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Desperate Jobseeker Sets Fire to Himself Outside Jobcentre Office

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A 48-year-old, unemployed man set fire to himself outside an unemployment office in Birmingham, England, in an alleged row over his benefit payments.

Eyewitnesses saw the man tie himself to railings outside the Jobcentre Plus in Harborne Lane, Selly Oak, before dousing himself in flammable liquid and setting himself alight. The incident happened at 9.20am local time.

Police rushed to the man’s aid, and managed to extinguish the flames. It is believed the man suffered sever burns to his lower legs.

The Birmingham Mail reports:

One eyewitness, who did not want to be named, said: “The guy came into the Jobcentre with petrol and made threats, so they evacuated the whole building. I think it was something to do with a payment he had not received.

“He tied himself to the railings and tore open the bottom of his trousers. You could smell the fumes from the liquid he used, but the police arrived by the time he had set himself alight and they managed to put him out quite quickly.

“He would have to have been very desperate to have done something like that.

“It’s shocking that somebody could have been driven to those depths.”

A spokeswoman for West Midlands Police said: “Officers were called at around 9.18am to reports that a man had tied himself to railings and was threatening to set himself on fire.

“The man doused himself in liquid and set himself alight.

“Officers extinguished the fire and the man was taken to hospital with burns to his legs. The injuries are not life threatening and the man remains in hospital receiving treatment.”
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said: “Police were called after an incident today at Selly Oak Jobcentre.

“The office will remain closed for the rest of the day with claimants directed to a neighbouring office.

“It would be inappropriate to say more at this time.”

The DWP has recently issued new guidelines to staff on how to deal with threats of self-harm and suicide from claimants as the squeeze on benefits takes hold.

A leaked memo was sent to all staff in April ahead of cuts to incapacity benefit and disability living allowance.

It details a “new policy for all DWP businesses to help them manage suicide and self-harm declarations from customers”.

The guidelines include a “six-point plan” for staff to follow.

The DWP insist that the new guidelines are not related to any recent policy changes and had been in development since 2009.

The Jobcentre was closed for the rest of the day, and claimants told their benefit payments would be paid directly into their accounts.

Read the full story plus eyewitness comments here.
 
Via Niall O’Conghaile and the Birmingham Mail
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.29.2012
11:18 am
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Life-like sculpture of Andy Warhol as an 83-year-old, unveiled

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To commemorate Andy Warhol’s 83rd birthday on August 6th, the McDermott Galleries in Birmingham, England, are exhibiting a sculpture of what the 83-year-old might have looked like had he lived.

The sculpture is by Edgar Askelovic, a 23-year-old artists based in Birmingham, who spent 3 months working on it, and while the result may be incredibly “life-like”, it looks less like Andy Warhol and more like one of the two aged hecklers, Waldorf and Statler, from The Muppet Show.

For some strange reason, Warhol is posed in short pants - undergarments? - in a squatting position, which unfortunately makes the great artist look like he’s taking a poop. According to Askelovic, the pose is taken from a photograph, as explained on the McDermott Galleries blog:

“The pose of the piece is taken from a photograph of Warhol in the 60s.  He is a huge inspiration to me and I wanted to make sure that I did him justice with my work.”
“I thought long and hard about what he might look like today, which led me to sculpt him without his teeth and with the wrinkles that reflect the years that have now passed.  Although maybe there should also be a botox version – after all, he was a pioneer of all things new”

“I remember reading about Andy’s humble beginnings – his first film, titled Sleep, was an epic 6 hours long and all about one of his friends sleeping.  9 people attended the premiere apparently and only 7 stayed until the end – he was a true creative.” I also love this quote from Andy, it sort of sums up how I try to approach my own work:

“An artist is someone who produces things that people don’t need to have but that he - for some reason - thinks it would be a good idea to give them.” 

—Andy Warhol on Art and Artists

Gallery owner Terence McDermott said: “The idea is that on Saturday if he was still alive he would have been 83-years-old so what Edgar has done is to use some artistic license to create his own interpretation of Warhol as an 83 year old. This wig is just as he would have worn it – a simple substitute for a cap.”

“It’s tragic to think about the life, art and advances Warhol missed out on.  I wonder what he would have done with the internet, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube…reality TV?!  Maybe there would even be a Warhol App?

“The thought of Andy Warhol in the digital age is mind blowing.  The world was always one step behind him and it’s such a shame he is not here with us.”

The sculpture is called Andy Walking, Andy tired, Andy take a little snooze, after a line from the David Bowie “Andy Warhol”, and is on sale for $16,355 (£9,995).
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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08.05.2011
03:11 pm
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