A Christian couple have set their hearts on transforming a crime-ridden community which is one of the most impoverished areas of Birmingham. Nick Hoult and his wife Cristina moved to the Walker's Heath area, which is so poor it ranked both sixth and seventh on the city's most deprived list. Following a five-day series by Mirror Online looking at issues facing Britain's towns last month, Birmingham Live has looked at crime-stricken Walker's Heath. Locals say they are afraid to walk the streets after dark and domestic violence is rife. Nick, who lives in a detached home he has purposely built in the area, said: "If we had our wish we will live and die here." Helping drug addicts get clean, decorating single mothers' homes and sheltering domestic abuse victims are just some of the many ways the husband and wife are fighting the Kings Norton area's bad reputation. People here suffer a depth of poverty almost impossible to imagine, with homes said to be so freezing that … [Read more...] about Inside deprived UK neighbourhood that’s fighting back against crime and poverty
Hell bent steel
Subsidies levied on household energy bills have helped drive a boom in polluting “diesel farms” across the UK to meet periods of peak electricity demand, the Guardian has found. Almost a quarter of Britain’s back-up power under one programme for the National Grid is being provided by tiny fossil fuel power stations – some of which have been built on farmland by entrepreneurs. The mini-power stations are brought into play by grid managers when there is a rapid surge in demand for power, for example when large numbers are watching major sporting events such as the World Cup or Wimbledon finals or during major TV events such as the final of Strictly Come Dancing. In the coming weeks the grid is to offer through auction a new set of subsidies to diesel farms under a scheme designed as insurance against the lights going out. Neither the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the grid nor many of the companies involved are keen to provide much information about … [Read more...] about UK energy bill subsidies driving boom in polluting diesel farms
A woman "hell-bent" on tormenting her neighbour with a giant potted plant has been banned from putting items outside his house.Mary de Jong, 68, was found guilty of ignoring a court order to remove the shrub next to Stephen Johnston's kitchen window.The size of the plant stopped him from opening it, Exeter Crown Court heard.A new restraining order forbids her from placing objects within 1m (3ft 3ins) of his home.The court previously heard the long-running dispute stemmed from a row over access to a shared courtyard in Topsham, Devon.Sentencing, Judge Peter Johnson told her: "If you break this order, the likely outcome would be an immediate custodial sentence.""You repeatedly told the jury it was your land and you could do with it as you wished. You were wrong in that because you were subject to the court order," he added.De Jong, of White Street, also failed to remove CCTV cameras pointed at Mr Johnston's home as part of the original order.She claimed it was no longer pointing at Mr … [Read more...] about Mary De Jong: Giant plant row neighbour gets new restraining order
There are 100 vintage prints by Edward Weston currently on show at the City Art Centre in Edinburgh. A smaller show consisting of just 37 prints made by his son from Weston's original negatives opens in London next month. It seems a good time to look again at the work of a great American photographer who revolutionised the form. Born in 1886 in Chicago, Weston helped to take photography out of the Victorian age, where it had served as a kind of pictorial addendum to painting, and make it modernist in every sense of the word. Whether photographing elemental landscapes, sculptural nudes or everyday objects, Weston's formal brilliance was allied to a democratic approach to his subject matter. He wanted, he said, "to make the commonplace unusual", a statement that has reverberated through photographic practice to the present day. Looking at his work now, though, it strikes me that what he actually did, more often than not, was make the commonplace wondrous and beautiful. In Weston's still … [Read more...] about Edward Weston: the greatest American photographer of his generation?
The president-elect’s favorite term of abuse is “loser” – lobbed more than 200 times from his toxic Twitter account, at victims from Jeb Bush to Rosie O’Donnell. When people like him are winners, “loser” might be an insult worth reclaiming. There’s a photo-collage from 1920, the first Francis Picabia ever made, in which the French artist tears apart his face, sutures it with hastily pasted papers, and brands his chin with the all-caps word RATÉ: a loser, a failure, a man defeated. And yet he flashes a crafty smirk, peeking out from under one of those pasted scraps. A “loser”, claimed Picabia in the years after the first world war, was the finest thing you could be; it meant you had failed to obey the dictates of a society that had lost its collective mind. This week the Museum of Modern Art in New York opens its monster Picabia retrospective, six years in the making – a boisterous, scruffy feat of a show, and one … [Read more...] about Francis Picabia: the art ‘loser’ who ended up winning it all