Tag Archives: thatcher

Someone order an 11″ portrait to go?

I got into painting portraits on pizza box lids during the first Covid lockdown.

I’d run out of canvas and, whilst I could have ordered some online, I didn’t fancy it. Like books, I want to browse and physically see and feel what I am buying.

I was pondering this conundrum whilst chewing on a slice of anchovy and black olive pizza when the answer was right there in front of me, staring me in the face – kitchen roll!

My daughter rolled her eyes and tapped the pizza box.

Or, cardboard. Cardboard might be good too.

Anyway, here we are three years down the line and I’m still expanding my pizza box portrait collection, along with my waistline.

The following are a few I’ve done recently. The Frida Kahlo one I’ve done before but in a different colour scheme. The ‘Ore Grave?’ one is from the Orgreave miners’ strike in 1984.

They are done in acrylic, chalk pastel, charcoal and ink with the odd bit of wallpaper stuck on for good measure.

Princess Ariadne of Crete.


Filed under Art, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Illustration, Inspiration, mental health, Uncategorized

The era-defining legacy of Tish Murtha.

Patricia ‘Tish’ Murtha is another photographer I’ve been wanting to write a post about for quite some time. And, like my previous post about Saul Leiter’s early work in New York, Tish Murtha captured the essence of working class Northern England during the late 70s and 80s under Thatcher.


Tish Murtha 14/3/1956 – 13/3/2013. © Ella Murtha, All rights reserved.

Unlike Leiter, Murtha’s work focuses predominantly on the socially deprived. One of the reasons I love her work so much is that I can empathise with a lot of the shots. I can see myself in them as a kid growing up in Batley in the 60s and 70s.


Tish Murtha © Ella Murtha, All rights reserved.

Her images also remind me of the early social documentary work of legends like Bill Brandt and Don McCullin. The sort of work we don’t see enough of. That’s because people don’t like to look at it. Because it tells us the truth about the society in which we live.

Local Boys in Bradford 1972

Don McCullin


Bill Brandt

One of the things a great photographer does is make the viewer ask questions. Like, who are they? What are they doing now? In this case, who started the fire? Did they start it? Why are they unconcerned? What are they looking at?

Tish Murtha doesn’t just capture images of the economically deprived in our society, she captures joy and despair. Fear and determination. Hope and uncertainty. Perhaps most importantly – love and kinship.



Tish Murtha © Ella Murtha, All rights reserved.


Tish Murtha © Ella Murtha, All rights reserved.


Tish Murtha © Ella Murtha, All rights reserved.


Tish Murtha © Ella Murtha, All rights reserved.


Tish Murtha © Ella Murtha, All rights reserved.


Tish Murtha © Ella Murtha, All rights reserved.


Tish Murtha © Ella Murtha, All rights reserved.


Tish Murtha © Ella Murtha, All rights reserved.


Tish Murtha © Ella Murtha, All rights reserved.


Tish Murtha © Ella Murtha, All rights reserved.


Tish Murtha © Ella Murtha, All rights reserved.


Tish Murtha © Ella Murtha, All rights reserved.

Tish Murtha would have been have been 64 next month. Sadly, she died at the tender age of 56 in 2013 of a sudden brain aneurysm.

The legacy of Tish Murtha is carried on by her daughter Ella who has kindly given me permission to publisher her mother’s work, and to whom I owe a debt of gratitude.

Ella posthumously published collections of her mum’s work in the books Youth Unemployment and Elswick Kids which you can find here.

You can also get exhibition prints here.

I could continue this post with Tish Murtha’s work for as many Google pages there are showing it. But that would leave you with nothing to do. To find out more about her era-defining work – and how she saved the lives of four women through organ donation – why not explore her life and work here.

Happy birthday Tish.


Filed under Art, Books, Children, Children's books, Children's stories, community, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Economy, Education, health, History, Ideas, Innovation, Inspiration, love, mental health, Uncategorized, Writing

Americans are revolting

In light of the recent protests against the banking system, I felt compelled to revisit this post I made earlier about the student protests in the UK objecting to increased tuition fees.

My point in the original post, (which is being borne out), is that these protests are going to happen with more and more frequency if governments around the world don’t get their priorities right: People before Money.

If you don’t fancy reading my original piece, scroll down to see two brilliant films.

The first is of the Wall Street Demonstrations where they’ve very nicely edited Obama’s and Clinton’s speeches about freedom of speech in the middle east with their own cops appearing to abuse the very same liberties in New York.

The second film is Danny Glover making a powerful speech in Oakland. Stirring stuff. The Dr Martin Luther King Jr for the 21st century.

Original Post:

I have a computer game called Civilization.

The purpose of the game is to build a society from scratch. The game begins at year zero and time elapses after each turn. So if your army is still using bow and arrows in the 20th century, you’re doing it wrong.

You can’t just go out and destroy your neighbours willy nilly. You have to build things in your cities to finance your army, such as: infrastructure, markets, granaries, farms, hospitals, schools, etc otherwise the ‘people’ get very unhappy.

You have to learn things such as arithmetic to enable navigation. Handy for sailing abroad and destroying your neighbours.

You need to be able to write so you can make maps. Great for routing out your enemies and destroying them.

You have to learn masonry so you can build stuff. And use it against your neighbours to, well, you get the picture.

If you’re not as hell bent on world domination as I am, you can trade with your neighbours. You can send diplomats into their cities. (And spy on them.) God forbid, you can even be friends with them!

Problems occur when you concentrate all your wealth on your army and not enough on the  people. The workers in your cities become unhappy. They want things like theatres, universities, and food! I ask you.

If you don’t accommodate them they revolt.

The cities you have taken centuries to forge begin to burn. Production breaks down. Society breaks down.

Now, to my point.

Yesterday, students demonstrated against the government’s increase in university tuition fees. And quite rightly so. Tripling fees will only result in people still paying off their student loans til they’re 90. Which means they won’t be able to retire until they’re… oh, I get it!

Herr Cameron predictably came out in support of our outnumbered brave police officers who had to withstand the onslaught of angry intellectuals throwing cutting remarks at them.

The cynic I am suspects the numbers of police officers were kept deliberately low so that scenes of them laying into the students with tear gas and batons wouldn’t be witnessed in China where he was recently pontificating about human rights. Or maybe there aren’t enough police on the streets – there certainly won’t be in the near future.

The point is – when people are unhappy they tell you. If you don’t listen to them they become angry. They become desperate. They feel like they have no other choice but to revolt.

Now, contrary to how I play my computer game, I don’t advocate violence, (whether it be by the demos, or by state against state), but I do advocate the people’s right to express their revulsion at being treated unfairly.

Herr Cameron remarked that it was like a scene from the ’80s when Frau Thatcher was in charge. Well, yes, it was. And if you don’t listen to the people, those scenes will happen with more and more frequency.

The people won’t stand for being down trodden. Especially when they see bankers getting richer by the minute.

The people are unhappy, Herr Cameron. Society is unhappy. You need to listen to them before things get out of control.

Right then, I’m off to play Civilization, this revolution won’t suppress itself y’know.

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Filed under community, Politics