Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Three Men In A Boat (theatre)

 Jerome K Jerome's classic Victorian story of a boat journey has amused and enchanted readers for over a century. Now, the Original  Theatre Company is bringing its version to the Devonshire Park stage. This is the same company that performed See How They Run in Eastbourne last year. The cast have three weeks of rehearsals in Eastbourne before the tour begins and have been posting photos and updates on their Facebook page. There are also a couple of wonderfully detailed photos of models for the sets.

Three Men In A Boat has been adapted by director Craig Gilbert and will be dotted with songs ranging from folk to music hall to Gilbert & Sullivan. Craig has said that his choice of songs was influenced by Jerome's mentions of Music Hall throughout the original book. There will be a live piano accompaniment, played by Sue Appleby, and the musical element adds a "lightness and playfulness which is perfectly in tune with the characters and the story".

Three young friends - J (Alastair Whatley), Harris (Tom Hackney) and George (Christopher Brandon) - decide to take a gentle boat trip from Kingston to Oxford in order to escape from the stress of their city lives. However, very little goes to plan and they end up in all kinds of mischief from disagreements with swans to culinary disasters.
There are only three actors and, between them, they will play all the parts so I think it will be quite a challenge for them to remember not only the whens and wheres of the script, but also who they should be as they speak!

Devonshire Park Theatre, Tue 28th Aug - Sat 8th Sep, 19:45.
£13, £16, £18.
Wed & Sat matinees, 14:30.
£13.50 all seats.
No performances Sun or Mon.

Tickets online from Eastbourne Theatres, in person at the Box Office, or by phone on 01323 412000.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Time 2 Potter (art)

Hillier Garden Centre are hosting a range of child-friendly arts and crafts sessions throughout the Summer Holidays, one of which is pottery painting with Time 2 Potter

 The idea is that Time 2 Potter provide the blank white pottery item, the paints and the protective overall(!), and the painter provides the imagination, creativity and artistic flair. Anyone is welcome to join in painting. Obviously the activity will particularly appeal to children, but adults are welcome to try their skills as well!

There are lots of safe acrylic paints in a wide range of colours and various items available to spark inspiration. These include animals, fairies, racing cars and dinosaurs. Once the item is finished, it is sealed with varnish so it will appear to have been kiln-fired but will be ready to take away the same day - there is no need to return several days later to collect your masterpiece.

I spoke to Wendy Kent, who runs Time 2 Potter and they will be at the Garden Centre from 10:00 until 16:00 every Wednesday and Thursday throughout August. You can drop by at any time - no appointments necessary - but the last painters need to be started by about 15:15 due to the time it takes to paint and then varnish. The price varies depending on the pottery bisque that it chosen, but will range from £4 to £10.

Hillier Garden Centre, Wed & Thu throughout Aug, 
8th & 9th, 15th & 16th, 22nd & 23rd, 29th & 30th.

Time 2 Potter will also be at the Princes Park Fun Day on Saturday the 18th of August.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Gallery North Open Part II (art)

From the outside, Gallery North is an unassuming venue in Hailsham. Just jump on the 51 or the 54 bus from Terminus Road in Eastbourne and off again by the big Tesco in Hailsham, or cycle straight up the Cuckoo Trail. The Gallery is on the corner of the High Street and the entrance is on Vicarage Lane. It is an old building with whitewashed rooms over two floors. The staircase is quite steep but there are three rooms of art on the ground floor alone.

We were greeted by a friendly steward who was keen to answer our questions and chat. Gallery North is not intimidating at all! The steward and her sister, who was also working yesterday morning, are both volunteers.

The Open Part I was on during May & June this year and the current exhibition, Open Part II is a second opportunity for many local artists to show off their prowess. There are 34 artists currently exhibiting and the works include paintings, photographs, mixed media, digital media, ceramics, jewellery and sculpture. 

Highlights for me included finally seeing 'Ne m'oubliez pas' by Ian Goldsmith which is in Room 3. I have been following the creation of this botanical painting through his blog. It is so much more beautiful in the flesh and bigger than the online image had suggested. Ian is also showing a melancholy painting of a lone boy, perhaps in snow, engrossed in his own thoughts. It is entitled 'Planet Ezra' and is upstairs. I was quite moved by it.

Alison Hudson has a wonderful acrylic painting, 'Lion', which is so cleverly textured that from across the room I thought it must be fabric. Also in wildlife art, there is an amazing 'Infant Gorilla' by previous bloggee Roz Nathan. Be sure also to see the three stunning black & white shell and sealife gelatin prints by David Hoad at the top of the stairs. 

Also at the top of the stairs are two mixed media streetscapes by Felicity Price-Smith, 'After Effects' and 'Eastleigh Village'. They are both in gentle palettes and have a fascinating use of small details. I particularly liked the way the different media make up a three-dimensional feel to the paintings. 'Regeneration' by Hugh Ford is particularly surreal and, although I studied it closely, I'm not quite sure I understood everything that is going on. Hugh also has two much darker works downstairs including 'Grey Beard' which could be a self-portrait. Plus while we're being surreal, Andy Bradley's digital image 'Engineer Scheduled' is a bizarre fried egg machine which is great fun. 

