has probably been good for our breeding birds. There are good numbers of juvenile Blackbirds and Robins to be seen and families of Goldfinches proving that their recent influx is being sustained. Having mentioned in my last bulletin that I had not seen a Bullfinch in Dulwich for years, I was delighted to hear that a fine male Bullfinch was seen in the Rosendale allotments. Indeed, as a habitat, allotments are prime areas with plentiful food and not many cats which remain the scourge of our young garden birds. I would now be interested to hear if anyone saw Spotted Flycatchers in the summer as they used to breed regularly in Dulwich Woods and appear in gardens with their families, but are now, alas, rarely seen here. Although not spectacular in appearance they have the delightful habit of using a single perch as a base to catch insects.
In the last issue I voiced the hope that Little Grebes (Dabchicks) might nest again in Dulwich Park. The good news is that there were two pairs which both fledged two young. Sadly, we think that one of the young birds may have perished but at the time of writing three birds are still successfully being fed. Dave Clark has photographed one of these nests for this issue. Little Grebes are nationally quite common but normally breed in rural waterways rather than urban sites. Clearly the refurbishment of the lake has provided them with a good food source of small fish, crustaceans and insect larvae. They are a much more a water bird than our common Moorhens and Coots and rarely come on land, diving both to feed and escape from intruders. Indeed, their feet are set so far to the rear of their bodies that they cannot move successfully on land. The nests float on the surface of the water and are usually constructed of water weed. Whenever they leave the nest they can be seen diligently covering their eggs with weed to prevent predation. Readers may have observed that when the young hatch, a parent will carry them on its back while the other parent forages for food. When they get bigger and are able to start diving for food themselves, a parent may give refuge under a wing. They are a welcome addition to Dulwich ornithology and their chattering contact calls a new sound for the park.
One special plea we in the wildlife committee would like to make. It is reported that House Martins nationally are not doing too well; perhaps due to unfavourable conditions in migration or their winter quarters. We in Dulwich have some thriving, if not large colonies and would like to be sure that those of us who have House Martin nests under their eaves do not let painters and decorators destroy them as they will be reused year after year. One of my house painters painted our House Martin’s nest magnolia and I never saw them again.
I shall look forward to any bulletins that readers may have, that could relate to unusual sightings of birds, animals or insects together with photographs, if obtained.
Wildlife Recorder (020 7274 4567)
Saul Steinberg (1914-1999), an American artist whose magic lit up the pages and covers of The New Yorker for six decades, is the subject of Dulwich Picture Gallery’s latest illustrators exhibition. It’s a retrospective which features more than a hundred drawings, collages and sculptural assemblages by the artist whom many regard as not only a comic genius but among the greatest draftsmen of the modern era. This exhibition is the first full scale review of his career.
Born in Romania, he studied architecture in the 1930’s in Milan where he gained early fame as a cartoonist. In America after World War ll, he became a propagandist, illustrator, fabric and card designer, muralist, fashion and advertising artist, stage designer and the tireless creator of image-jammed books. In 1960 he decided to concentrate on art for gallery shows and for The New Yorker. The exhibition covers the whole range of his work from high art to low comedy, from murals to magazines, from caricature to cartography. The exhibition is a close-up of the contradictions of the 20th century. It will make the visitor smile a lot.
The Exhibition will run from 26 November to 15 February 2009.
For her solo exhibition at the South London Gallery, internationally acclaimed Brazilian artist Rivane Neuenschwander will completely transform the gallery space with a site-specific installation. Monumental in scale, yet incorporating minimalist elements including drilled holes, a packet of the residual dust and tiny perforations in every frame of a 16mm film, this major new work encompasses a number of discreet but interrelated components.
Born of the artist’s unique sensitivity to space, Neunenschwander’s installation takes as its starting point the full height of the SLG’s impressive main exhibition hall, the beautiful glass ceiling lantern and the horizontal line which notionally divides the space into two. A visually elaborate but essentially simple wooden structure supports a new floor punctuated by two staircases leading visitors to the level above and an entirely fresh perspective on the upper floor of the gallery.
The temporary floor equally transforms the lower half of the gallery, populating it with supporting struts and obscuring daylight which otherwise would flood the space. This darkened area creates the context for a single projection of a flickering spot of light as the pierced 16mm film threads through the projector. A companion piece on the upper level further contributes to a perpetual dialogue between additive and reductive processes which permeates the show. A line of circular holes circumnavigates the space, dividing it in half again but also highlighting the continuity of the wall’s surfaces in the absence of doors. This is one of the many cycles embedded in an exhibition where every interpretive direction leads to another and ultimately back to its starting point.
In a further, but decidedly not final twist, in one of the multiple narratives with which Neunenschwander presents us, a small parcel conceals its contents - the dust created by the drilling of the holes on the upper level – while the post marks reveal its journey, from the South London Gallery and back to the South London Gallery again.
