Thursday, 31 May 2012

Hilary Bravo (jewellery)

Sunlight Montmartre
I was wandering fairly aimlessly around Eastbourne last Saturday, allegedly looking for a particular birthday present but there's still a month to go before the day in question so I wasn't trying too hard. Eventually, I found myself outside the Henry Paddon gallery in South Street. This is one of my favourites of the Little Chelsea treasure trove of independent shops. I am almost guaranteed to find items I like within its walls and often within my budget too!

The Henry Paddon Gallery started in 1992 and generally has at least 60 makers and artists showcased at any one time, with a tremendous variety of skills including ceramics, woodwork, jewellery, textiles, glasswork and photography.

This time, my eye was caught by several stunning pendants created by Hilary Bravo. As you go into the gallery, they are in a glass cabinet on the left side. If you get to the wooden violinist, you've gone too far.
Printemps - Boulevard Hau

Hilary is a Devon-based artist whose work is inspired by travel. Her hand-painted jewellery is set in anodised aluminium and resin and she has been creating pieces for over twenty years. During this time, her work has featured in many galleries and collections including the famous Guggenheim in New York. I have chosen to highlight three examples which were inspired by Paris but other pendants represent moments in Venice, Monaco, the Cote d'Azur and Capri and I love the way the colours of these locations are captured within the resin. Each one, being handmade, is unique and the abstract art means each owner can recognise something personal to themselves.

Sunlight Montmartre was inspired by a quiet corner of the Parisian 'village' of Montmartre, a little park next to the church of St Pierre where visitors can rest for a while listening to birdsong over the sounds of the city.

The starting point for Printemps was a lunch in Café Flo in Printemps on the Boulevard Haussmann where Hilary gazed at the incredible glass dome above. Made by Brière, the dome is made of 3,185 individual pieces of glass in the Art Nouveau style, filtering natural light through its blues, oranges, turquoises, greens and golds to light up the Café Flo beneath.

Les Deux Moulins
Les Deux Moulins is named for a café that in turn takes its name from the remaining two windmills of Montmartre - Moulin Rouge and Moulin de la Galette. This cafe was used as the bar in which Amélie (Audrey Tautou) worked in the excellent film - The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain by Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

The Henry Paddon Gallery is at 113 South Street. 
Open from 10:00 to 17:30, Tuesday to Saturday.

Hilary Bravo's online Etsy shop is at

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Big Art Secret (art)

A fantastic idea to raise funds for St Wilfrid's Hospice, The Big Art Secret will be an exhibition of dozens of small works of art at the Towner Gallery, followed by an auction of the pictures. The Hospice has a target to raise £5.3 million over the next two years as part of their efforts to transform end of life care. I knew they rely a lot on donations to keep going but did not realise that only 15% of their money is currently provided by the NHS.

Each picture will be just the size of a postcard and they will have been created by as many different people as would like to take part in the event. Some will be by celebrities such as David Dimbleby, the patron of the new Hospice campaign, others will be by locally or nationally famous artists, and still more will be by local people and hospice patients. All the postcards will be exhibited in the Towner for a week prior to the auction to give potential buyers time to choose their favourites. However, and here's the twist, all the postcards will only be signed on the back so buyers will be tempted purely by the art itself - they won't know who 'their artist' is until after the auction!

St Wilfrid's would like to encourage as many local people to take part as possible, regardless of their artistic self-belief. The special blank art cards, instructions and a pre-addressed envelopes are available from reception at Towner, reception at the Hospice in Mill Gap Road or at any of the Hospice shops in Eastbourne, Seaford, Hailsham, Heathfield and Uckfield. Also the instructions say 'painting', I have checked and any media is acceptable - as long as it fits within the postcard. The deadline for contributions is the end of June.

Who knows, your art might be snapped up by an important collector, or you might even buy my postcard!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

La delicatesse (film)

Delicacy (La delicatesse) is a French film with Audrey Tautou in it. This is all I needed to know to get me booking the cinema seats, but would have made for a very short blog!

This French language romantic comedy stars Audrey Tautou (Amelie, A Very Long Engagement) as Nathalie, a successful businesswoman whose husband, Francois (Pio Marmai), was killed while out jogging. He was 'rammed by a car' according to the doctor although I expect the words will sound less heartless in French. Three years later, Nathalie is beginning to rebuild her life and two men might be possibilities for a new romance: Charlie (Bruno Todeschini), her boss - slick, stylish and on the face of it, the more likely choice - or Markus (Francois Damiens), her Swedish co-worker - older, less attractive and less successful than Nathalie. 

A gentle, whimsical tale, Delicacy is the first film directed by brothers David and Stephane Foenkinos. David is also the author of the original novel, a best-seller in France.

