Category Archives: Westminster Reference Library

Art book of the month, November 2017

The Illustrated London News

I hope that you will all forgive me for being a bit liberal in my usage of the word book here, as while The Illustrated London News is technically a periodical, when you’re faced with 281 volumes of bound copies it’s easy to forget that they aren’t technically a book.

The Illustrated London News first appeared on Saturday 14 May 1842, as the world’s first illustrated weekly news magazine and ceased publication in 2003. It is an incredible resource for anyone looking to get a view for the past with contemporary images from the time mixed in with articles of the day. Anyone looking to get some insight into the topical issues of the day would be hard pressed to go any further than this.

It is is frequently used by academics as for their research and a volume from our collection is currently on display in the Migration Museum as part of their No Turning Back: Seven Migration Moments that Changed Britain  exhibition.

In addition to the bound volumes held at Westminster Reference Library, The Illustrated London News is also available online here for Westminster’s library members.  Not yet a member? You can join online here

Nick
Nicholas Alexander
Collection Services Officer

PS – Art book of the month for October and September 

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Art Book of the Month, October 2017

The Vernon Gallery of British Art Volumes 1-4 London: g. Virtue, 1850  

Buried deep in the stacks of Westminster Reference Library we uncovered the four volume set of the Vernon Gallery of British Art.

This collection lists in delightful detail all of the 152 paintings donated by Robert Vernon on the 22 of December, 1847 to the National Gallery. Each work is shown in full detail with an accompanying description that helps to set the scene as to how the work was viewed at the time.

All of the images are preserved by a thin sheet of grease proof paper that ensures the fidelity is not lost.

The collection donated by Robert Vernon consisted of works by notable artists of his time, such as Turner and Constable. It provided a huge boost to the then newly established National Gallery. While the works have since been split up and some now reside in Tate Britain the value of the collection still remains.

Anyone is welcome to visit the Westminster Reference Library and staff are always happy to retrieve any books from our stacks. If you would like to see this set of books, please do visit us.

Nick
Nicholas Alexander
Collection Services Officer

PS – and if you’re interested to know what was Art Book of the Month last month 

Morningwood by Kit Cox – book launch

As any regular user of Westminster Reference Library will be aware we have an excellent event on the last Thursday of every month, a Salon for the City

Every month the salon focuses on a new area of London, and has two speakers offering their own take on their speciality. Initially only intended on running for four months, the salon has blossomed and is rapidly approaching its 50th session.

The events are sponsored by Hendrick’s Gin whose host, the marvellous Kit Cox is not just an amazing bartender who makes special gin cocktails for every occasion but also an amusing raconteur who delights the salon’s audience with gin based facts at every event.

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As should not be a surprise to anyone, Kit is also an excellent author who frequently goes by the pen name Major Jack Union. For his latest book Morningwood, Kit decided to hold his launch at Westminster Reference Library and it was a wild success. Complete with cosplayers, Kit’s talk was engaging and witty and even revealed the secret behind how he chose his nom-de-plume (believe it or not, the fact that Jack Union is Union Jack is simply a fortunate coincidence!) Kit also spoke about the influences behind the book, from the fashionable streets of 60’s London into the mythology of a world of ancient deities.

Beneath the streets of trendy 60’s London an old and very cold war is about to bubble to the surface: Ancient feuds between creatures, long regarded as myth, threaten to spill back into the world of humans. Is it finally time for the Guardian of the early morning woods to step out of retirement? A ritual killing leads to a roller coaster world of espionage, brutal scooter gangs and mythical worlds as Mulberry Gale ,investigator with a point to prove, decides to call in a favour from one of the greatest protectors of humanity. Can Professor Early Morningwood (yes he’s fully aware) throw off the shackles of his self imposed exile and save not just one but two worlds from the machinations of an old foe? From the sleepy spires of Oxford to the trendy streets of sixties London and out into the wilds of Scotland It’s time to find out if this Old Goat is a myth or a Legend.

