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London artist’s compelling Corona diary compared to the work of Samuel Pepys goes global

London artist’s compelling Corona diary compared to the work of Samuel Pepys goes global
London artist’s compelling Corona diary compared to the work of Samuel Pepys goes global

A stunningly sketched graphic diary of the UK’s pandemic experience has gone global after taking social media by storm and providing 25,000 meals for people in need.

Vic Lee’s Corona Diary raised £5,000 for the food charity FareShare when it was self-published in the first months of the pandemic last year.

Among hundreds of stories in the unique book, which chronicles a whole 12 months in black and white, Vic mentions Marcus Rashford’s work with FareShare and was inspired to donate himself.

Now, a year on, a second book has gone global thanks to it being picked up by a publisher and a new Artist Edition has also been added.

Vic’s first Artist Edition, which covered the six months from January 2020 to June 2020, was self-funded and self-published. It sold all 2,500 copies within just eight weeks to buyers around the world thanks to word of mouth and social media buzz.

He said: “The original post of the first few pages I shared on LinkedIn especially, sort of blew up – it was viewed 250,000 times, with over 12,000 likes and thousands of comments telling me to publish it as a book.”

Publishers Frances Lincoln quickly saw the diary’s importance and Vic signed a book deal within five weeks of getting in touch.

The 88-page hand-crafted book, packed with evocative images from the first six months of the pandemic, headed worldwide.

From Sir Captain Tom Moore’s legacy, to lockdown hair, Eat Out To Help Out, UK government decisions and Trump, and moments that have quickly been forgotten, Vic’s books have been likened to those of Samuel Pepys, as a modern-day chronicler of a year like no other.

The book has also gone on to win a flurry of awards and been lauded as extra special and rare to cover a complete year in our lifetime.

Vic, of South London, added: “The Corona Diary is an important book to a lot of people. It records a lot of what happened and also personal experiences and thoughts.

“I didn’t realise when I made the first book just how important it was. The people buying it, from hairdressers to designers, builders, mums and dads and students, came from all walks of life. The comments they posted on their platforms made me realise that this was more than just another book that will be bought and left on a shelf. It’s something to cherish, keep and look back on in one, two, or five years’ time.”

Reviews of the Corona Diary have drawn parallels with Pepys’ iconic 17th century works detailing the plague and great fire of London.

Vic said: “It records what has affected everyone. This is not a personal story as such, but an overall, this is what happened to all of us and what we went through together globally.

“It is a book for everyone. It will not be forgotten, I’ve received messages that tell me the book has helped people have a better understanding of what happened, as they blanked out much of the year they missed, and to look back on and smile, laugh and cry.

“The diary isn’t just a book to buy, but a book to own and keep for generations to come. I have had new parents buy these books for their children born in 2020, to keep and have as a memento. For their children that experienced 2020 to look back on.

“A highlight was when lockdown happened globally, it felt like nature made a comeback. Pollution levels dropped beyond expectations, way beyond. At one point oil companies were selling barrels of oil at minus $34! They were actually paying people to take the barrels as they had nowhere to store them and no one was driving anywhere.

“There are parts about the NHS, of doctors and nurses in every country going above and beyond. This was very emotional to illustrate and write about.”

The Frances Lincoln published first edition has sold just under 10,000 copies in its first two months of release.

Vic has just launched the second Artist’s Edition, a timely follow up chronicling a second six months — from June 2020 to January 2021.
Selling 1,000 copies in its first week, this latest edition is also gaining worldwide attention.

Vic added: “The £5,000 FareShare was not planned. I had no income, no work, and no help. All my projects stopped abruptly. I didn’t know where my money would come from. After the final books of the Artist Edition sold. I took a step back and remembered my background, my Mum passed from cancer when I was three, leaving my Dad, who never remarried, to raise two kids, aged three and four.

“We lived on a council estate. I was a shy, skinny ginger kid with Sellotaped National Health glasses who was bullied at school.

“But I always drew and I had a good sense of humour, and that’s what got me through. We had child allowance to help out, no fancy goods and my Dad drove a car older than me!

“I included a piece about Marcus Rashford in the first book, and now the second. An important character for me.

“When the book did so well, I felt like I needed to give back a little. I donated £5,000 of my own money to FareShare. I am now keeping an eye on things and hope I will be able to offer the same if the second artist edition sells out.

“My books are now used in some schools as part of the curriculum in art, in the UK. And many schools and universities use them in research and as inspirational books for art students, both in the UK and overseas.

“To be able to make, self-fund and publish something that inspires children and adults alike is amazing.

“It has been incredible. I wasn’t going to make a second book, but I realised that the situation after June wasn’t getting any better.

