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Joe Jones
McDonald’s will be handing out 14 million Roald Dahl books with Happy Meals.
As part of a literacy drive between the fast food chain and the late author’s estate, eight different titles will be included as gifts over the next six weeks.
Books included in the scheme include the likes of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Fantastic Mr Fox, while the ‘Magical Mischief’ title will offer extracts from George’s Marvellous Medicine and Matilda.
Abigail Moss, deputy director of the National Literacy Trust, said the campaign was “reaching out onto the high street."
She added: “Many parents will have enjoyed the wonderful world of Roald Dahl when they were young and now they’ll be able to share these iconic stories with their children.
“The scale of the campaign will reach millions of children, including many who haven’t owned a book before, inspiring them to enjoy reading and improving their life chances.”
McDonald's has given away nearly 23 million books since its Happy Readers programme was established in 2013 – with previous titles including the work of Enid Blyton and Dorling Kindersley’s Amazing World Series.
Tam Fry, Spokesperson for the National Obesity Forum, praised the new scheme for ‘stimulating’ children.
She told The Guardian: “On the assumption that McDonald’s will not be branding books but will distribute them as published, introducing books to the families likely to be McDonald’s patrons can be only a good thing.
“McDonald’s customers will buy burgers regardless and the bonus of a book may stimulate their children. Much better than a cheap plastic toy.”
What do you make of this drive to get children reading Roald Dahl books? What memories do you have from stories like Matilda and The Twits? Visit the Poetry & Art! Online forum and join the conversation!
Joe Jones
Love him or hate him, Banksy certainly knows how to rustle up a crowd – and ruffle feathers.
Over the last three decades, the Bristolian street artist has been causing shockwaves across the art world with his anti-establishment graffiti.
Debate has raged over whether Banksy’s work is indeed art, or mere vandalism – but in recent years authorities have opted for the former, keeping his graffiti up on city walls.
And in the current decade, he has branched out into filmmaking, with “Exit Through the Gift Shop” making its debut at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and even being nominated for an Academy Award.
Banksy’s latest project, the Dismaland exhibition, has been up at Weston-Super-Mare’s Tropicana lido for just over a month to critical acclaim and tens of thousands of visitors.

As a temporary exhibition, however, it will only be up for one more week before being dismantled, but without a shadow of a doubt it has proved a success.
Banksy has requested that people who are attending Dismaland's final night of music this Friday should wear masks so he can go without being photographed.
Calling the event "The Masked Ball" on the official Dismaland website, it is requested people cover part of their faces due to the "huge amount of paparazzi" who will be outside the Tropicana.
The statement says: "Dress code – due to the amount of paparazzi staking out the park in recent weeks Banksy has requested people come masked-up so he can attend the event without being photographed."

And as a testament to how valuable the enigmatic artist’s work has become, a four-ton mural from Jerusalem called “Donkey Documents” will be auctioned next week – and is expected to fetch over half a million US dollars.
Share your views on Banksy on the Poerty & Art! Online forum - join the conversation!
Joe Jones

Can robots ever be creative?

By Joe Jones, in News,

Creativity has long been an established human trait. Whole cultures have been defined by the creative works of people, from the artwork to the architecture of a civilisation.
But what happens when machines appropriate this seemingly human instinct?
The 21st century has seen a myriad of technological advances grace every aspect of society, from communications to manual labour. But surely something that requires cognitive skills would remain untouched? The lines are becoming ever more blurred.
Examples of ever more intricate artistry assisted by robots are appearing in the news by the day. Here are just a few examples from this past month alone:
- In Google's AI labs, a side-experiment undertaken by a couple of its engineers this summer saw them attempt to "see" inside the computer brain to work out how it was learning about images.
In doing so, the engineers discovered that neural networks could actually create their own painting, based just on random-noise pictures, similar to the white noise on old TV sets.
The results have been compared to the art a human might create when they had taken mind-altering drugs such as LSD.
The reason the computers created art that hints at madness or hallucinations could be because Google has mimicked the human visual brain.

- Also, a young Austrian artist by the name of Alex Kiessling has created artworks simultaneously in three cities using robots.
Alex drew the works in Vienna, with his pen strokes recreated live in London and Berlin with the sort of robot arms that are usually used in manufacturing.
- In Oxford, a robot by the name of Paul sketches portraits of people who sit in front of it. Biro in bionic hand, it can take as little as twenty minutes for Paul to produce the works and can even sign his work of art with his very own automaton autograph.
- And in Germany, researchers have designed a deep learning computer algorithm that is able to distil and understand the essence of how a great masterpiece is painted, in terms of style, colours, technique and brush strokes.
When a photograph is fed to the computer, the computer can then turn the photo into an artistic painting using the painter's signature style, be it the work of artists like Van Gogh, Edvard Munch, Picasso or JM Turner.

Though the above examples are still somewhat vague and basic, giving little hint to a future where robots are able to produce intricate creative works on their own, it shows that tasks such as painting and drawing are becoming more and more assisted by technology.
So should we be worrying about what the future has in store?
Joe Jones
It has been a sad weekend for the world of arts and writing as Jackie Collins and Brian Sewell both lost their lives.
Collins, a famous novelist, died of breast cancer at the age of 77, her family said in a statement.

The British-born writer, sister of actress Joan Collins, passed away in Los Angeles, her spokeswoman said.
Her raunchy novels of the rich and famous sold more than 500 million copies in 40 countries.
In a career spanning four decades, all 32 of her novels appeared in the New York Times bestseller list.
Sewell, meanwhile, was the art critic at the London Evening Standard newspaper for more than 30 years, and was known for his outspoken, often controversial views.
His agent, Francine Fletcher, said Sewell, who had cancer, died at his London home on Saturday.
In a statement, the Evening Standard said Sewell was "irreplaceable" and that while his wit was "always rapier sharp" his kindness "knew no limits".

The newspaper described him as a "legend in the world of journalism and the arts" who was "irreplaceable" and thought of "more as family than a friend".
"Simply, Brian was the nation's best art critic, best columnist and the most brilliant and sharpest writer in recent times," the statement said.
Poetry & Art! would like to express their sincere condolences to the families of Collins and Sewell. They will be missed.

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