Revolution: Russian Art 1917 – 1932, Royal Academy of Arts

March 24, 2017

The Russian Revolution which led to the formation of the Soviet Union in 1922 began one hundred years ago.  The effects of the revolution reverberated around the world and still have a significant influence on global politics today.  This momentous period in modern history also began a period of ground breaking art and it is this which is explored in this thoughtfully compiled exhibition.

It focuses on the 15-year period between 1917 and 1932 when Russian art flourished across every medium and includes many forms of painting, photography, sculpture, filmmaking by pioneers such as Eisenstein, and evocative propaganda posters from what was a golden era for graphic design.  There is a full-scale recreation of an apartment designed for communal living, and with everyday objects ranging from ration coupons and textiles to Soviet porcelain.

The exhibition shows how the revolution stimulated the imagination of artists of the time but also shows the harsh realities of its aftermath.  The exhibits are both beautiful and stark and are well worth viewing as an example of how the influence of sudden change can stimulate the imagination and also lead to disillusionment.  It continues at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London until 17 April.

Keith Jahans

Fantasy (1925) by Kuzuma Petrov-Vodkin
Just one of the amazing images on exhibit


Wonders of the world – Part 4

January 25, 2013

Here are just four of the amazing wonders of the ancient world I have visited in the last four years.

The Library at Ephesus

The Library at Ephesus, Turkey

The library was built in 117 A.D as a monumental tomb for Gaius Julius Celsus.  It could hold more than 12,000 scrolls and was the third richest library in ancient times after the Alexandra and Pergamum. The statues in the niches of the columns are the copies of the originals and symbolize wisdom (Sophia), knowledge (Episteme), intelligence (Ennoia) and valor (Arete).

Sphinx and Pyramids

The Sphinx and two of the Pyramids at Giza, Egypt

 The Pyramids were constructed to hide the tombs of the Pharaohs, the ancient rulers of Egypt. The first pyramids were step pyramids to help the pharaoh climb the steps skyward and join the sun god Ra.  Then at about the same time as the Sphinx was carved came the biggest pyramids of all, the pyramids of Pharaohs Khufu and Khafre.  Until about a hundred years ago these pyramids were the tallest structures in the world! No earthquake could destroy them. They were each built of more than 2 million blocks of stone and each weighed about as much as a small elephant.

The Sphinx was carved over 4,500 years ago for the Pharaoh Khafre.  It was carved out of one huge stone and was covered by sand for thousands of years which helped its preservation.  Its body is extremely soft rock and its head is very strong rock but is pockmarked because some people used it for gunshot practice.

Stonehenge 2

Stonehenge, Wiltshire UK

 Stonehenge is probably one of the most recognisable monuments in the world.  The stones were erected some 4000 years ago.  The inner ring of Bluestones came from Preseli Mountains in Wales and many theories have been put forward as to how they were moved.  It has been suggested Stonehenge was used as a giant astronomical observatory but the reason behind its construction of Stonehenge remains a mystery.

Neolithic Temple Gozo

 The Ggantija Neolithic Temple at Gozo

 This well-preserved stone-age temple erected about 3500BC on the island of Gozo off Malta, predating Egypt’s first pyramids by about 800 years and Stonehenge by about 1200 years. Like stone circles in the British Isles it may be concerned with the passage of the seasons as indicated by the position of the Sun.  This temple is named Ggantija because of the huge blocks of limestone (some as high as twenty feet) used to form the walls of the temple.

Wonders of the world – Part 3

December 31, 2012

Looking back on some of the things I have seen and marvelled at I have come to realise that many of them are bridges.  So here are four of the most recent I have photographed.

Clifton Suspension Bridge

 The Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol UK

 I begin with this striking structure from the city of my birth.  I do not know how many times I have photographed it or had my picture taken with it as a back drop but this is the most recent taken in May of this year.  Designed by the famous engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel it spans the Avon Gorge and was completed in 1864 five years after his death.

18th Centuary aquaduct

 The Águas Livres Aqueduct, Lisbon Portugal

 This 18th Century aqueduct is one of Lisbon‘s most memorable landmarks and can be seen clearly from passing aeroplanes.  This photograph taken in March 2010 illustrates a marvellous piece of architecture which played important role in supplying water to the city’s inhabitants.

Monumento ao Cristo Rei from under the Ponte 25 de Abril

 Under the Ponte 25 de Abril showing Monumento ao Cristo Rei, Lisbon Portugal

 This bridge was completed in 1966.  It is a spectacular sight from any direction, with an overall length of 2278m (approx. 1.5 miles), and the longest central span in Europe (1013m/3323ft), longer than San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, which it resembles.  Its foundations also hold the world record by going 80m (262ft) below the riverbed to stand on basalt rock.  This photograph taken the same day as the aqueduct provides a striking contrast and a magnificent view of the statue on the opposite bank.

Olympic Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge, London UK

 What better way to remember 2012 is to see again a photograph of one of the most famous landmarks of London.  It is a beautiful bridge and with the Olympic rings beneath marks a wonderful year in the life of the UK’s capital city.

Wonders of the world – Part 2

December 3, 2012

More wonders of the world I have seen on my travels – again in no particular order.

The Iron Bridge with Border

The iron bridge at Ironbridge, Shropshire, Great Britain

 In the late eighteenth century Abraham Darby devised a way of smelting iron with coke.  The bridge was built in 1779.  It was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.  The world, would never be the same again.

Terracota Army

Terracotta Warriors, China

 A clay army of thousands of life-size terra cotta figures of soldiers and horses discovered in 1974 in Xi’an, Shaanxi province, China after they were buried underground for more than 2200 years.

Modern Shanghai Skyline

Modern Shanghai Skyline

 Modern Shanghai symbolises how China has emerged to dominate the World’s economy.


 Stonehenge, Wiltshire, Great Britain

 Estimated to date from 3100 BC and is made up from Bluestone, Sarsen, Welsh Sandstone.  When I was a small boy we were able to sit, stand and climb on these ancient stones, all that is now strictly forbidden.

Wonders of the world – Part 1

November 26, 2012

Since becoming a full time writer in 2008, I have travelled the world and present some of the wonders visited during that time in no particular order.

The Earth

 This is the most beautiful and wondrous of all the planets in the vastness of space.  If there is another out there capable of supporting life it will never be as wonderful as our very own world.

 The Woking Martian

 This magnificent sculpture can be seen in the centre of my home town.  It fires the imagination about what may exist out in space and also is representative of an outstanding piece of literature.  The author, H. G. Wells, lived in Woking and his nocturnal trips to the nearby common inspired this great story and created a new literary genre.  It shows that you do not have to venture far from home or the imagination to find a wonder.

Great Wall of China

 Contrary to modern mythology this structure can not be seen from space.  But it is a gigantic achievement and is testament to the lengths that humans will go to to protect their land.

 The Taj Mahal

 The most beautiful building I have seen.  It shimmers to the view and touch, and is a powerful symbol of beauty and love.  There may be a more graceful piece of architecture somewhere in the world but I have yet to see it.  I will let you know if I do.

Other inspirational travel stories can be found at

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