Posts Tagged ‘Andy Warhol’

Yes, I have some bananas

Hi all, it’s the guest blogger again today. Enjoy!

 

Just before getting into this week’s topic I thought I’d ask if, after last week’s post, any of you decided to do some three-word daily diary stuff. Here’s mine for the last few days:

 

Thu 31.1.13 Hospital blood test

Fri 1.2.13 Virus check done

Sat 2.2.13 Weekly shop done

Sun 3.2.13 Projector malfunction again

Mon 4.2.13 Projector fault found

Tue 5.2.13 Sun after snow

 

(A note from lazylauramaisey, mine for today is “loving new piano!”)

 

Ok so on to this week’s subject.

 

YES, I HAVE SOME BANANAS

I wonder if you know the derivation of the word BANANA? Etymologies differ and one suggests it is from a West African language spoken in Senegal & the Gambia and introduced by the Spanish & Portuguese who it’s believed first discovered the word; the other suggests an Arabic root from their word banan meaning finger. Both sound feasible; take your pick I suppose.

Banana facts: they are a good source of vitamin B6 (25% of our RDA), vitamin C (about 15% RDA for a non-smoker) & potassium (25% RDA). The fruit releases into the body dopanine and serotonin which are good for the brain. Bananas are picked green and start to ripen straight away. What actually happens to turn them from green to the yellow we’re familiar with when we eat them? After they are picked, the hormones in the fruit convert certain amino acids into ethylene gas. This gas then causes the production of enzymes that change the colour and also the texture and flavour of the banana. The reason they can arrive here still green is because they are carried in a temperature controlled environment with a certain amount of ethylene in it so that the ripening process is slowed down.

 

Check out the label here on the bananas I bought this week at my local supermarket.

 
image

 

I wonder if you ever look at the labels on the food you buy. You may check a sell by date, best before date etc. How many of us look at the ingredients? Certainly those with allergies have no choice but anyone else is probably just rushing round as quickly as possible to get out of the supermarket or wherever the goods are on sale. I was intrigued last week to note the label on my bananas said they were a product of Ecuador; this week, as you can see in my picture, it was Cameroun. Ecuador apparently produces one third of all the bananas grown for export “in the world”. In 2004 there were 130 countries producing bananas; bear in mind the UN has 192 countries and the world has 195/6 depending on who is defining which land areas actually count as countries. That means basically two thirds of all the countries in the world produce bananas.

It got me thinking about the product. Where are the world’s bananas grown? How much? Here is a table showing production levels of the top 10 in the year 2011. However these figures are for both the main types of banana produced: plantains & dessert. Plantains are for cooking; dessert are the sweeter, and for eating raw out of the skin. You can see that Ecuador, supplier of last week’s bananas, is the 5th largest producer; Cameroon is 9th.

 

# 1 India: 29,700,000 metric tonnes

# 2 Uganda: 11,100,000 metric tonnes

# 3 China: 10,700,000 metric tonnes

# 4 Philippines: 9,200,000 metric tonnes

# 5 Ecuador: 8,000,000 metric tonnes

# 6 Brazil: 7,300,000 metric tonnes

# 7 Indonesia: 6,100,000 metric tonnes

# 8 Colombia: 5,100,000 metric tonnes

# 9 Cameroon: 850,000 metric tonnes

# 10 Tanzania: 3,900,000 metric tonnes

 

In terms of exports the order is 1.Ecuador 2.Costa Rica 3.Colombia 4.Philippines 5.Guatemala

However as we go about our weekly shopping do we think about how the supermarkets are able to bring us this fruit at such a cheap price. My bunch of 5 bananas weighed almost spot on 1kg so about 200g each; they cost me £0.79 ($1.25). They’re very good value. But how is this possible?

Think about this – the journey time by sea, on one of the largest shipping lines in the world, is about 28/29 days from the port of Douala (Cameroon) to Felixstowe (UK). Bananas require a temperature-controlled container for transport to keep them fresh (13.5-15⁰C). They then have to have an artificial ripening process, as they’re shipped very green, followed by delivery across the UK to warehouses and stores that need the supplies. There are a lot of links in the chain from producer to consumer.