Rivane Neunenschwander lives and works in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. She has exhibited extensively internationally including the 55th Carnegie last May and at the New Museum, New York in spring 2009.
Exhibition open 3 October – 23 November Tuesday-Sunday 12-6pm, closed Mondays
The South London Gallery shows the work of mid-career British artists, and emerging and established international artists in an annual programme of contemporary art exhibitions, live art and off-site projects complemented by workshops, events, artists’ talks and outreach projects. The SLG became an independent public gallery in 2003.
Self-revealing artworks by forty people in the public eye 9 September-14 December
The idea for this exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery, curated by the Museum of Illustration, is taken from a Victorian game of depicting yourself with images of your favourite things; like a self-portrait. Artworks by Quentin Blake, Mary Fedden, Brian Eno, Glen Baxter, Mary McCartney, Eric Clapton, Posy Simmonds, Andrew Marr, David Gentleman, Philip Pullman and others will give an insight into how the contributors see themselves and will celebrate the art of illustration.
Contributors have been asked to illustrate eight favourite things from a list of twelve – their favourite animal, book, clothes, food, pastime, place possession, music, shoes, weather, and their pet aversion. They have been encouraged to use whatever medium they most enjoy. The artists’ names will not appear on the artwork to allow visitors the fun of trying to guess their identity.
This year the Autumn Art Exhibition of the Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery will be hung in the gallery itself, giving local artists a unique chance to show their work alongside Rubens, Rembrandt, Poussin and Reynolds.
The show will run from 25 October to 9 November. Work must be submitted for selection by a panel of judges headed by Xavier Saloman, Curator of the Gallery on 18 or 19 October. If you are not a Friend of Dulwich Picture Gallery, it is possible to join on those days. Work must be submitted in flat form and there is an entrance fee of £10 (£5 for under 18) per work. All work must be for sale at a price indicated by the artist, and the Friends will take a 30% commission on all sales.
Seeing a kingfisher flash along a waterway, like an iridescent turquoise-and-orange arrow, is one of the joys of a walk in the countryside - if you’re lucky. This jewel-bright little fish-eater is very vulnerable to human disturbance, harsh winters, pollution, habitat degradation and insensitive management of water course and there has been a steady decline in it numbers in the UK since the 1970s. Fishermen no longer persecute kingfishers, or anglers kill them to use their feathers as lures. But in many areas, spotting one has become a bit of a wildlife-watcher’s one-upmanship "Brownie badge". With beginner’s luck, I saw one skimming along the surface of the Wandle while walking the dog during a lunch break while I was working as a wildlife hospital volunteer at London Wildcare in Beddington Park. My companion was furious - he’d been watching out for the fabled local kingfishers every time he visited the park, for the previous five years, entirely without success.But you may be surprised to learn that you don’t have to even leave “The Borough” to catch sight of a kingfisher. Itinerant males have been seen visiting a nature reserve in the north of Southwark (Globe Pond, Russia Dock Woodland) and, even closer to home, they have been spotted hunting in Peckham and Dulwich Parks in recent years.
Kingfishers are small birds (around the size of a house sparrow) and the lives of most are short - usually less than a year. Only about a quarter of youngsters make it to maturity and even adult birds only have a 25 per cent chance of surviving through to the next breeding season (parent birds shoosh them away from the territory very quickly and it‘s feared that many may not have had sufficient time to learn to fish for themselves before they leave). But if they do pick up survival skills in time, they go on to be very prolific breeders. They can produce two or three broods of chicks in a season, with up to six or seven eggs in a clutch. Obviously, parent birds need to find a lot of aquatic insects, crustaceans, invertebrates and small fish, like sticklebacks, to fuel so many hungry beaks - but first, they have to find somewhere in which they can safely lay their eggs.
Male and female kingfishers form pair-bonds from about February. To date, visiting birds have been seen checking out possible nesting sites locally, but they haven‘t yet been able to stay on. Although they can live near a variety of water bodies (rivers, slow-flowing streams, canals, lakes and occasionally garden ponds) which contain enough aquatic live-foods for them, they require a very specific nest-building site. In the wild, kingfishers excavate a burrow (some 60 to 90 cms long) - with a slight dip at the end to stop eggs rolling back out - typically dug into the soft sandy soil of an undisturbed rive r bank. The tunnel must be clear of stones inside and of vegetation outside, narrow enough to foil bird and mammal predators and positioned in such a way that hot sunlight won’t turn it into a roasting oven for the chicks within. Kingfishers feed their young on the fish and other prey they have caught (first beating it to death) before cramming it down the gullet of each youngster in turn. Once a nestling has fed, it turns away and moves to the back of the nest burrow, allowing the next sibling in line to take their place. But in a home that’s barely shoulder-width, queuing is clearly the only answer at mealtimes!
