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Greenpeace’s publicity stunt adjacent to the famous Nazca hummingbird geoglyph in Peru
Photo credit Thomas Reinecke/TV News
While Greenpeace does an excellent job highlighting to the world serious environmental issues, the organization seems to have seriously slipped up this time. During the night a group of Greenpeace activists entered the protected Nazca site and unfurled large yellow letters reading –
The Guardian reports today Peru’s vice-minister for culture, Luis Jaime Castillo, as saying, “This has been done without any respect for our laws. It was done in the middle of the night. They went ahead and stepped on our hummingbird, and looking at the pictures we can see there’s very severe damage,” Castillo said. “Nobody can go on these lines without permission – not even the president of Peru!”
We agree, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that in April last year part of the Nazca geoglyphs were torn up by heavy machinery owned by a mining company which operates a limestone quarry in the area (please see our earlier feature Lines of Nazca damaged). The company responsible is reported as saying that they had upgraded their operation a few months earlier to produce construction material and, as their land is privately owned, they are free to operate on it as they wish. We would be interested to hear from Peru’s vice-minister for culture, Luis Jaime Castillo, how he feels about this mining activity and what steps have been taken to halt it.
Meanwhile Greenpeace has apologised for its latest publicity stunt but, “…last week [it] projected a message promoting solar energy on to Huayna Picchu, the mountain that overlooks the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, another protected archaeological site in Peru.” Greenpeace really should know better than to use heritage sites to promote its own agendas – no matter how worthy those agendas may be.
More here with video.
The Westbury Horse (1939) by Eric Ravilious
Image credit DACS/the artist’s estate
The Wiltshire Heritage Museum has announced a Walking Wiltshire’s White Horses: Eight White Horses – 100 Miles event from 22-26 August 2013. Artists Ali Pretty and Richard White will be leading the hundred mile, five day public walk, around Wiltshire’s White Horses.
Walking Wiltshire’s White Horses is the final piece of a three month long arts project that melds walking with art. Walkers will be taken on a fascinating trail of Wiltshire’s ancient monuments, stone circles, long barrows, tumuli and the eight White Horses.
More here.
An autumnal shot of the Westbury White Horse, showing a broad view of the scenery surrounding the site. Visible are some of the hills at the northern fringes of Salisbury Plain
Source Wikimedia Commons. Image credit Jethrothompson
James Fielding, writing in The Express yesterday, reports on plans by Wiltshire County Council for, “…a three-lane bypass that would run within half a mile of the 175ft horse, a 35-acre business park and 550 new homes on Green Belt land.” However –
Residents are now fighting back against the “Swindonisation” of their corner of West Wiltshire.
William Wilson, 45, who owns a 16th-century Grade II listed farmhouse in Hawkeridge, a village less than a mile from the White Horse, said: “This area boasts wonderful scenery and beautiful countryside.
“Yet the stunning views from the White Horse will be spoiled for ever if these plans are approved. Generations of people have climbed the White Horse ridge and marvelled at the view below but in the future all they will look down on will be cars, trucks, warehouse units and a housing estate. This is a peaceful part of the county, it’s not a big town like Swindon.” Mr Wilson, a commercial director for Siemens and a member of the Hawkeridge Action Group, fears the farmhouse, which he shares with his partner Danny McGinn, will be swallowed up by the proposed business park.
Full article here. See also the Hawkeridge Action Group website here.


A monkey geoglyph in the Lines of Nazca complex

Writing in yesterday, Michael Allan McCrae reports that –

A portion of the Nazca Lines, massive ancient geoglyphs in southern Peru, were torn up by heavy machinery, reports El Comercio (Spanish).

The Nazca Lines, which were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, are large figures etched into the desert between 400 and 650 AD. The company that is accused of the damage, which operates a limestone quarry and upgraded their operation a few months ago to produce construction material, says their land is privately owned and they are free to operate on it as they wish. A researcher is pushing back…

Full article here. See also our latest Greenpeace, you really should know better… feature.

Eric Ravilious, The Wilmington Giant, 1939 (V&ADACS)
The Wilmington Giant by Eric Ravilious (1903-42). Painted in 1939 and housed at the Victorian and Albert Museum, London
The Westbury Horse by Eric Ravilious (1939)
Image credit DACS/the artist’s estate
The Wiltshire Heritage Museum (Devizes, England) held a ‘pop-up exhibition’ entitled Eric Ravilious and Wiltshire’s White Horses at the Museum on Saturday, 23 June 2012. Introduction to the exhibition on the Museum’s website explains that –
Eric Ravilious (1903-1942) was one of the leading artists of the 1930’s, who captured the essence of the English landscape in his stunning watercolours. No landscape inspired him more than the chalk downs of southern England. Intrigued by white horses and hill figures, he painted a series of watercolours that were destined to be featured in the children’s ‘Puffin’ series. His ‘dummy’ of the book, lost for decades, has just been purchased by the Museum and is now on display for the first time in a special ‘pop-up’ exhibition.
The book was to be published in the Puffin series, and was to include the iconic watercolours of Westbury White Horse, as well as watercolours of other hill figures, including the Uffington White Horse, Cerne Abbas Giant and Long Man of Wilmington. In January 1941, Ravilious sent a dummy of the book to Noel Carrington, who was editing the Puffin series of children’s books for Penguin. His pencil sketches included the chalk hill figures, as well as ancient monuments and prehistoric earthworks.
The text for the book was to be written by H.J. Massingham, based on his well-known books ‘Downland Man’ and ‘English Downland’, Massingham and Ravilious had collaborated on ‘Writings of Gilbert White of Selbourne’, published in 1938, illustrated with wood engravings by Ravilious.

The Puffin book was never completed. Eric Ravilious was an official War Artist and was reported missing in 1942 over Iceland. He had volunteered to accompany a search and rescue mission, but his plane never returned. The dummy book had been thought to be lost, but was purchased by Wiltshire Heritage Museum at auction in 2012.

David Dawson, Museum Director, said ‘We are thrilled to display this ‘lost’ book for the first time. Ravilious perfectly captures the spirit of English downland landscapes and the romance of Wiltshire’s White Horses.’

Alongside the exhibition, the Museum is mounting a special appeal to raise the funds for the purchase of the book. The book cost almost £6,000, and the Museum has an annual budget for acquisitions of just £300. Donations can be made by post or online through our website at

Plese help the Wiltshire Heritage Museum purchase the Ravilious book!

Details here. See also Richard Moss’ article here and James Russell’s blog here.


February 2023
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