Monday 24 September 2012


This is our 9 or 10 week old kitten, that we fetched from Battersea Dogs Home. My daughter has named her Boe, the other choice being Sunshine! Boe is energetic, curious, a little reckless, and feisty.  When our three year old tabby met Boe, she spat and hissed. The kitten stood her ground, until big Kitty ran away. Boe was born to a stray cat, who gave birth in someone's garden and perhaps that has given her an edge. It was slightly harrowing to see her mother in the enclosure next to her, miaowing as we took her away - her litter of four all gone now, and she's still there, waiting to be neutered.

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home was founded as "The Temporary Home for Lost and Starving Dogs" in 1860 by Mrs Mary Tealby. Mary Tealby had separated from her husband and moved to London in 1860 and decided to open a "canine asylum" after the death of a starving dog she had tried to nurse back to health.  She established the Temporary Home for Lost and Starving Dogs in a stable in an Islington mews. The Times ridiculed the home on the 18 October 1860. "From the sublime to the ridiculous – from the reasonable inspirations of humanity to the fantastic exhibitions of ridiculous sentimentalism – there is but a single step... When we hear of a 'Home for Dogs', we venture to doubt if the originators and supporters of such an institution have not taken leave of their sober senses."

However, Charles Dickens gave support and  published a piece in the magazine All the Year Round in 1862 about the home, calling it an "extraordinary monument of the remarkable affection with which the English people regard the race of dog. It is the kind of institution which a very sensitive person who has suffered acutely from witnessing the misery of a starving animal would wish for, without imagining for a moment that it would ever seriously exist. It does seriously exist, though."

The home moved to Battersea in 1871 and they care for over 9,000 dogs and cats every year. It costs £14 million (Yes 14 million!) a year to run Battersea and their funds come entirely from the public. 

If you want to help them or adopt a dog or cat ring 0207 622 3626

Thursday 20 September 2012

East London Art Tours

If you have a spare morning in London, I would recommend taking your mother/sister/partner/friend for a walk in the East End with East London Art Tours. I went one day last  summer, and it was really uplifting and exciting to visit a part of London, I would never normally find myself in, and also to discover was happening in the artworld, that was a little out of my usual comfort zone. Hymie our tour guide has an arts background, having worked in galleries and art consultancy and also a long stint at the British Council. Me and about fifteen other women were taken in a private mini-bus to the industrial backwater around the Olympic Park. She was a great guide, both knowledgeable and unflappable and immensely organized. We had a packed intinerary including  a visit to the Victoria Miro gallery where we saw 6 new tapestries by Grayson Perry, also a group show in Stepney Green, coffee at the most incredible building space, the White Building in Stepney Wick and much much more.

The next tour is on  October 4th. Hymie says,  Starting at Old Street tube, we'll walk through Hoxton, Shoreditch and down through Spitalfields, visiting a mix of back street exhibitions embracing film, mixed media, installation and painting in venues ranging from artist-led spaces to some very beautiful and elegant galleries.  September has a great line up of new shows in the east end, several of which are already in the art world hit list of 'must-sees'.  These include Runa Islam's short films at White Cube and a survey exhibition of the Artists Placement Group, conceptual art from the 1960 and 70s supported by Tony Benn MP at that time.

I will give a talk about the history of these three distinct and now very fashionable areas and background into the history and gossip of the art scene.  The area is great fun with lots of tucked away trendy little boutiques and cafes.  If you'd like to get to know it and feel like a stroll through the city's alternative art scene, please do join me.  

Date:  Thursday 4 October
Start: Old Street tube station, ends Liverpool Street station.
Time: 10.30 - 1.00ish
Cost: £35 includes walking guide, talks, private visits and coffee & pastries in a lovely little coffee house.

Hymie Dunn
East London Art Tours 

Tel: 07789 035181

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