Hailsham Pavilion, Wed 6th & Thu 7th Jun, 19:45.
£6.50 (£5 concs)

Monday, 28 May 2012

Rope (theatre)

Following on from Playing Dead, the second play in the Devonshire Park Thriller Season will be Rope. The gruesome story was originally written in 1929 by British playwright Patrick Hamilton and, albeit with altered setting and characters, was made famous by the 1948 Alfred Hitchcock film starring James Stewart. It explores the idea that more intelligent people should always be allowed to control the lives of those who are less intelligent and that greater intelligence also results in moral superiority.

The main characters are Wyndham Brandon and his easily-led friend, Charles Granillo, two University students who consider themselves to be intellectually superior to their victim, Ronald Kentley. Assuming that this superiority gives them automatic rights over Ronald's life and its end, Wyndham and Charles murder him. They then hide his body in a trunk which they use as the buffet table during a dinner party attended by Ronald's father, aunt and friends.

Starring Marcus Hutton (Brookside), George Telfer and Ben Roddy.

Devonshire Park Theatre, Tues 12th - Sat 16th June, 19:45.
Weds & Sat matinees, 14.30.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

The People's Monarch (art)

Jubilee Fever is all around and, despite BF's best grumbles (he does do a good curmudgeonly), I'm getting a patriotic vibe as well. So off to the Towner I went in search of The People's Monarch, the art project commissioned by BBC South East and created by Helen Marshall.
Helen is a British artist who works in photography and film. Her previous projects have included the People's Poppy which was a mosaic of three and a half thousand images sent to her by British Legion members to publicise the valuable work of the Legion. The Poppy was displayed at London's Victoria Station in 2006. 
The Big Picture in 2008 was a record-breaking West Midlands Arts Council project of 112,896 images which became the world's largest photo mosaic. The final overall picture was of Arthur James Bunce, an amateur boxer photographed in 1926, whose portrait had been chosen from all of the images sent for the project.
Photo courtesy of @eccn_news
 The idea behind the People's Monarch project was to make up a mosaic portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by using individual photographs sent in by the people of the South East of England. Within around six weeks, the project received five and a half thousand images ranging from official family portraits to informal snaps. Many people also told the stories behind their pictures and used the project as a chance to remember loved ones who have been lost.

The finished work is about the size of a double decker bus, taking up the whole of one wall of the Towner gallery, and is two side by side portraits of the Queen, one as she was in the 1950s and one as she is now. The overall picture shows how the Queen has changed over the years, but perhaps more interesting is also seeing how her people have changed both in their interests and in the technology used to record their lives.

In order to see it, visitors stroll along one side of the excellent 'This is Eastbourne, This is ...' and turn through a doorway, almost as if we were going into one of those little rooms they make up for video installations. This is a really clever device as I was thinking 'small' but then upon turning a corner, the mosaic is huge. Right there, totally covering a whole wall and it is breathtaking. I just stood grinning at it for about a minute (yep, that was me!) before going closer to see some of the individual images as well.

I'd recommend going to see the People's Monarch for yourself. Seeing the picture online does give a good idea of the work, but being dwarfed by the real thing is definitely worth the trip!

Towner Gallery, Sat 26th May to Sun 10th June.
Tuesday - Sunday, 10:00 - 18:00.
Bank Holiday Mondays, 10:00 - 18:00.
Free admission.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

This Must Be The Place (film)

Written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino, This Must Be The Place is primarily an Italian produced film which was filmed in Ireland, Italy and America. It stars Sean Penn as Cheyenne, a bored, wealthy rockstar living in Dublin, and is Sorrentino's first film in English. Cheyenne's appearance and clothing was inspired by one of my teenage idols, Robert Smith of The Cure, and the role was written with Sean Penn in mind after the actor had seen a previous Sorrentino film and asked to work with him. Another of my (still) favourite musicians, David Byrne, has written the original music and also appears in the film as himself, but apparently Cheyenne's singing is not really Sean Penn's voice.

This Must Be The Place is essentially a road movie. Cheyenne travels to New York for a reconciliation with his estranged father but arrives too late and finds that his father has already died. After learning of his father's humiliation during the Second World War in Auschwitz at the hands of an SS Officer, Aloise Lange (Heinz Lieven), Cheyenne begins a journey across America to track down Lange, who has managed to keep his Nazi past a secret and is now living an ordinary life.

Also stars Frances McDormand.

