Vincent van Gogh never fades away

His name is famous worldwide whether people are interested in art or not, and his influence is still spreading. This is Vincent Van Gogh, a man who dedicated his whole life to art. Get to know him more through his letters.

Listening to the old classic folk song “Starry starry night, paint your palette blue and gray…”, it is easier to think of van Gogh.

Most people simply regard Vincent as a crazy painter creating his works with gorgeous colours all the time.

Now here’s a chance to get much closer to this genius artist.

The exhibition entitled “The Real Van Gogh: The Artist and His Letters” opens at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, running from 23 January to 18 April this year.

The exhibition features about 40 original letters written by van Gogh, mostly to his brother Theo, as well as 60 paintings and drawings reflecting themes in the correspondence.

“What comes after the letters is that he is a very thoughtful, very reflective man. His letters are full of detailed information about how he thought about making his works of art,” said Ann Dumas, the curator of this exhibition.

Nienke Bakker, the organiser from Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the cooperative partner of this exhibition also expressed a similar idea: “we want to show how the artist thought about his own work, what we can learn from his letters about how he created his paintings and drawings and how he saw the role of the artist.”

Looking at Vincent’s letters being shown alongside the paintings, a carefully creative development of his works was displayed including flowing sketches.

“Van Gogh was a very intelligent, determined person who worked methodically and reflected on what he wanted to achieve,” said Nienke in Amsterdam.

“He structures every composition carefully and seriously before he starts, this attitude is the most important inspiration for me,” said Keiko Aida, a young Japanese visitor.

“Now most young artists have over emphasized a free style during the creation process, they’re so casual with it. I don’t think it works,” Keiko continued explaining.

Van Gogh had a great passion for painting. He was really delighted when he started teaching himself to draw as he stated in his letter: “a change has come about in my drawing…I’m no longer so powerless in the face of nature as I used to be.”

Just two days before he shot himself, van Gogh even told his brother about his full attention on his recent works rather than any depression in the letter.

“He’s always tireless when creating new art works, even until his death, this dedication spirit is really admirable, and it’s him who inspires me to paint sunflowers as there’s always a moving life in his works” said Richard Wright, a British visitor.

This is the real van Gogh, who led a brightly flaming life by putting every heartbeat in his works, and continues to bring in people infinite inspirations all the time.


The first anti-terrorism decade for the US

A 23-year-old Nigerian man called Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab intended to detonate a bomb on a flight heading to Detroit, US on Christmas day. Fortunately, it failed.

For the US, the first decade in 21st century is an anti-terrorism decade.

Beginning with “911” in 2001, ending with “Christmas bomb” in 2009, the US devoted much to anti-terrorism during this period. However, does it work?

Saddam Hussein does not have weapons of mass destruction. Al-Qaeda is still free to do whatever they want. What is most disappointing is that more and more people are dying because of the war resulted from America’s anti-terrorism declaration.

War could bring in peace, but there’s a high price to pay for it, such as people were dead, and houses were destroyed.

Is it necessary for the US to start wars under an anti-terrorism declaration?

In other words, is the boundary between justice and evil clear enough for America to lead the war, even despite whether they are fully prepared?

In general, the first anti-terrorism decade is unsuccessful, so where would the anti-terrorism move led by the US head to next decade?


Hot shopping on Boxing day

Today is the annual Boxing day for all the British people after Christmas.

All the notice saying “sales”, and “up to 50%” are almost everywhere.

The main shopping area in London, SOHO, was full of people from all over the country, which made Oxford Street, Regent Street, and Bond Street much more crowded than usual.

Selfridges, which is one of the most important shopping destinations, almost attracted everyone’s attention.

People all rushed into this shopping mall at the time it opened. Soon, it was hard for customers to move their steps freely, even in the same counter.

The products at the sale were quickly snapped up. In the afternoon, some counters were almost empty, such as Vivian Westwood, Marc by Marc Jacobs, and Chloé.

People were waiting in long queues for some big international brands, especially for Gucci.

Till eight o’clock in the evening, one hour before Selfridges’ closing, there were still dozens of people waiting for Gucci in the light rain.

Many customers said that boxing day had the biggest sale of the year, and London had the most plentiful goods, which drove them to the exciting shopping activity, especially for those non-Londoners.

VAT increasing in 2010 is another reason for hot shopping.