“So, I spent the next six months on the second volume. This has only just been released. I also wanted to keep this edition a little special as a signed Artist Edition only.

“Being a published author has taken me by surprise, I haven’t really stopped to think about it to be honest as I am keeping busy on other projects as things are slowly having some semblance to normality again.

“Being compared to Samuel Pepys is great – a complete honour.”

Vic Lee’s second volume, limited and signed, Artist Edition is available through www.coronadiary2020.com . It costs £50 plus postage and packaging.

The first edition, published by Frances Lincoln, is available globally in most book stores and online.

EXPLORE Data Science Academy to Launch its Online Courses in the UK

EXPLORE Data Science Academy
EXPLORE Data Science Academy

Based on successes in its home country, the EXPLORE Data Science Academy (EDSA), South Africa’s world-leading data science training institute, will soon offer its range of online data science and data engineering courses in the UK.

EDSA began training young data scientists in South Africa back in 2017 when its founders, three experienced actuaries working in business, realised that there was a huge and growing disconnect between the demand for data science skills in business and the supply of qualified data scientists.

In its first year-long, full-time course, 100 new data scientists were fully sponsored by corporate companies and successfully graduated. Since then, the EDSA has trained over 1,000 students in data science through its full-time, short and long online courses. Their courses have also been recognised by Amazon Web Services (AWS), which has partnered with EDSA recently.

At the same time, the range of curriculum options has been expanded to reflect the rapidly advancing technological environment.

These include:
● Its flagship learning pathway, Data Science, where students uncover the magic of how data can be used to solve difficult problems in any context.
● Data Engineering: students learn how to store, move, process and manage the powerful data platforms that run large enterprises.
● Data Analytics, gathering and analysing data to deliver business insights.
● Business Intelligence: mastering the art of telling stories from data through beautiful, insightful and value-driving visualisations.

Data from QuantHub indicates there was a global shortage of 250,000 data science professionals in 2020. Some 35% of organisations surveyed said they anticipated having difficulty finding appropriate skillsets for data science roles.

Research also indicates that there is a similarly high demand in the UK for people with data science skills, which is currently costing the UK government more than £2bn a year. Specialists in the field are highly sought after by a wide range of organisations, but supply of these skills falls far short of demand.

EXPLORE is not entirely new to the UK. They have been delivering AI solutions into Europe across a range of clients, the most successful being the work they have done for Britain’s largest water utility Thames Water.

After becoming aware of EDSA’s pioneering work in Cape Town during its prolonged drought, EXPLORE-AI, the consulting arm of EDSA, was invited by Thames Water to deliver the advanced analytics to help it model the supply and demand of its network.

The project has proven to be very successful – proof of which came when EXPLORE-AI’s consultancy agreement was extended to see them as a preferred data science provider as part of Thame’s digital partner framework. In addition, the Thames Leakage Detection app, which EXPLORE-AI’s team helped build, was recently awarded “UK App of the Year” and “Productivity App of the Year” categories in the UK App Awards.

EXPLORE-AI currently has a team of 70 data scientists involved in the Thames Water project helping them build out their Smart Water and Smart Waste platform.

“The Thames Water success story validates EDSA’s decision to move out of the South African context and take its place on the world stage,” Shaun Dippnall, CEO of EDSA says.

“EDSA’s courses are designed to be practical and deal with real-world problems in business. The innovative design of our learning platform and the passion of our scientist facilitators equip EXPLORE learners to do great things, skilfully mentoring them throughout the programme.” he adds.

Potential applicants can find details on how to apply, the courses available, qualifications and aptitudes needed, application deadlines and costs by visiting https://explore-datascience.net/. For more information on the EXPLORE data science programme go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCkwnPur7jA

National Geographic Traveller (UK) June 2021 available on newsstands now

National Geographic Traveller (UK)
National Geographic Traveller (UK)

LONDON (6 May 2021) — The June issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK) focuses on Spain and the highlights of the Iberian interior. Explore the sprawling plains of La Mancha, the soul-stirring alternatives to the Camino de Santiago, and an authentic taste of the capital city, Madrid. Head inland and discover landscapes ranging from saffron and lavender fields to hidden waterfalls, along with former kingdoms and beguiling cities.


Destinations: We explore Chile’s otherworldly Atacama Desert; discover Houston’s rooftop bars and quirky museums; delve into the homegrown produce of Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand; and plan a long weekend in Anglesey, Wales.

Urban stories this issue include Dublin, Hong Kong and Kyoto.

Smart Traveller: New experiences in Nova Scotia; the tastes and flavours of Polish cuisine; the 70-mile Whitby Way in Yorkshire; luxurious stays in Dijon; and a break in Chester.