Hailsham Pavilion, Wed 30th & Thu 31st May, 19:45.
£6.50 (£5 concs)

Friday, 25 May 2012

The Cajun Dawgs (music)

The Cajun Dawgs are a Sussex four-piece band made up of Bob Tipler on accordian, Jim Tipler on guitar, Andy Maby on drums and Darren Pearson (Pocketsize) on bass. Formed in 2007, they play "a deep south gumbo of Cajun, Zydeco, Swamp Pop, Rockin' Blues and Rockabilly authentically played on screaming accordion, twanging guitars, thumping bass and crazy drums." Their music is very different to most other bands you'll hear locally and the infectious rhythms mean you'll soon want to be up and dancing. Last time I saw them at The Star, there were dance teachers there too and I learnt the Cajun Twostep!

 I have seen The Dawgs several times (at the Six Bells and the White Horse as well the 2012 Arlington Village Party which was a brilliant night) and the band regularly gig along the coast from Rye to Brighton. In 2012 they were also part of the Crawley Folk Festival and travelled to Belgium for an American Roots festival.

Chapter 12, Sun 7th Apr 2013, 16:00.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Holly Lindfield (interview)

For May's interview, please allow me to introduce Holly Lindfield, a young Eastbourne actress who has worked with both Green Room Productions (Little Gem) and Bootcamp Theatre (Frost/Nixon). She will soon be appearing as Una in David Harrower's play Blackbird at the Underground Theatre.

tE: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
HL: My name is Holly Ann Lindfield. I'm aged 27 ( the exact same age as Una ) and I grew up in Eastbourne. I began acting, like most, from a very early age, but I did not really start taking performance seriously until I went to university in 2005 to study Theatre Arts and graduated with honours in 2008. Since then I have been working within Fringe Theatre and building up my performance skills.

tE: What were your first impressions on reading Blackbird?
HL: After reading it the first time I was not convinced that this should be a play performed in Eastbourne, Brighton maybe, but not Eastbourne. This is because the play touches on a very sensitive subject and what with musicals being the first port of call in Eastbourne, I wasn't sure that something as hard hitting as Blackbird would be received well. But then we started the rehearsal process and I thought, this is a story that needs to be told and listened to. The play is honest about something that unfortunately happens on a daily basis and it's not something that should be ignored or underperformed.

tE: Una is a woman in an extreme situation. How did you begin to identify with her?
HL: I can't identify with her 100% because I have never found myself in any of the situations that Una has had to face. I can empathise with her situation and I have spent many an hour thinking about how I would have reacted and coped if any of this had happened to me. I suppose you draw on personal memories to help you feel the loss, humiliation, anger and sadness that she does throughout the play and just hope that this is enough to do her justice.

tE: How have you approached the physicality of Blackbird? Has it been possible to rehearse without getting hurt?!
HL: I've had to go in to each rehearsal and tell Steve ( who plays Ray ) not to worry about hurting me because I won't about him. You have to give these types of scenes 110% to make them look authentic. And no, every time we rehearse these scenes I come away with a new bruise somewhere, but if it looks good, then I dont mind getting a bit battered.

tE: I've heard that you have a 10-page monologue to learn. Do you find the solo limelight liberating or are ensemble scenes more rewarding?
HL: I love learning monologues. I find it easier and you only have you to rely on, so if you mess up you only have yourself to blame. This play has been difficult to learn because there are a lot of subject changes in quick succession and Una and Ray are constantly talking over each other and you have to make sure that you get this right as you dont want your audience to miss anything. So I guess in this play the monologue is more rewarding as I get to slow down and tell Una's story.

tE: Any accent needed this time?
HL: No thankfully. Thats definitely what took the time with Little Gem, making sure that all of us were coming from the same part of Ireland, ha ha.

tE: Is your next project already lined up? What are your future theatrical plans?
HL: There are whispers of the director writing her own play, but we will have to see what happens with that.
I have just recently moved to Worthing to live with my partner who is also studying theatre. I hope to get involved with the Brighton Fringe Festival next year or may be even the Edinburgh Fringe should luck roll my way. We shall have to wait and see. 

Blackbird will be at the Underground Theatre on the 8th & 9th of June, 19:30. 
Tickets are £11 (£9 concs) and are available from

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

La Science des reves (film)


The Little Theatre's film club offering for June is the 2006 film The Science of Sleep (La Science des reves).

Written and directed by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), this surreal fantasy comedy stars Gael Garcia Bernal as Stephane Miroux, a Parisian artist. Having come home from Mexico after the death of his father, Stephane finds himself stifled by the mundane job that his mother has found for him. He expected to be artistic but the calendar-making company has little use for these skills. Only when he begins a relationship with his neighbour Stephanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is his creativity allowed to flourish. Partly in English, the film also has subtitled French and Spanish dialogue with each language used to identify a reality for Stephane.