Dulwich has long been a magnet for human families with young children and now it may also prove equally attractive to kingfisher pairs seeking a home. The Dulwich Society, supported by The Friends of Dulwich Park, have successfully bid for a £5,000 grant from Southwark under the Dulwich Community Council’s Cleaner, Greener, Safer programme for 2008/9 and the money is being used to build a specialised artificial sandbank nesting site for kingfishers alongside Dulwich Park lake.
An on-site meeting at the end of July was held in order to choose the ideal spot for the bank, which will be constructed along the lines of ones so successfully used by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at their national centres; they have eight, including their most famous one at Slimbridge, founded by the late, world-famous naturalist Sir Peter Scott.
It is hoped that it will give Southwark’s kingfishers an invaluable new habitat which will help their conservation (they are amber listed as fairly rare at present but with increasing housing and transport development pressures, and increasing usage of waterways for leisure activities, there is no room for complacency). It will also give a lot of people, of all ages, a great deal of pleasure when they visit Dulwich Park and catch a magical glimpse of one of Britain’s most brightly coloured and interesting birds.
Chair, Dulwich Society Wildlife Committee
Reviewed by Patrick Darby
Not counting a slim booklet by A. W. P. Gayford published in 1950, there have been only two published histories of Dulwich College. The first, by a College (and Estates) Governor, William Young, was a massive two-volume work published in 1889, when the College had barely begun its rise to become one of the country’s great Public Schools, hence Young’s major concern being the College’s progress (or lack of it) as an educational institution in the 238 years before its reformation in 1857. The second, Sheila Hodges’ ‘God’s Gift’ of 1981, was highly readable but perhaps lacking in substance. Now we have Dr Jan Piggott’s book, which not only brings the story up to date, but does so with the elegant prose-style one would expect from a former Head of English at the school, and can boast an astonishing depth of scholarship and attention to detail.
Dr Piggott, until 2006 also Keeper of the Archives at the College, begins with a description of the early life and career of Edward Alleyn leading up to his acquisition of the manor of Dulwich and his endowment of that and other London properties on his ‘Hospitall’ for the poor, both young and old, in the centre of the Village. Alleyn’s wish that the former might, in the words of the Founder’s Prayer, be “brought up to Godliness and good learning”, was sadly frustrated by his indolent successors during the remainder of the 17th and 18th centuries (the latter covered in a chapter contributed by Allan Ronald), so that by the 1840s Alleyn’s College of God’s Gift at Dulwich had become (in the words of a journalist writing in 1873, cited by Dr Piggott) “a mere nest of sinecurists, in close connection with a joyless almshouse and a feeble and ineffective charity school”. Local, and indeed national, dissatisfaction with this Trollopian regime led in 1857 to the dissolution of the ‘old order’, and its replacement, under Dr (later Canon) A. J. Carver as Master, by an ‘Upper School’ since known as Dulwich College, and a ‘Lower School’ which soon became Alleyn’s School, with the almshouses henceforth managed separately. In 1870 the College moved to its present magnificent - and expensive - premises designed by Charles Barry (another of the author’s heroes, and one on whose work he is a particular authority) on Dulwich Common, the building of which was largely funded by various sales of land to railway companies, and the increase in rental income from incoming tenants that was consequent on the coming of the railways.
Under the Mastership (from 1885 to 1914) of A. H. Gilkes, for whose character and achievements Dr Piggott clearly has great and well-deserved admiration, the College grew in numbers and prestige, and with alumni such as P. G. Wodehouse, Ernest Shackleton, G. E. Moore and Raymond Chandler, enjoyed a ‘Golden Age’, as described in fascinating detail by Dr Piggott. Near bankruptcy during World War II was averted by the ingenuity and financial prudence of the then Master, Christopher Gilkes (son of A. H.), and his later ‘Dulwich Experiment’ allowed boys from less privileged backgrounds to enjoy the benefits of a Dulwich education, funded by their local authority. It became the basis for the national Assisted Places Scheme, and although that ceased to operate in 1997 much of Dulwich College’s enduring success can, as Dr Piggott shows, be attributed to it.
Finally, there are chapters on the Dulwich College International franchise operating in the Far East (contributed by the present Master, Graham Able, with assistance from Dr Colin Niven), and on ‘Games & Sports’ at the College, in many of which Old Alleynians have excelled at national and international level (contributed by former Deputy Master, Terry Walsh).
Beautifully produced, with some stunning photographs (both from the College archives and specially commissioned from John Hammond) and other apposite illustrations, and an appendix of copious Notes and sources, ‘Dulwich College - A History 1616-2008’ should be required reading for anyone directly or indirectly associated with Dulwich College - and that would include every member of The Dulwich Society.