Author Series: Arifa Akbar on Lahore.

Travel Geeks: Ask the Experts has advice on planning a long-distance cycle tour in the UK, day trips from Berlin, and hands-on reforestation projects. Meanwhile, the infographic celebrates 50 years of Amtrak, and Hot Topic looks at the burgeoning interest in virtual reality travel.

PLUS: Win a £500 voucher for a stay in Norfolk, courtesy of Winterton Cottages. nationalgeographic.co.uk/competitions

For a 26-page digital sample of our June 2021 issue, visit: magazine.natgeotraveller.co.uk/june21

National Geographic Traveller (UK) has a cover price of £4.95, is available via subscription and on newsstands, and is published 10 times a year. Visit nationalgeographic.co.uk/travel for more information.

Current subscription offer: Buy a year’s subscription to both National Geographic Traveller (UK) and National Geographic Traveller Food and receive a complimentary Bill Bryson book natgeotraveller.imbmsubscriptions.com/book21

Website: Competitions, subscriptions, blogs, features and more. nationalgeographic.co.uk/travel
Find us on Facebook: facebook.com/NatGeoTravelUK
Twitter: twitter.com/NatGeoTravelUK
Instagram: instagram.com/NatGeoTravelUK

The National Geographic Traveller (UK) digital edition is available for Apple, Android and Kindle devices: ngtr.uk/NGTdigital

BlockBank Brings AI Advisory to Crypto Industry

BlockBank has over 40,000 app users
BlockBank has over 40,000 app users

LONDON, May 7, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — BlockBank leverages Artificial Intelligence, adding it to the traditional banking and DeFi system making the entire ecosystem more secure, private, and decentralized. The platform will be AI-powered, which means it will monitor and understand social intelligence, risk mitigation, analytics, batched transactions, and smart contracts.

BlockBank aims to expand the user’s knowledge base and positively their decision-making power. The cryptocurrency space, while full of opportunities for significant gains in terms of profit, is without its own drawbacks. Investing in it will mean big risks, considering the volatile nature of its market and the complexity of the industry.  As a user-oriented platform, BlockBank aims to offer the users with the right set of information powered by AI-enabled analytics and risk management practices.

BlockBank is currently working to provide a built-in fiat gateway along with giving access to a non-custodial and cross-chain wallet for the users to hold their cryptocurrency. To name a few services and possibilities that will be offered by BlockBank include, real-time market analysis, robo-advisory, trade execution, price prediction, earning strategies recommendations, and finance tracking.

Smart Tools for the Cryptocurrency Space

BlockBank is on a mission to make the everyday user a smart trader. The application works on the premise that everyday users have lesser knowledge about the nuances of the DeFi platforms and its features, including smart contracts, etc. In addition to this, the lack of customer support and unfair tokenomics also make trading decisions difficult for the simple users.

BlockBank has signed an exclusive partnership with SKAEL to bring in artificial intelligence to the crypto ecosystem. SKAEL has worked with many top companies to bring about hyper-automation. Its goal is to help organisations save time and produce efficient results within a short timeframe. At the moment, Google, Oracle, Asurion and many other significant enterprises utilise the services of SKAEL.

The collaboration between BlockBank and SKAEL intends to bring in a unique Artificial Intelligence model to the blockchain space. BlockBank wants to provide an outstanding AI product capable of solving some problems in the blockchain space.

The company recently launched their record breaking IDO, releasing BBANK token as the native cryptocurrency of the BlockBank platform. Furthermore, depending on the Tier Level, the users can earn additional tier-wise APY.

Little Fish (2020). Release in February. Trailer


Little Fish is a 2020 movie directed by Chad Hartigan starring Olivia Cooke and Jack O’Connell. It follows the story of a couple that prepares to lose all their memories because of a virus. In the meantime, they are analyzing their relationship and their good and bad moments.

Little Fish Plot

A couple fights to hold their relationship together as a memory loss virus spreads and threatens to erase the history of their love and courtship.

Olivia Cooke is knows for the Steven Spielberg movie Ready Player One. Jack O’Connell plays a main role on Jungleland.

We hope you enjoy this trailer.

Release Date

February 5, 2021.


See it on IMDB.

Cast & Crew

Salvador DalÍ’S Surrealist Masterpiece In This Week’S Bonhams Impressionist & Modern Art Sale

Salvador DalÍ’S Surrealist Masterpiece
Salvador DalÍ’S Surrealist Masterpiece

A surrealist masterpiece by Salvador Dalí, Couple aux têtes pleines de nuages (1937), leads Bonhams’ Impressionist & Modern Art Sale in London this week on Thursday 15 OctoberThis is the sale that was to have taken place on March 26, but which was rescheduled due to lockdown. The work, which has never before been offered at auction, comes from the collection of the Italian Modernist composer Giacinto Scelsi. It has an estimate of £7,000,000 – 10,000,000.