The film is very French in style and apparently Gondry's confident journeying into the subconscious mind can sometimes be baffling and confusing to follow. I have read reviews suggesting that this is a deliberate ploy with Gondry mimicking the random nature of dreams. I have also read other reviews suggesting that the film doesn't quite mesh together with one suggesting a 'patchwork quilt that doesn't fit'. I am looking forward to making my own mind up as I think this may be a 'Marmite' film in that you either love it or hate it!

However, judging by the trailers, the the animated sequences look to be typical of Gondry with his quirky flair for the fantastic and bizarre, and both of the lead actors have been highly praised with Bernal putting in a particularly strong and moving performance.

The Little Theatre, 13th June, 7pm, 
£3 including refreshments.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Uckfield Concert Brass (music)

Uckfield Concert Brass will be performing three concerts at (or near to - depending on building works) Eastbourne Bandstand during the 2012 Summer Season.

The group began way back in 1957 providing a place for brass enthusiasts to learn, play and to give and receive enjoyment in music making. Their youth section encourages local young musicians and the full band can usually be spotted in the Lewes Bonfire processions in November. The following YouTube clip is of the tune, A Closer Walk, filmed in Crawley in 2009

Their first and third Eastbourne dates in 2012 (6th June and 12th Sept) will be the spectacular 1812 Firework Concerts. These have become a strong Eastbourne tradition occuring each Wednesday evening through the Summer. Residents and visitors alike gather to listen to nearly two hours of concert music. The finale of each of these concerts is Tchaikovsky's famous 1812 Overture accompanied by a spectacular Firework display.

Uckfield Brass will also play a Sunday Night on the Proms concert on the 24th of June. A strong dose of British patriotism, these concerts will surely be even more popular in Jubilee Year. You can expect lots of flag waving and bobbing up and down to an hour and a half of traditional Prom songs such as Land Of Hope & Glory and Rule Britannia. (If you do not already have your own flag, shops along the seafront will be happy to sell you one!)

1812 Firework Concerts, Eastbourne Bandstand, 6th June and 12th September, 20:00
Sunday Night on the Proms Concert, Eastbourne Bandstand, 24th June, 19:30.
Various Prices. Tickets are available in person from the Seafront Office, by telephone on 01323 410611, or online at

Monday, 21 May 2012

Playing Dead (theatre)

June at the Devonshire Park is Thriller Season with three plays being performed over three consecutive weeks. The first of these is Philip Gladwin's Kiss Chase which, oddly, has been retitled as Playing Dead for the Eastbourne performances. 

This psychological thriller is directed by Patric Kearns and the claustrophobic school gymnasium set has been designed by Claire Booth. The nostalgia of childhood reminiscing is increased by a soundtrack of 1980s pop music which can be heard coming from a School Reunion party as four classmates are locked together in the gym.

Years after John Dean (Marcus Hutton - Brookside) left school, he has returned for the Reunion, determined to show the bullies that wrecked his schooldays how much he has changed. But when he gets locked in the gymnasium with three of his old enemies, the mood turns dark. Debbie (Jenny Funnell - As Time Goes By) is now married, smart and elegant, but with mental and emotional bruising that she needs to keep hidden. Her then-boyfriend, Mike, (Stephen Beckett - Coronation Street, The Bill) could charm the birds from the trees but his suave exterior is fraying. Pete (Ben Roddy) was a thug and still has frightening anger management problems.

During their final summer at school, John’s girlfriend Suzannah died in a house fire and over the course of this one evening it becomes increasingly apparent that the people with John were more involved in the night of her death than he ever suspected. As he finally works out the terrible truth John is forced to answer the horrifying question - what is he going to do about it?

Devonshire Park Theatre, June 5th - 9th, 19:45.
Wednesday & Saturday matinees, 14:30.
Various prices.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Songs For A New World (musical theatre)

The Eastbourne Theatre Company will be performing Songs For A New World at Leaf Hall in June in support of St Wilfrid's Hospice. 

A relatively new company, Eastbourne Theatre was set up by Helen Ward-Jackson with Thomas Hopkins in 2011 and I think this will be their third show. Its main aim is to work with young talent and to put on productions that can inspire young and old to embrace theatre and ''Bring It To Life''.

A premiere in the South-East, the American show Songs For A New World is probably best described as a 'theatrical song cycle' rather than a full-blown musical. The sixteen songs were originally written for other occasions but they all share the same theme of 'one moment in time'. Composer Jason Robert Brown said of his show, "It's about hitting the wall and having to make a choice, (to) take a stand, or turn around and go back." The music is heavily influenced by different genres including gospel, jazz and classical and, due to this variety, the vocal parts are interesting and challenging.
Between them, the four performers - Helen Ward-Jackson, Natalie Roberts, Gareth Brighton, Adam Hepkin - will take on American history and culture with roles as varied as Christopher Columbus, Betsy Ross, Mrs Saint Nicholas and a basketball player.