 

Today’s world production of bananas is controlled by 4 companies nicknamed “The Wild Bunch”: Chiquita, Dole, Del Monte, Noboa

 

On the website freshplaza.com/news there is a headline “UK Supermarket blamed” & “Documentary exposes exploitation of banana workers in Cameroon”. You can read about a Scottish film maker, Jan Nimmo who got access to some of the plantations in Cameroon. She reported on the adverse conditions that employees are having to work in. Perhaps this is why my bananas are cheap. The difficulty is in knowing whether it is the supermarkets that drive down the price they’re willing to pay to their suppliers or whether it is unscrupulous bosses at the supply end who force workers to accept low wages to maximise their own profits; or maybe it’s a bit of both.

Perhaps next time I go I’ll look for the ones with the Fairtrade stickers on. I read that Sainsbury’s switched to getting their bananas from only Fairtrade producers over 5 years ago. The benefits to the local communities where these agreements are in place really do make a difference and in some cases mean that producers no longer have to take risks crossing borders to get better prices for their goods. Fairtrade purchases by the supermarket, in the Windward Islands (Dominica, St Lucia, Saint Vincent & The Grenadines, Grenada), have resulted in local communities being able to buy computers for schools, fund scholarships, sponsor a school bus and bus shelters as well as enabling local farmers to invest back into their own businesses. It is reckoned that about 10 million Fairtrade bananas, from the Windward Islands and South America were consumed at the London Olympics.

 

Anyone fancy some Banana Trivia?

Here we go then:

 

1- Canadians eat approximately 3 billion bananas a year.

2- Bananas do not grow on trees. They grow on the largest grass in the world.

3- 90% of the world’s bananas are NOT grown for export

4. 99% of bananas grown for export are of the Cavendish variety.

5. Four million 40lb boxes of bananas are imported into North America every year.

6. In 1998, the entire banana crop of Honduras was wiped out by Hurricane Mitch.

7. Bananas are the fourth most important staple food crop in the world.

8. Bananas were first imported to the UK in 1878 from the Canary Islands by Fyffe, Hudson & Co

 

What about bananas in songs?

 

If you fancy watching this check it out. It’s the video for the song Juanita Banana. If you don’t think you can make it through the whole 2.5 minutes just go to the point where the lady starts wailing. It’s worth it just for that bit!

 

 

The song tells the story of a Mexican banana farmer’s daughter who has operatic ambitions and with a chorus which is an adaptation of Caro Nome from Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Rigoletto. Just the sort of subject for a song you’d think of writing – right?

 

You’ve got to have a watch of this one as it gives you the deep meaning lyrics. It’s the Banana Boat Song. I’m sure you’ll recognise it as soon as you hear the opening lines:

 

 

You think this is a joke song? Just wait till you see who’s covered it: Shirley Bassey, Harry Belafonte, a group called A Bunch Of Coconuts & Stan Freberg. It’s even been used in the film Beetlejuice.(Check out that version on Youtube if you’re interested.)

Also remember that 1967 album by the Velvet Underground & Nico with this cover:

 image

 

And finally – how about banana art? Check this one out:

 

http://www.jungilpark.com/banana-art.html

 

Then ask yourself – how long will this stuff last once the skin starts to age. It’s clever but it’s not going to last. I guess that’s why he’s got the pictures.

 

And all that from a tiny oval sticker on my bunch of bananas. Food for thought anyway!

 

Nothing to get excited about? Yes there is!

I’m handing over to my regular guest blogger again today… Enjoy!
Well, I suppose it had to happen – an art exhibition about “invisibility”. I couldn’t see the point really but at the moment there is a gallery in London which has an exhibition on called – Invisible: Art about the Unseen 1957 – 2012. (£8 entry fee!)
One of our national newspapers, the Daily Telegraph, reported that the gallery “will gather together 50 ”invisible” works by leading figures such as Andy Warhol, Yves Klein and Yoko Ono for its display of works you cannot actually see.” Now just read those last 7 words again. Yep that’s right you can’t actually see them. It is thought to be the first such exhibition staged at a major institution in the UK. At this point I’m struggling with the concept of “display”. The gallery director says that “….art is not about material objects but about setting our imaginations alight…..” Oh well that’s ok then. As well as empty plinth on which Andy Warhol once stood, Yoko Ono will be contributing a series of typed instructions encouraging visitors “to conjure up an artwork in their minds”. Are you getting the idea now?
Check out the picture below and ask yourself can you believe this? Someone who has paid £8 to look at nothing!