Dalí created Couple aux têtes pleines de nuages (1937) during the Spanish Civil War and at the height of his surrealist period (1929-1939). The work depicts Dalí and his wife Gala formed only by the outlines of the frames. Despite being a diptych, the panels feature a desert landscape that appears to merge into a single larger painting. Classic surrealist motifs – scattered rocks, a disfigured tree, indistinct human figures, a girl skipping, a giraffe on fire, and clouds that cut across the heads of the panels – populate the scene. All of these images relate to certain Freudian undercurrents often seen in Dalí’s key surrealist works.

India Phillips, Global Head of Bonhams Impressionist & Modern Art department, commented: “Dalí’s Couple aux têtes pleines de nuages (1937) is a masterpiece from the height of his key surrealist period. It is full of the highly personal imagery that made Dalí perhaps the most exciting member of the Surrealist group during these years of experimentation, revealing his obsession with Freudian psychology as much as his obsession with his great lover and muse Gala. While the now-famous image of the girl skipping was employed by Dalí to symbolize childhood memories, the burning giraffe represents “the masculine cosmic apocalyptic monster” – a timely premonition of war. Dalí painted these monumental panels at a time of intense personal discovery and expression, while the world around him erupted into conflict. Simply put, it is one of the most exciting works by Dalí ever to come to the market.”

Dalí joined the Surrealist movement in Paris in 1929, the same year he met Gala, who at that time was married to Dalí’s friend, the Surrealist poet and founder of the movement Paul Éluard. Dalí and Gala’s 50-year relationship was controversial. Gala was ten years his senior, and many saw her as the force behind the increased commercialization of Dalí’s work after his rejection of Surrealism in 1939. Such was Dalí’s adoration for his partner and muse that he signed many of his most significant works, including Couple aux têtes pleines de nuages, ‘Gala Salvador Dalí’.

The work was part of the collection of the Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi (1905-1988), where it remained for more than half a century. Prior to it becoming part of Scelsi’s collection, it is possible Dalí gave the work to Paul Éluard. Scelsi, in turn, was an associate of the Surrealist circle from his time studying in Paris in the 1920s. Subsequently, he had spent time with Salvador and Gala Dalí in Rome, during the couple’s travels in Italy with Edward James at the end of the 1930s.

The work featured in the exhibition Dalí / Duchamp at The Royal Academy in 2018. A related double portrait of the same title, executed in 1936, is now permanently exhibited in the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam.

Other sale highlights include:

  • Femme allongée, Youki by Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita (1886-1968). Estimate: £500,000-700,000.
  • Ephebus by Ossip Zadkine (1890-1967). Estimate: £500,000-700,000.
  • Le retour des régates by Raoul Dufy (1877-1953). Estimate: £250,000-350,000.

Release February 2021: Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (2021). Movie Trailer


Everybody’s Talking About Jamie Plot

Feature film adaptation of the musical about a teenager from Sheffield, England who wants to be a drag queen.


Todos Hablan de Jamie (2021)
Todos Hablan de Jamie (2021)

Screenplay by Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae.

Release Date

February 26, 2021.


Movie Poster

Todos Hablan de Jamie (2021)
Todos Hablan de Jamie (2021)

Cast & Crew

adult beautiful blue 445109 scaled

Frank Bowling Awarded Knighthood in Queen’s Birthday Honours

Frank Bowling in his South London studio, 2020, photo by Sacha Bowling, courtesy the artist
Frank Bowling in his South London studio, 2020, photo by Sacha Bowling, courtesy the artist

Artist Frank Bowling OBE RA has been given the honour of Knight Bachelor conferred upon him in the Birthday 2020 Honours List by Her Majesty The Queen. The Birthday Honours list recognises the achievements of a wide range of extraordinary people across the United Kingdom.

During his six-decades long career, Bowling’s relentless pursuit of excellence in painting underpins a lifetime of service to British art. At age 86, he still is an active painter with an irrepressible work ethic, working in his studio almost every day.