Leaf Hall, Tue 12th - Thu 14th June, 19:30.
£10 (£5.50 concs) plus £2 booking fee at Tourist Information Centre - 0871 663 0031.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Terry Lees (music)

Former National Guitarist of the Year (2000), Terry Lees, will be playing both Chapter 12 and the Wheatsheaf during the beginning of 2013.

As well being a well-known performer in his own right on the folk circuit, Terry has played with such greats as Fairport Convention, Davey Graham, Bert Jansch, Martin Carthy, Labi Siffrie and Lonnie Donegan. He is amazingly talented in practically any music genre but his heart lies with Celtic and British traditional music.

A qualified teacher, Terry offers group and individual guitar tuition and I was lucky enough to see him play when my partner, also a guitarist, was invited to perform at one of Terry's concerts for his pupils several years ago. His style appears effortless and it is easy to get swept away by the music which is primarily instrumental. Close your eyes and it is hard to tell that there is just one person playing!

Chapter 12, Tue 22nd Jan, 19:30.
Wheatsheaf, Sat 2nd Feb, 20:30, with Chris Paige.

Friday, 18 May 2012

A Point Of Departure (art)

A Point Of Departure is the new exhibition at the Towner Gallery. Its theme is primarily paintings and photographs of the coast between Newhaven and Beachy Head, the port through which so many thousands of travellers have passed, and the white cliffs that are the first sight of Britain when returning home. The Towner are advertising the exhibition with a John Piper painting of Newhaven and the exhibition also includes works from Edward Bawden and the inevitable Eric Ravilious. However, this is not all!

Early Spring by Eric Slater
I liked a small run of works by Roland Collins, especially 'Beachy Head from Belle Tout' and 'The Yellow House' both of which were vibrantly coloured paintings with, I thought, unusual viewpoints. Also, make sure you discover the Noel Dennes print 'Belle Tout Lighthouse' which is tucked away behind the reading table and is quietly beautiful.

More prints are featured in an anteroom dedicated to Eric Slater. I will admit to never previously having heard of him but, for me, this was the highlight. Slater worked from 1929 until 1938 and his woodcut prints are very 1930s in style. He lived in Seaford and, prior to the Second World War, exhibited around the world. However his work then fell out of fashion and he died in obscurity in 1963. Ten of his prints are on display at the Towner and my favourites are 'Rough Sea' and Early 'Spring'.

The final work I would like to pick out is a pair of photographs by Bill Brandt. The black and white shots can simply be described as a woman on a beach but they are posed and taken in such a way to make the woman appear as pieces of driftwood. Very atmospheric and stunning.

A Point of Departure is at the Towner from 12th May to 11th November.
James Trollope will be giving a talk on Eric Slater on Thursday 21st June, 12:30.
Both the exhibition and the talk are free admission but booking is advised for the talk as places are limited.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Chicago (musical theatre)

Theatregoers can get a flavour of the Prohibition era in Eastbourne when the spectacular musical Chicago comes to the Congress Theatre in June.
Originally choreographed by the legendary Bob Fosse, Chicago is a high-energy production that includes the well-known songs "All That Jazz" and "Razzle Dazzle". We saw the show when it last toured to Eastbourne perhaps three years ago and I loved every minute of it. Even my Boyfriend was impressed and he's not a great fan of the genre!

The musical was created from a play by Chicago Tribune journalist Maurine Watkins, who wrote sensational newspaper columns about criminal trials during the 1920s. Watkins based the characters of Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly on two real-life murderesses, Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner. When Fosse was finally able to buy the rights to the play after Watkin's death, he commissioned John Kander and Fred Ebb to write the musical score. Each song is based upon a particular vaudeville performer or number and this approach gives the show its strong musical variety.

When nightclub singer Roxie Hart shoots her lover and is sent to await trial in prison, she realises that only public fame and notoriety is likely to save her from Death Row. However, fellow inmate Velma Kelly was already taking the same path and resents the newcomer's attempts to steal her limelight. A sharp satire on corruption and the celebrity criminal, Chicago is still as relevant in 2012 as it was in 1926.

The current tour stars Ali Bastian as Roxie Hart, Stefan Booth as Billy Flynn, Tupele Dorgu as Velma Kelly, and Bernie Nolan as Matron ‘Mama’ Morton.