New media's effect on consumers

New media technologies have a great effect on consumers.

Firstly, consumers get richer information.

There emerge various products through diverse vehicles twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, which is helpful to widen consumers’ knowledge of various products.

They begin to participate in the searching and interacting actions with advertisers rather than just being told originally, especially with the help of internet.

Consumers could visit websites with comparative product and ask questions, read reviews and communicate with other massive users that is called ‘word-of-mouth’ to get much more information to know the actual facts of the product or service all sidedly.

However, plentiful information also results in daily interruption and difficult selection from the perspective of consumers.

Every time people go on-line, there must be numerous burdensome pop-up advertisements.

The high frequency of junk e-mails and mussy advertisements in mobile phones is quite annoying as well.

In respect of difficult selection, for example, the advertisements of coke from both Pepsi and Coca Cola show to consumers very similar items.

Similar price, similar appearance, similar taste, similar reputation, and even similar advertisement design, which is really hard for consumers to make a choice except for those who have a preference brand.

The second considerable effect on consumers is database.

Now many on-line businesses ask consumers to provide personal information including name, birthday, address, and phone number to build databases and store information for advertisers.

The advertisers can contact with consumers through many ways.

They can send consumers a greeting card or wish lists of desired gifts via e-mails as an efficient marketing strategy, which usually makes consumers feel intimate.

In one word, database can help build closer and deeper relationships with consumers.

However, there raise significant privacy issues at the same time.

Along with the rampancy of computer viruses and hackers, these personal information can possibly be stolen and published in public, which is obviously threatening the privacy of consumers.


New media's effect on advertising industry

New media technologies have a great impact on today’s advertising industry.

First of all, there are multiple advertising platforms resulting from new media.

On one hand, there are more chances for advertisers to spread their advertisements to reach various audiences.

For example, at present, KFC advertisements can be found almost everywhere including TV, newspapers, bill boards, and internet to show its wide impact.

Traditional media such as newspapers and television are either space bound or time bound, while new media like internet and mobile phones span time and space.

Besides, what is another unique promotional strategy to the internet is the participation sites—chat rooms and blogs.

Some are constructed by companies to discuss their products, while some are established by individuals or groups to exchange their comments.

On the other hand, the marketing strategies might be more complex and the effectiveness might be uncertain as a result of so many platform options.

The platforms are growing in number, and the fragmentation of the media audience is also increasing.

It is a big challenge for advertisers to make right marketing strategies which vehicle they should focus on more and how in the new media environment.

Even some targeted audiences receive the advertisements, they might ignore them at once as there are so many fake advertisements on various platforms, especially internet and mobile phones, and they have already been tired of checking their accuracy.

Secondly, brand culture is another important effect on the advertising industry.

New media allow advertisers to communicate ‘with’ consumers rather than the traditional ones of talking ‘to’ them to build strong brand relationships more effectively.

However, the advertiser is faced with a big challenge of catering to diverse cultural groups in a global extent at the same time.

For example, “Kodak film and your family happiness” is a popular advertisement in China, while the American edition is “a picture of one boy holding ponchos in one hand, and the other standing on a sward with the statement: he just killed his last dragon”.

This difference is based on different cultural perceptions of ‘family’ for Chinese while ‘independence’ for Americans.

Therefore, advertisers should well understand distinct cultures to avoid taboos and make suitable advertisements for diverse cultural groups.

Thirdly, it is more convenient and efficient for advertisers in this new media age.

Previously, it always took a long time to illustrate advertising copies.

While in new media age, only with clicks of the right buttons, the copy is illustrated rather quickly.

Now old files can be kept in memory of the computer instead of filing cabinets under databases, which does bring in great convenience and efficiency to advertising industry.

Fourthly, advertisers usually create unnecessary wants and sponsor irrationality to consumers.

The story of advertisements made always involve magic, such as superman, gorgeous women, and extraordinarily effective products.

However, these ‘wonderful’ information are really unnecessary, even a waste sometimes.

For example, one beautiful slim woman shown in the advertisement, a large quantity of women chase for the product she shows to lose weight including many ordinary or even thin women, which probably results in a waste of time and money, and even cause indisposition and illness.


Is studying abroad really beneficial?

It was November in Australia, bright sunshine, beautiful seascape, and verdant rain forest. But none of them brought You Li happiness. On the contrary, this Chinese girl was fretting with the increasing temperature, and got annoyed.

