What does the word ‘family’ mean to you? It can mean many things in our society. Some define family as a mother, a father and one or more children. For others, there don’t need to be children in the home for there to be a family. Where there are children, about three quarters of the parents will be married to each other.
In 2013 the Office of National Statistics, which is a government body which takes surveys on all manner of topics to help the government make policy (rules under which we all live), found that there were 18.2 million people living in this type of family. Many more of us have families which have a different make-up. For the purpose of the survey, a family is defined as people living in the same household.
However, as many of you will know, there are other ways in which we describe our family. There are children who have two parents of the same gender, there are children who have only one parent with whom they live, other children have guardians and live with aunts, uncles or grandparents.
Have you got a favourite painting? Mine is ‘A Portrait of the Countess Golovine’ painted by Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun, sometime around 1797. It is, unsurprisingly, a portrait of Countess Varvara Nikolaevna Golovine, a talented musician and artist from Russia. Elisabeth and the Countess became great friends and I love the way the Countess is smiling in the portrait, with a red shawl draped around her shoulders and her dark curly hair swept up in behind a scarf. The painting belongs to the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham, which is one of my favourite galleries.
I love going to art galleries and looking at paintings, but at first I found it quite a daunting thing to do. Have you ever been to an art gallery and not known where to start? Or heard art critics talking about symbolism, composition and form but not understood? Sometimes looking at art can sound difficult, and talking about it can be a whole other language!
But looking at art doesn’t have to be complicated. Things like symbolism, where objects in paintings are used to represent something that’s happening, like a skull symbolising death, can be important and the composition, or the way things in the painting are arranged, can tell us a lot about the artist and why the painted what they did.
This October Earth will be passing through the tail of Halley’s comet, which will mean a shower of meteors flashing across the night sky. Our science editor Sam Gouldson explains.
What is Halley’s Comet?
A comet is a lump of rocky particles, ice and dust all bound together like a dirty snowball. When the comet nears a star, its surface transforms from a solid to a gas. The star’s light shines through these gases and makes them visible to observers as a fuzzy cloud around the comet’s centre, and a tail streaming out behind.