A woman at the gallery looks at Tom Friedman’s ‘Untitled (A Curse)’, 1992
The Daily Telegraph also conducted a survey using the following question:
Can an empty plinth and a blank piece of paper be classed as art? The two possible answers were:
1. Yes – art is about the concept or
2. No – there is nothing there.
The results are surprising – “No” has got 2,714 votes (86.3%) & “Yes” has got 431 (13.7%). Now it’s not surprising that the “No” vote is winning but it is surprising that 431 people thought looking at nothing could be classed as art.
Some of the comments about the gallery & the exhibits are quite interesting:
Dbarry said this: “Tried to pay the entrance fee with invisible money. Needless to say it didn’t work.

Maria Sol said, “Am I studying History of Art for this kind of nonsense?? I’d rather be unemployed, than an advocate for this snobbish “idea” of what art is. JMW Turner, please, COME BACK!!!!”

Ajikan said, “Since it’s all in the mind, there can be no point in going to the trouble of making the trip to the Hayward Gallery and forking out the admission charge to ‘see’ a load of formless ideas. Since there’s nothing to see in the first place, why not just publish the catalogue of exhibits and be done with it? After all, the logical conclusion of all this is an exhibition that doesn’t happen at all and occurs only in the mind.”

Don’t know about you but I can’t disagree with any of those.

But hang on a mo’. It’s given me an idea – what about having my own exhibition? Here are the first three exhibits. On a recent visit to a couple of memorable sites in Liverpool I was able to get the following pics.

See No.1 below. What – nothing on the pavement? Of course there is! All I want you to do is imagine you can see Paul McCartney, stepping on these two old paving slabs and then walking in through the front gate of his home at 20 Forthlin Rd in Liverpool. These are the two actual paving stones he would have walked on to get to his house. (The newer white ones, to the left of the picture, would not have been there when he was there.) I’ve added a view of the front door and the sign in the hedge outside just in case you thought I’d taken a picture of just any old paving stones. Now you’ve got it haven’t you?

1. Paul McCartney – “Coming Home”

Front Door of 20 Forthlin Road

National Trust Sign outside the house

The second site was the school John Lennon attended (1952-57). Nothing on that piece of ground? Of course there is! All I want you to do is imagine you can see John Lennon walking across that piece of ground into the school. (I included the bottom of the gates in the pic so you could see, in the second pic, that they are they actual gates to Quarry Bank School -its name was changed to Calderstones some years ago following a tri-school merger.

2. John Lennon “Going To School”

Front Gates to Quarry Bank School


Now for the third exhibit. I don’t normally allow people to see my private art collection but in the context of today’s blog I think it would be helpful. Here, on the lounge wall, is my picture – Polar Bear in a Snowstorm (by the artist Ian V. Zeeble). It’s unique – the artist told me there are no copies or prints so it may well accumulate value in the years to come! It’s there just to the left of the plant. Can you see it?

3. Polar Bear in a Snowstorm

A friend was visiting a couple of days ago and suggested it really needed framing. (He has a similar picture called: 3 Skiers Buried By An Avalanche by the same artist.) I hunted round and eventually decided I would buy a wood finish picture frame. Here’s the result of the framing:

I’m not sure about you but I feel this does not really add to the aesthetics and in fact may prove a distraction to people as they look at the main picture. Think I’ll probably leave it unframed but I’m definitely getting into this invisible art thing. Wow factor? Off the scale!

So there you have it. Probably a new experience for you but quite exciting eh? At least it should have “set your imaginations alight” as the director of that gallery said. Well it has, hasn’t it?

In the spirit of the blog, I was going to paint my reaction to the exhibition in London but I think Edvard Munch has done a rather better job than I could do. Here’s his effort (sold in May 2012 for $119.2 million!)

Nothing to get excited about? There sure is.