 

Nick
Nicholas Alexander
Collection Services Officer

Art Book of the Month, September 2017

 

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The Biography and Catalogue Raisonne of the Paintings of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema by Vern G Swanson
London: Garton & Co 1990

Recently Westminster Reference Library was contacted by Leighton House Museum who were about to hold an exhibition of the works of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. They were contacting us to ask if they could borrow from our Art and Design Collection a copy of the catalogue raisonné of his paintings to ensure the information they were presenting was as correct as possible. Whilst normally books from this collection are  reference only and therefore not available for loan, given the nature of the request we decided to make an exception.

Catalogue raisonnés are descriptive catalogues of works of art with explanations and scholarly comments. But to bring some life to this brief sentence I thought it might be nice to show you why the museum was keen to borrow the work and exactly what you get.

This catalogue raisonné starts off with an authoritative biography of Alma-Tadema before proceeding into the nitty gritty.

 

Helpfully Alma-Tadema had a habit of numbering all of his works which makes the organisation remarkably simple. The catalogue raisonné has varying amounts of detail for each painting ranging from the short…

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To the long…

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But, invariably the text details exactly what you need to know about each piece: the title, the style of work, the size, the provenance, what exhibitions it has been in, if it has been included in texts and of course a detailed description of the work itself.

Nick
Nicholas Alexander
Collection Services Officer

The making of mayamada – journey into manga

We’ve got an amazing event on Saturday 5 August, 1.30pm at Westminster Reference Library : ‘The making of mayamada – journey into manga’.  More info on our website

mayamanda founders, Nigel and Lao have written a guest blog post to tell us more –

The story of mayamada starts with failure, also known as a “learning experience”. We’ve had a few of those along the way…

mayamada founders Nigel and Lao

In the beginning, there was just an idea between a group of friends with a love of Japanese culture. We wanted to make cool t-shirts and sell them to an adoring fan base.

Unfortunately, the cool t-shirts never came, and neither did the fan base!

So once we admitted our plan was working we had a rethink. The group became a duo and me along with co-founder Lao set about working on a real brand to build.

As well as an interest in anime, manga, and cartoons, we also had a passion for storytelling. So after a brainstorming session (or two) we put those things together and came up with a whole universe of characters and stories. A brand was born.

mayamada became a universe; a television network with an all star cast of anthropomorphic characters. We started designing characters and writing manga-style comics to tell the story of the shows on the mayamada network.

mayamada manga

Even with the idea sorted, it still took a while to get our first title released. Two years. In 2013, we were able to self-publish Samurai Chef Volume 1 thanks to a successful Indiegogo crowd funding campaign.

Samurai Chef

Since then we’ve released the complete edition of Samurai Chef along with Hot Lunch: The Outer Circle and Serious Volume 1.

mayamada manga titles

We even managed to create some cool t-shirts featuring our characters. The fan base started to come too. It’s been great to see people respond positively to our stories, characters, and clothing.

mayamada clothing

We’ve been able to take our brand to comic conventions across the country where we get to meet new fans and people who have been supporting us for years now.  The support has allowed us to build the mayamada universe through new characters and stories.

Hyper Japan Summer 2016

But it hasn’t stopped there. We’ve also been able to launch our own social gaming event, GamePad. With the aim of making gaming more inclusive, we work with gaming companies including Ubisoft and Nintendo to put on a fun day of gaming for everyone. We’re glad for that initial failure, we never would be here without it.

mayamada GamePad Highlights

This is still at the beginning of our story though. There are lots more mayamada stories to write and characters to meet. No doubt there’ll be more learning experiences too as we keep building our brand – it’s all part of the journey!

mayamada brand

 

Many thanks to Nigel and Lao for sharing their story with us; don’t forget if you’d like to meet them on Saturday 5 August – book your free place on Eventbrite

Mental Health Awareness Week – Surviving or Thriving?

mhaw17-main-banner_0Read, learn and connect with us during this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week –

Libraries’ positive contribution to the mental well-being of the population is well documented – see the Arts Council’s publication on ‘The health and wellbeing benefits of public libraries.’ 