As a student of Meridian International Design School which went bankrupt lately, just two weeks before her graduation, this girl found herself the most unlucky person in the world.

“Australia is a hell for me. I thought it was a heaven. After coming here, I realized life of study abroad was not that easy. Finally, I thought I could proudly go back to China soon as a returned student, and find a job with a decent salary.

“But now my dream is totally broken, I don’t know what to do next. I paid money, and spent time, but I got nothing at last. I couldn't believe it,” she said sadly.

As a matter of fact, not only for You Li, it has been a particularly tough weekend for another 3,000 international students including more than 1,200 Chinese as indicated by Chinese embassy in Australia as well. They all have been strongly affected by the closure of four schools in Australia recently.

Australian Global Campus Management Group declared its bankruptcy on 5 Nov due to some financial problems, which resulted in the closure of its owning schools in both Sydney and Melbourne named Meridian International School, International Design School, International College of Creative Arts and ESMOD Australia.

This incident has aroused strong repercussions in the public in China, whether studying abroad is beneficial to people becomes a controversial topic again in the society.

In recent years in China, there is an increasing number of people who go abroad for studying including UK, US, Canada, Australia, etc., and those people are becoming younger and younger.

According to Report on Chinese studying abroad during last ten years released in October this year, the number is dramatically increasing from 39,000 in 2000 to 179,800 in 2008, and the total number is 1.09 million for last ten years, between 1999 to 2009. So far, there has been over 1.39 million people who have been abroad for studying.

Wenru Dai, a final year undergraduate student in China is now applying to several American universities for her master degree. “I do want to go abroad for studying because I want to experience different cultures myself rather than being taught from the books only as international communication is so important nowadays,

“Besides, I can have the best learning resources in the university with a high reputation in the world, and I can learn to be independent as well,” she said happily, and denied any effects the bankruptcy had on her decision.

Apart from students themselves, more parents think high of studying abroad as well.

One couple said: “education is a life-time investment, those developed countries always have better learning resources, so we decide to send our son to study in UK rather than buying a house, which we can purchase later. Under such a high employment pressure in China at present, you must have some outstanding features.”

They firmly believed that their son would be more competitive with an oversea experience; although they also indicated that they would be very careful at selecting schools to avoid the same tragedy happened in Australia.

Jie Lin, one of the consultants in UKEAS studying abroad agency said: “we will provide our clients with different studying options in terms of their own situation,

“Moreover, we will not only pay attention to their current study, but also to their future occupational planning, so what we will do is to select the most suitable major and school to them based on course structures and career prospects.”

Although more and more students and parents become fairly interested in overseas studying, some experts and professors still remind people of the risk of studying abroad, and give suggestions on their decision-making.

Paul Gladstone, the professor in the University of Nottingham, Ningbo, China indicated that studying abroad should be completely based on a personal will in the first place, neither being forced by others or following the popular trend simply. Otherwise, you would get nothing but a waste of time and money.

“Language is very important for both studying and living in a foreign country. It can help you to understand better what the teacher says in the class, and also make it easier for you to enter into a different culture.

“In addition, you should always have a mental preparation for studying in a foreign country, such as solving any problems by yourself.”


Carnaby Street

Carnaby Street is a pedestrianised shopping street in London, located in the Soho district, near Oxford Street and Regent Street.

It consists of twelve pedestrianised streets with numerous fashion and lifesyle retailers, including a large number of independent fashion boutiques.

Entering in Carnaby Street, you will find it quite different from the rest in the Soho district because of its special street ornamentation.

There is a huge wall painting at the entrance of Carnaby Street summarizing various activities in Soho district. It’s a cobblestone street rather than the normal concrete one.

There are diverse shapes of balloons hanging over the streets including hearts, reindeers, and trees.

There are also some street artists from all over the world showing their different performs. There’s even a young guy from South America playing diabolo, a traditional Chinese performance.

The retailers on each side of the street are all well designed as well. Take Diesel for example, the storefront is made like a big radio.

Kingly Court is another fasinating building with three floors. It is not that prominnet at first sight. But when you go into the building, you will find all the interesting products there.

For instance, there is one bag boutique. The boss goes to China to select jade for decorating the bags.

Walking in Carnaby Street, you will find all art cells in your body are saying “hello” to the walls and shopwindows.