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Read, Watch and Listen

The Musicians' Journal, No. 26 (October 1927)

In 1927 the Musicians’ Union was active on several fronts to support members’ interests. It resisted reductions in pay following the General Strike and fought against harsh conditions of service when, for example, some cinema owners insisted their orchestras play seven days a week. However, to achieve its aims, the Union needed sufficient income to employ officials and organise members; but those very members resisted moves to raise the subscription.

Longing for Sacred Homelands

Hajj is a religious duty but Muslim culture also sustains a longing for Islam’s sacred homelands which are at once absent and present in everyday life. In these paintings, a London-based fine artist personalises the formal views of Makkah and Madinah which typically grace British-Muslim front rooms. At the centre of Makkah’s Great Mosque is the Ka’ba, the House of God and the direction of daily prayers. The green dome of the Madinah Mosque marks the beloved Prophet’s burial place.

© Kamel Baksh, 2015. Creative Commons licence - “CC-BY-NC-ND”

Conservation 1

This image and the next one show the delicate work undertaken by the conservator. While the colours have remained astonishingly brilliant, the paper has deteriorated.  

The Musicians’ Journal, No. 29 (July 1928)

The competition that civilian musicians faced from military bands in public parks and seaside resorts increased in the summer months. A year later, in the summer of 1929, however, this would seem a less menacing challenge than the rush by many exhibitors to install pre-recorded sound in their cinemas.

The UK Hajj Industry

Until the 2000's Hajj-going in the UK was typically organised independently in small, informal groups. However, as part of increased regulation in response to pilgrim numbers, the Saudi authorities made it compulsory to travel with approved travel agents. There are now around 79 such agents in the UK. Of these, El-Sawy Travel, was perhaps the first to organise a formal Hajj ‘package’ during the early 1980s. The Egyptian-born owner is pictured outside his premises near Regent's Park Mosque, North-West London.

© Seán McLoughlin, 2014. Creative Commons licence - “CC-BY”

'Still' by Denise Riley

Riley wrote the poem in the wake of her son’s death but never published it. It plays on the many meanings of the word ‘Still’: 'still' as ‘quiet’, as 'continually', as 'constant', as 'even though', etcetera. Even though the poem deals with death, Riley assured us that the shape of the funerary urn was created quite accidentally by centring the words on the page.

3D bust of Ivan the Terrible, Tsar Ivan IV (Gerasimov, 1955)

Dr. Mikhail Gerasimov pioneered research into facial anthropology and developed the technique known as the anatomical method. His research had a significant influence on current facial depiction practice, and focused on an understanding of facial anatomy and the importance of muscle structure and position for the production of a recognisable likeness. Image used with permission of Elizaveta Veselovskaya, Moscow Institute of Sciences.

The Musicians’ Journal, No. 30 (October 1928)

In cinemas, the Panatrope was a two-turntable gramophone with amplified output which allowed operators to play a pre-recorded soundtrack for silent films. Like the more satisfactory systems that reproduced sound recorded on film (represented here by the American salesman, frame right), it threatened the livelihoods of musicians who accompanied films in cinemas. A related article attacked the technology being introduced in Britain and claimed that "the public cannot live on 'canned' music all the time any more than on canned pork."

Making Preparations

In an online survey of nearly 200 British-Muslims conducted 2011-12, Islamic books were rated as the most important source of information about Hajj. This guide to performing the pilgrimage is especially novel and has proven to be a bestseller. Published in Birmingham by Al-Hidayaah (‘guidance’), an Islamic business which combines a bookstore with a travel agency, Hajj & Umrah made easy can conveniently be worn around the neck. A copy is photographed here at the Salafi Bookstore in Bradford.

© Seán McLoughlin, 2015. Creative Commons licence - “CC-BY”