Mon 4th to Fri 8th June, evening performances at 19.30.
Thur 7th June, matinee performance at 14.30 & evening at 19:30.
Sat 9th June, matinee performance at 17:00 & evening at 20:30.
Various ticket prices and discount options through Eastbourne Theatres website.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

La Grande Illusion (film)

The Hailsham Film Club offering for June will be the French film La Grande Illusion. The classic war drama, directed by Jean Renoir, has been chosen to tie in with the 75th anniversary of its original release which was on the 8th June, 1937. It has been digitally remastered and will be shown on Hailsham Pavilion's state of the art digital system.

La Grande Illusion, although essentially a pacifist film, has a lot more to say about war than just a simplistic 'it's bad'. The central characters are representative of different nationalities and social classes, each with their own political ideologies and beliefs. Renoir used the then recent Great War as the film's setting, but was concerned with the rising of fascism and antisemitism during the 1930s, and the threat of a Second War destroying Europe again. He did not believe that any war could ever accomplish its stated aims. At the time of the 1958 re-release, Renoir said, "[Grand Illusion is] a story about human relationships. I am confident that such a question is so important today that if we don’t solve it, we will just have to say ‘goodbye’ to our beautiful world."
During the Great War, two French aviators, the aristocratic Captain de Boeldieu and Lieutenant Marechal, a mechanic, are captured and sent to a prisoner of war camp where they meet other prisoners including Rosenthal, the son of a wealthy Jewish banking family. The two aviators manage to escape but are recaptured and this time are sent to a fortress. They are reunited with Rosenthal. De Boeldieu makes friends with the fortress commandant, another aristocrat named Van Rauffenstein, and is content to stay put, but Rosenthal and Marechal are determined to try another escape attempt.

Hailsham Pavilion, Tue 12th June, 19:45.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Voulez-Vous, Mamma Mia - the Concert (music)

I like to think that everyone has a soft spot for the music of ABBA. I'm probably very wrong about this but personally I love them! 

Amongst their many tribute bands, Voulez Vous are one of the best. My sister and I took our Mum to see them at the Congress Theatre on a previous tour and the three of us were exhausted by the end of the show from dancing and singing along practically all the way through! The group are now on their 20th Anniversary tour which is themed around the Mamma Mia stage show & film.

Expect great performances of all the well-known hits as well as a selection of lesser known songs, all backed by a band of talented musicians. For this tour, there will also be projected video clips of the original ABBA and from the hit film Mamma Mia to add to the atmosphere. Linda and Emma, performing as Anni-Frid and Agnetha, will have close to forty costume changes during the show and no doubt all will be as fantastic as only 1970s glam can be!

When I saw Voulez Vous, the theatre was absolutely packed. As the show is only just over two weeks away, if you want to go and haven't yet bought your tickets, I think you better hotfoot it to the box office right now!

Congress Theatre, 
Wednesday 30th May, 19:30.
£16 / £18.

Monday, 14 May 2012

This is Eastbourne, This is ... (art)

The 2012 annual schools exhibition at the Towner Gallery is an exploration what makes local children proud of their community, their town and their culture. The title is a bit misleading as not all the work is Eastbourne based - the nearly one thousand children involved in making the artworks are from twenty schools including Seaford Head and Pevensey & Westham Primary amongst others.

The ground floor exhibition hall has been transformed with huge - and I mean huge - paper rolls unfurling down the walls and across the floor. Each roll is from a specific school where pupils have covered with their impressions of their local community. There is also a selection of local adult artworks from the Towner collection on the opposing wall, all of which are interesting in their own right, but most are overwhelmed but the wealth of ideas on the rolls. I am going to pick out a few that particularly caught my eye but I am sure that if I returned, I would realise I had missed out other great works. I think visitors could easily spend a good hour just in this one room of the Towner.

The Lindfield School roll is striking in black and white and includes a panel that is reminiscent of a John Virtue work (also on show in the exhibition) showing small landscape sketches mosaic-ed together into a large image. I think the John Virtue might have been included in last year's Obsessive Compulsive Repetitive exhibition but am not totally sure.

Bishop Bell also chose to work in black and white and took the juxtaposition of humanity and nature as their theme. The complicated roll shows a variety of images including ideas such as plants reclaiming abandoned buildings and I thought this was one of the most interesting offerings.

Pevensey & Westham Primary went to the other extreme and their roll is pure colour. Rainbows, suns, skies, trees, buildings; the sheer exhuberance of this roll grabbed me from half a room away and it is great fun.

The roll that defined the exhibition for me was created by Shinewater Primary and I thought that this was the one that truly showed pride in a community. A bold title announcing 'This is Shinewater' and strictly colour coded sections made their roll stand out. There is a beautiful lake high up on the wall. Below the lake are two panels, one  red & orange, the other blue & yellow, and both are created with small pictures placed together as in the John Virtue work referenced earlier. The final segment, spread across the floor towards the viewer is an amazing photographic collage, primarily in the school colours but including ideas as diverse as chickens, the school logo on a wall, and partial faces. 