Sir Frank says:

I’ve set out on a quest to explore the possibilities of paint, and I find myself making something new every time. I have an insatiable determination to experiment with colour, form and process, to create new and original artworks that push the boundaries of the medium, while being intellectually grounded in post-war abstraction. The things that paint can achieve are so vast and diverse that I don’t think I’ll ever be done with it. Trained in the English art school tradition, my identity as a British artist has always been crucial to me and I have viewed London as my home since arriving in 1953 from what was then British Guiana. To be recognised for my contribution to British painting and art history with a knighthood makes me extremely proud. Friends and family have played a role in my studio since the 1960s – as a husband, father, grandfather and recently a great-grandfather, I am honoured to sit at the centre of a modern family to whom I feel much gratitude.”

Ben and Sacha Bowling, the artist’s sons and studio directors say:

“Often described by critics as a late modern master, in many ways, recognition has come late in our father’s career. We are delighted he is getting this distinction now for his contribution to the canon of contemporary and modern art. He has shown dedication and dogged persistence in the face of obstacles throughout his life of painting, including having to deal with stereotypical associations made between his work and origins. It requires exceptional dedication to follow one’s own unique vision for decades, for much of the time with little reward. The whole family is overjoyed at this news. We couldn’t be prouder of all that our father has achieved.”

About Sir Frank Bowling OBE RA
Frank Bowling is one of the leading British painters alive today. Over the past sixty years, his large-scale abstract canvases have explored the nature and possibilities of paint and pursued forms of expression, which are both nuanced and open-ended. In May 2019, a major retrospective of his work, subtitled “The Possibilities of Paint Are Never-Ending”, opened at Tate Britain to outstanding critical acclaim. Born in Bartica, British Guiana, he moved to England in 1953. After doing his National Service in the Royal Air Force, Bowling went on to study art, winning a scholarship to London’s Royal College of Art in 1959. His early paintings embedded layers of autobiography in abstraction, incorporating silkscreen images of his home and family members back in Guyana. It was not until moving to New York in 1966 that he made a decisive turn towards abstraction. The move soon won him two Guggenheim fellowships (1967, 1973), and a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York in 1971. With an increasing focus on material, process, and colour, Bowling developed a very personal palette for his large, light-filled, lyrical colour abstractions. It is during this period that Bowling’s seminal ‘Map Paintings’ – a series of colour fields overlaid with stencilled maps of Australia, South America and Africa – was produced. Known also for his writings on art, particularly in debates around Formalism and ‘Black Art’, he has always vigorously rejected being defined by restrictive labels that sought to pigeonhole him, and in 2005 he became the first Black artist to be elected a Royal Academician.

Frank Bowling, Watermelon Bight, 2020, Acrylic on Canvas, 185.4 x 297.2 cm, courtesy Frank Bowling Studio, currently on display in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.
Frank Bowling, Watermelon Bight, 2020, Acrylic on Canvas, 185.4 x 297.2 cm, courtesy Frank Bowling Studio, currently on display in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.


Triggered (2020). Movie Trailer. Release November


Triggered is a 2020 movie written by David D. Jones and directed by Alastair Orr. Starring Sean Cameron Michael, Liesl Ahlers and Reine Swart

Triggered Plot

Nine friends, all harboring a dark secret, go camping in the woods. After a wild night of partying, they wake up with SUICIDE BOMBS strapped to their chests, all with varying times on their countdown clocks. They decide to work out how to disarm the bombs or find help – until they discover they can ‘take’ one another’s time by killing each other.

Release Date

November 6, 2020.

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Movie Poster

Triggered (2020)
Triggered (2020)

Cast & Crew

Luxor (2020). Release November. Movie Trailer


Luxor (2020). Plot

Hana is seeking mental peace and physical respite after an overwhelming period spent working at a clinic in Ramtha, on the Jordanian-Syrian border, where she specialised in treating victims wounded in the war in Syria. She finds solace in majestic Luxor, Egypt, where she lived in her 20s and dated a handsome archeologist, Sultan, who was also studying there. On this nostalgic solo trip, she lingers through memory-filled hotel lobbies and ancient sites as she begins to grapple with her grief and her emotions from the war—but when she runs into Sultan on a ferry crossing unexpectedly, the chemistry is undeniable.

Release Date

November 6, 2020.


Movie Poster

Luxor (2020)
Luxor (2020)

Cast & Crew

Original title: Luxor
Year: 2019
Running time: 85 min.
Country: Egypt
Director: Zeina Durra
Screenwriter: Zeina Durra
Music: Nascuy Linares
Cinematography: Zelmira Gainza
Cast: Andrea Riseborough, Michael Landes, Karim Saleh, Sherin Reda, Shahira Fahmy, Salima Ikram, Ahmed Talaat, Trude Reed, Indigo Rønlov, Janie Aziz
Producer: Co-production Egypt-United Kingdom-United Arab Emirates; Film-Clinic, Front Row Filmed Entertainment