On 24 October 1975, the women of Iceland refused to show up for work. They refused to cook, clean or look after their children. Basically, they went on strike. And that day, the shops in Iceland ran out of the only convenience food available at the time: sausages.
Call it symbolism, but by going on strike the women of Iceland were calling for men to respect their work and demanding equal pay.
This week Iceland became the first country in the world to make companies prove they are not paying women less than men for the same work. Employers are rushing to comply with the new rules to avoid fines.
Companies and government agencies with more than 25 staff must obtain government certification of their equal pay policies.
On the ‘women’s day off’, as it’s known, 90% of women stopped work and refused to do any household chores
Iceland has long been deemed the best place in the world to be a woman.
For the past nine years, the country has topped the World Economic Forum’s gender equality index; the UK comes in at 15th.
In Iceland men get at least three months’ paternity leave, and 90% of them take it. This gives them time to become comfortable with child-rearing, encouraging them to share the workload with their partners.
Women in Iceland are highly educated, a high percentage hold managerial positions and they don’t give up their careers to have children: they do both.
The Adoration of the Kings – Jan Gossaerts (1510-15)
This colourful Christmas tree decoration of an altarpiece was painted for an abbey near Brussels and is evidently not intended to be ascetic.
The Magi who journeyed from the east to give gifts to the newborn Messiah gave wealthy people in Renaissance Europe reason to hope their riches made them virtuous.
Contrary to the early Christian message that it’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter heaven, Gossaerts gratifies the rich by showing how they can use their treasures to adore Christ.
The superb deep blue of the sky, the reddish ruins in which Christ has been born and the green, pink, blue and gold robes of angels and mortals all add to a chromatic carol of joy and jubilation.•
Martyn Reed is sitting in his office overlooking the harbour in the Norwegian city of Stavanger.
He’s a long way from his Yorkshire roots and his home city of Leeds, but he has never felt more at home in this oil-rich rainy city of some 120,000 souls in the country’s third largest conurbation.
It’s not the likeliest location for someone who is art mad, but for the past 14 years Reed has been involved in, and has run, what is now known as the Nuart festival where the city is opened up to one of the biggest street art and music festivals in the world.
It seems no wall is off limits.
In the past the control tower at the airport has been hit and this year an oil tanker supply boat was painted by Polish artist M-City.
The Resurrection by Piero della Francesca, a fresco judged by Aldous Huxley to be “the best picture in the world,” is receiving a much-needed restoration.
A team from Florence’s conservation institute the Opificio delle Pietre Dure will spend a projected 18 months in the Upper Tiber Valley town of Sansepolcro, Tuscany, restoring the 15th century masterpiece and they will do it in plain view of the public thanks to a custom scaffolding bridge that will leave the painting visible while experts work on it.
Piero della Francesca (1420?-1492) was one of the great artists of the early Italian Renaissance, Piero della Francesca painted religious works that are marked by their simple serenity and clarity.
He was also interested in geometry and mathematics and was known for his contributions in these fields.
Although the date and place of Piero della Francesca’s birth are not definite, it seems likely that he was born in about 1420 in Sansepolcro, Italy.
His father was a well-to-do tanner and shoemaker, and Piero’s varied accomplishments indicate that he received a good education. He probably studied painting with one of several skilled artists of the Sienese school who lived in Sansepolcro.
By 1439 Piero was working with Domenico Veneziano on frescoes for the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova in Florence.
His experience and contacts in Florence, where he would have seen the works of such sculptors, artists, and architects as Donatello, Brunelleschi, Masaccio, and Fra Angelico, had a profound influence on Piero’s style.
Piero was skilled in perspective, and his paintings are also known for the care with which he rendered the landscapes that provide the backgrounds for his figures. Throughout his life he maintained his ties with Sansepolcro, but he traveled widely. (via WebMuseum).
Saint or sinner? The Death of Marat (1754) by Jacques-Louis David. Photograph: Universal History Archive/Getty Images
For the painter Jacques-Louis David, who actively supported and participated in the most radical acts of the French Revolution, the death of one of its most eloquent enthusiasts, Marat, was an unforgivable murder.
In fact, Marat was knee-deep in violence.
He passionately advocated executing aristocrats and moderates to save the Revolution from supposed enemies.
His assassin, Charlotte Corday (above), saw herself as a legitimate avenger.
David’s painting crushes such ambiguities with one of art’s great images of secular martyrdom.
In painting the horror of the crime scene, he turns Marat into a revolutionary saint.