This is Eastbourne, This is ... is at the Towner Gallery from 12th May to 10th June.
Free admission.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Home Service (music)

Legend of the British folk scene John Tams will be visiting Hailsham Pavilion 'for one night only' fronting Home Service. The band have temporarily reunited following the exciting discovery last year of recordings of their music at the 1986 Cambridge Folk Festival and are touring to promote the live album. Expect to hear once-again-relevant anthems on the inequalities of Thatcherite Britain from the winners of the Radio 2 Best Live Act award.

The eight man band is John Tams, Graeme Taylor, Steve King, Jon Davie, Michael Gregory, Paul Archibald, Roger Williams and Andy Findon. Also, due to medical reasons, Joe Topping will take the lead vocalist role although Tams will still provide his customary introductions to the songs.

A spot of trivia: Amongst all his other achievements throughout his 40 year career, John Tams wrote the music for the stage show, War Horse, although I doubt he will be bringing any horses onto the Pavilion stage!

Hailsham Pavilion, Friday 25th May, 19:30, £22.50.
Box Office: 01323 841414 or online at

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Born In The Gardens (theatre)

Born In The Gardens is the new touring production from Creative Cow, the Devon-based company that performed the well-received Look Back In Anger at the Underground Theatre last year. Born In The Gardens is presented in association with the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford.

If you've been enjoying the nostalgia of the 1970s programmes on the BBC recently, you might also enjoy this Peter Nicholls comedy which is set in 1979. Directed by Amanda Knott, the play stars Katherine Senior as Maud, Edward Ferrow as Mo, Jonathan Parish as Hedley and Rachel Howells as Queenie. 

As the rest of the nation is embracing new technologies and social behaviours, a mother and son seem content to let such wonders pass them by. Living in an ageing mock-Tudor house in Bristol, Maud and her stay-at-home son, Mo, pass their days happily together. He talks to the cat, plays his drums and concocts ridiculous cocktails for them both while she sits chatting away to the people on the telly. No amount of coaxing from Maud’s suave son Hedley, and Mo’s glamorous twin sister, Queenie, will persuade the eccentric pair to lead a more normal life – even the “michael wave” is a gadget too far and part of a world neither wishes to inhabit.

Underground Theatre, Sat 26th May, 19:30.
£10 (UGT members/students £9)

Friday, 11 May 2012

The Last Lunch (theatre)

My second post about the Lamb Theatre this week as they are offering some interesting and unusual theatre over the coming weeks. Something Underground, a theatre company from Brighton, are bringing The Last Lunch, their profound and amusing play of social observation, at the beginning of June. The play has been written and directed by Jonathan Brown and will be performed by a 10-person cast - hopefully they will all fit on the stage!

It's Sunday lunch, and where the roast should be, there's a tofu wiener casserole instead. Albert, a butcher, is mortified. Why has his wife Jean put it on the table?  
Because their son, Mark, and his girlfriend, Julie, are coming to lunch and they are both vegans. Mark's twin sister Maddy is on her way too with her 16 year old daughter, Hannah. So is beef-farmer Pete, abattoir worker Dave, and the spirits of some of the animals that Dave, Pete and Albert have been instrumental in dispatching. Everyone is converging on Albert's house and all is set for a monumental clash of beliefs, values, knives, and hearts.

In The Last Lunch, butchers and vegans find strange common ground and common ancient knowledge. Deeply hidden secrets must emerge, and disturbing pacts will be made.

Upstairs @ The Lamb, Fri 1st June, 19:30.
£10 / £8.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Lúnasa (music)

Lúnasa, are one of the hottest Irish bands around and are guaranteed to raise the roof when they come to Hailsham Pavilion this weekend in the second of May's Spyboy shows at the venue. A powerhouse of a band, Lúnasa employ a melodic and memorable interweaving of wind and string instruments, with stunning musical arrangements.

Former Waterboy and Sharon Shannon's bassist Trevor Hutchinson teamed up with guitarist Donogh Hennessy in 1996. Other band members over the years have included Uilleann piper John McSherry and flautist/piper Michael McGoldrick, fiddle player Seán Smyth and flautist/whistle player Kevin Crawford.

The current band of Seán Smyth, Keven Crawford and Trevor Hutchinson will be joined for this current tour by Paul Meehan on guitar and Cillian Vallely on Uilleann pipes and whistles.

