Monday, 3 August 2015

Swarms from the Jungle. Immigration Guide for new residents to the UK. Life in the United Kingdom test. Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish artists: John Petts,David Allen, Sir John Lavery. Augustus John, Dylan Thomas, William Crozier, Sir Henry Raeburn

The global migration crisis is ongoing, and anyone would think that animals were coming here, judging from David Cameron's terminology 'swarms' - which he used to describe for the many would-be immigrants who are based in the unfortunately named Jungle camp in Calais. They are currently risking their lives to get into the UK. 

If they and other potential citizens applying for UK citizenship or permanent residency eventually manage to pass the increasingly stringent criteria of the British government,  a  45 minute Life in the United Kingdom test costing £50 has to be taken at one of 90 centres around the UK. The test is computer-based and there are 24 multi-choice questions. Eighteen correct answers are needed to pass.

Life in the United Kingdom: A Guide for New Residents, 3rd Edition,  £12.99, is the official handbook needed to pass the test, with a range of topics including:
  • the process of becoming a citizen or permanent resident
  • the values and principles of the UK
  • traditions and culture from around the UK
  • the events and people that have shaped the UK's history
  • the government and the law
  • getting involved in your community
The book is an astonishingly interesting read, with lovely photos, which could easily be adapted for schools. The author however is not named, and thoroughly deserves to be.  

British inventions and discoveries, betting, places of interest, sport, music, famous battles, the American War of Independence, Welsh cakes, places of interest and the first verse of the national anthem are all covered, among the many topics. 

There are two pages under Art, and only thirteen notable British artists are named: Gainsborough, Turner, Constable, three Pre-Raphaelites - Holman Hunt, Rosetti and Sir John Millais -, Henry Moore, Lucian Freud, David Hockney, John Petts, Sir John Lavery and David Allan.

Previous editions were criticised for not having enough references to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland so as a sop perhaps this most recent edition has added Petts, David Allan and Lavery to represent them. Apart from art historians  not many people may have heard of the last three, and I have had to look them up. 

John Petts (1944-91) was born in London, but is considered Welsh, according to Wikipedia. He is best known for his engravings and stained glass.

Stained glass window  by John Petts
16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, 
erected after a racially motivated bombing  of the church in 1963
   killed four African-American girls aged 11-14

Augustus John, 1878 – 31, who was born in Tenby, would have been a far better choice to represent notable Welsh artists. He painted many portraits and is rumoured to have fathered over 100 children.

Dylan Thomas by Augustus John,  1937–1938
National Museum, Cardiff

Sir John Lavery (1856-1941) was a well-known Northern Irish portrait painter who painted his second wife Hazel Martyn, an Irish-American,  more than 400 times. He painted her for the allegorical figure of Ireland on Irish banknotes from 1928 until 1975. They had a tempestuous marriage and Lady Lavery was reportedly unfaithful. The guide for Life in the United Kingdom made a good choice with this artist, and his wife on the banknote is in Irish national costume. 


Hazel in rose and grey by Sir John Lavery, c 1920
Barbican Art Gallery

David Allan (1744-96) was a Scottish painter best known for portraits, and the guide tells would-be citizens that one of his most famous works is called The Origin of Painting.  

The Origin of Painting,1775
(The Maid of Corinth)
by David Allan
Scottish National Gallery


Rather than the Maid of Corinth painting by Petts, which has nothing to do with Scotland, the author of the guide Life in the United Kingdom could have mentioned any number of Scottish landscape artists such as William Crozier, (1893 – 1930), who painted this splendid view of Edinburgh below.


Edinburgh (from Salisbury Crags), 1927, by William Crozier 
National Gallery of Scotland.


The Skating Minister is  allegedly by Sir Henry Raeburn, 1790s
 National Gallery of Scotland.


The Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch is one of Scotland's most famous paintings, but some art historians claim it could be by French artist Henri-Pierre Danloux rather than by the Scottish Sir Henry Raeburn. 




Life in the United KingdomOfficial Practice Questions and Answers, by Michael Mitchell, £7.99,  is a revision guide.  Both books are published by the Stationery Office/TSO on behalf of The Home Office.  This book gives multiple choice sample questions, eg:

Who is the Patron Saint of Scotland?

A) St Andrew
B) St David
C) St George
D) St Patrick

and the amusing Question 23:

Which of the following statements is correct?

A)  Cricket matches can last up to five days.
B)  Cricket matches can last up to two weeks.

More than 150,000 Life in the UK tests were taken nationally last year.