I say population and not just customers or residents as it has been said that living near a library and, indeed, just walking past a library has a positive effect on one’s emotional and mental well-being.

Of course we in libraries are keen to invite people to come through the doors and experience the well-being benefits first hand. The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is ‘Surviving or Thriving’ which encourages us to look at our physical and mental well-being.

mental-health

Some of our offers are more obviously health focused, our health information displays encourage us to feed our brains with the right food and suggest ways to be more active, as well as giving information on managing and living well with chronic conditions.  Poor physical health can be a drain on our mental and emotional strength and poor mental health can lead to inactivity, poor diet and so the cycle continues.

One way to break cycles of unhelpful thoughts and behaviours is cognitive behavioural therapy and Westminster has a free psychological therapy service, Westminster Talking Therapies.

In order to help people decide whether this service is for them or for support while waiting for a referral, or during, or after therapy, the libraries’ Reading Well Books on Prescription collections are recommended by GPs and health promotion specialists. A new collection put together to support those living with chronic conditions will be launched in July this year.

The Reading Well Books on Prescription initiative is part of our Bibliotherapy offer. Our libraries host read aloud groups in partnership with The Reader Organisation. These facilitator led ‘Share a book’ groups meet every week and give members the opportunity to join in reading aloud from good literature and discuss what has been read over a cup of tea or coffee or just sit back, listen and enjoy the company.

lavenderIt is encouraging to look at how we in libraries contribute to what is called ‘the wider determinants of health’  All the things in our lives that support us, family, work, employment, housing, finances, education, lifelong learning, English classes, coffee mornings, knitting groups, activities for children and teenagers, employment advice, business information points for entrepreneurs old and young, all these available in libraries.

Libraries have always been inspirational and aspirational encouraging us to ask for more learning and knowledge and skills to create meaningful lives for ourselves and our families.

There are also some very good enjoyable fiction books available free to borrow hard copy or online! See our new book displays or log on to the 24/7 library. Did you know that reading for as little as six minutes can improve mental well-being?

See what you can do this Mental Health Awareness week to look after your own mental well-being, eat well, sleep well, go for a walk in one of our gorgeous parks and yes, visit your local library.

Kate Gielgud

Health Information Co-ordinator

 

 

 

 

Art Book of the Month, February 2017

Leaves from a Missionary’s Notebook by Stephen Tennant

Leaves from a Missionary’s Notebook by Stephen Tennant
Hamish Hamilton, 1986
(First published by Secker & Warburg Ltd, 1929)

Stephen Tennant, “the brightest” of “The Bright Young People”, was twenty-three years old when Leaves from a Missionary’s Notebook was first published.  The notebook tells the story of the Rev Felix Littlejohn and his quest to convert the heathens to the light and in the process is exposed to all sorts of outrageous, horrifying and hilarious behaviour by natives, sailors and other characters.

from: Leaves from a Missionary’s Notebook by Stephen Tennant

It is in some ways a book ahead of its time, as the story is told in graphic novel format with drawings by the author who was also an artist as well as a socialite and a quintessential English eccentric.

from: Leaves from a Missionary’s Notebook by Stephen Tennant   from: Leaves from a Missionary’s Notebook by Stephen Tennant

Stephen’s life is as interesting as any book if not more so.  The son of British nobility, as a young man he is supposed to have ‘resembled the youthful Shelley’ and was the inspiration for Cedric in Nancy Mitford’s Love in a Cold Climate. Stephen’s friends ranged from Virginia Woolf to David Hockney and his surrealist poses are a frequent feature in Cecil Beaton’s photographs of the 1920s and 1930s.

Dedication in Leaves from a Missionary’s Notebook by Stephen Tennant

Stephen’s niece was British novelist and editor, the Hon. Emma Tennant who sadly died last month.

[Rossella]

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