Sunday 13th May, 19:30, £19.50.
Box Office: 01323 841414 or online at

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The Man With The Golden Pen (theatre)

Upstairs at the Lamb in Old Town, The Lamb Theatre is the intimate venue for the premiere of a new Chancel Productions play entitled The Man With The Golden Pen. The one-man piece portrays a period in the life of Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond spy thrillers. Written by Mark Burgess, the play stars Michael Chance and is directed by Louise Jameson.

"Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, Secret Agent 007, stands before the audience, a Martini in hand, a terrified look in his eyes. At 42 he is about to do the thing he most fears; he is getting married!
It is 1952 and Fleming is putting the finishing touches to the first Bond book, Casino Royale and Bond is with us; the alter ego, an icon of class and everything Fleming aspired to."

Lamb Theatre, Sat 12th May, 19:30.
£10, concessions £8.

Following the single Eastbourne performance, the play will transfer to the Brighton Festival, upstairs at the Three & Ten for three nights (15th, 16th & 17th May).

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Andrew Voller (art)

A new venture for the Underground Theatre is a permanent art exhibition space, Art Under Ground, to be found enlivening the foyer. Previously selected artists have shown their work at the venue but only during the popular Saturday coffee mornings and for one morning each. Now exhibitions will run for at least a month per artist and the Underground has extended its opening times over two days in order to showcase the work.

The first artist to be promoted is Andrew Voller. Owner of the Levitate Gallery in the Labyrinth, Eastbourne, Andrew is a young professional artist and I think his distinctive style will make a strong statement in the Underground. He obtained a 1st Class Honours BA at the Hull School of Art in 1999 and has been awarded the George Shepherd Memorial Art Prize for outstanding achievement. His exhibition began on the 5th of May and is planned to continue until the end of August. The individual pieces on show will include sketches, themed paintings, portraits and abstracts and will be changed periodically to encourage return visitors.

Art Under Ground will be open from 10:00 to 16:00 on all Fridays and Saturdays and also throughout UGT performances.
The coffee bar will also be open.
Free admission.

Monday, 7 May 2012

DNA (theatre)

I'm wasn't sure if I was going to get another theatre trip in May, but having just been given Theatre Tokens for my birthday, I'm definitely going to see the second currently touring Hull Truck play.
The first was The Lady In The Van, the Alan Bennett comedy, which we were lucky enough to catch at Brighton's Theatre Royal in April. Nichola McAuliffe was tremendous in the title role and I was amazed to see The Lady's vehicles actually being driven onto the stage. How did they fit in the wings?!

The second tour is DNA and this one is coming to Eastbourne. The Dennis Kelly play has been directed and designed by Anthony Banks at the National Theatre and features a predominantly young cast. First performed at the National Theatre in 2008, this startling play is fast becoming a contemporary-classic with young audiences and has recently become a core set-text on the GCSE English syllabus.
Eastbourne Theatres have put on a couple of 'younger' plays recently which have done well - firstly 'Punk Rock' and then the incredible 'Mogadishu' - so I hope this one will also get good support.

Dennis Kelly explores the dynamics of group behaviour in this compelling thriller. A group of teenagers do something bad, really bad, then panic and cover the whole thing up. But when they find that the cover-up unites them and brings harmony to their otherwise fractious lives, where's the incentive to put things right? 

Devonshire Park Theatre, Thurs 17th - Sat 19th May
All evenings 19:45, Fri & Sat matinees 14:30
Suitable for ages 12+

I have written my review in the Comments below.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Palm Court Strings (music)

A regular musical event in Eastbourne is Afternoon Tea with the Palm Court Strings at the Grand Hotel, King Edwards Parade. Taking place on the last Sunday of every month (except June, July and December) the Strings entertain with a selection of 1920s and 1930s 'Salon' music from the collection of violinist Shelley van Loen, the founder of the group. Always beautifully dressed in original costumes of the period, these musicians are increasingly in demand for a variety of events including radio and television appearances and the BAFTA awards ceremony. 

The accompanying photograph of the Strings was taken during filming for the BBC programme 'Titanic and Me' that went out in April with Len Goodman as host. A cellist named John Wesley Woodward was a member of the orchestra at the Grand prior to joining the Titanic. He was one of the eight musicians who continued to play as the ship went down and there is a plaque to him in the Eastbourne Bandstand.

The Sunday Afternoon Teas are very popular with usually more than 100 people attending each one. Guests are asked to arrive by 3pm and the music begins around 3.30pm. Booking in advance is pretty much essential and you should call 01323 412345 to make a reservation.

£24.50 per person for full Afternoon Team and Music.
£32 per person for a Glass of Champagne, full Afternoon Tea and Music.
Sunday 30th September (SOLD OUT)
Sunday 28th October
Sunday 25th November