Sue Ramsay-Smith has contributed ceramic bowls in gorgeous shades of blue and green and Yolanda Beer shows cream coloured ceramics illustrated with human figures. Two artists have contributed wire sculptures. My favourite is Ali Sivyour's 'Larder' which is white painted wood containing delicate wire sculptures of a jug, olives, and an onion.

Enough already! I hope this has whetted your appetite but I'm not going to describe all the work. You'll need to make your own visit to discover everything - and please be sure to sign the guest book while you are there!

The Open Part II is open Tuesdays to Saturdays, 10:00- 16:00, until the 25th of August.
Free entry but donations welcome.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Tania Long (artist)

I visited the Leaf Hall Arts Festival  last Saturday and, although there was a dance class going on upstairs, I managed to visit the Tania Long installation downstairs in Studio 2. 

 Tania is inspired by the mystical, particularly mermaids and dragons and fantasy creatures. She primarily works in watercolour, pencil and wax crayon, and also creates mixed media collages and sculptures. She was originally from Hertfordshire and, after several years in London including a BA in Illustration & Design from Harrow College, she moved to Sussex.

The Sea of Oil and Trees - A Cry For Our Oceans is a fantastical three-dimensional underwater world, which has been made entirely from recycled materials. A lot of these materials were the sort of plastic you can see littering Eastbourne beach every day so it was quite sobering to see them used to create an ocean, rather than to destroy one. Tania has been beachcombing for the project and in just one visit managed to collect three bags full - one of usable plastics and two of sheer rubbish. I spotted fish made from bottles and one made of whiskas boxes (a catfish?!), there are transparent jellyfish, various underwater plants, and a mermaid. The work is large, taking up about a quarter of the studio and was about as tall as me (I'm 5'8") so it is easy to feel drawn into the piece.

Tania will also be running a Fish & Critters workshop as part of the Leaf Hall Arts Festival. I am not sure if all the places have already been taken but contact details are below. The workshop is intended for children of 8 years and older and will give them the opportunity to make their own recycled fish and sea creatures. Materials will be provided and parents of 8-12 year old children are advised that craft knives will be used so please to supervise your child at this time!

Leaf Hall Arts Festival, Sat 21st Jul - Sun 5th Aug.
Fish & Critters workshop, Thu 2nd Aug, 10:00-12:00, £3.
Contact Gina on 078337 63698 or visit www.leafhall.co.uk

Friday, 27 July 2012

The History Boys (theatre)

I love The History Boys - it is mischievous, poignant, shocking and fun! This August, Alan Bennett's popular play is returning to Eastbourne in the capable hands of Bootcamp Theatre, the company that has recently produced Art, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and Our Country's Good. It will be directed by Sandra Cheesman (Little Gem, Blackbird).

The History Boys premiered in 2004 and  won both the Laurence Olivier Award and the Tony Award for Best New Play. It was made into a film starring the original stage cast which included Richard Griffiths and Frances De La Tour, plus two young actors who have gone on to become household names, Dominic Cooper and James Corden.

The play is set in a Sheffield grammar school where a group of eight bright sixth form boys are preparing to sit their Oxbridge entrance exams. It is the first time that the school has put so many boys forward and there are a lot of hopes riding on their exam results. The witty script is a great ensemble piece, driven by the repartee of the boys. It features adult themes of sexuality and power, as well examining the role of history in schools and the philosophies of education. Steve Scott (Our Country's Good, Blackbird) will be playing Hector, the eccentric General Studies teacher who cares more about learning for its own sake than for the restrictions of the set curriculum. The Headmaster is ambitious for his school to move up the academic leagues and does not believe that Hector's coaching will get the class to Oxbridge. So he brings in a cynical young supply teacher, Irwin, to share the workload. The character of Irwin is believed to have been based on Niall Ferguson, now known for his historical television programmes.

Underground Theatre, Wed 22nd - Sat 25th Aug, 19:30.
Tickets £10 / £9. 
Available online, by calling 0845 680 1926, or from Eastbourne Tourist Information Centre.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Michelham Priory Contemporary Craft Show

Updated 12/02/2013

The beautiful Michelham Priory will once again host the Sussex Guild's Contemporary Craft Show at the beginning of August. The historic Priory is a fascinating day on in its own right. As well as the main house which is furnished to illustrate different periods of its 800 year existence, there are also seven acres of peaceful grounds, the longest water filled moat in England, a working watermill (which sells perfect breadmaking flour!), replica iron-age houses, and contemporary sculptures dotted around the kitchen and herb gardens.
The Sussex Guild consists of professional designers and craftspeople who all live either in Sussex or in the neighbouring counties of Kent, Surrey and Hampshire. It was founded over forty years ago in 1970, and has grown considerably since its inception. Currently it includes jewellers, glassmakers, leatherworkers, metalworkers, printmakers, textile makers, potters and woodworkers. 

At the Priory, the Guild will take up residence in and around the Elizabethan Barn and also in marquees in the grounds. There will be an amazing forty-two craftspeople onsite, some demonstrating their skills as well as others exhibiting and selling their wares. Amongst the crafts on show will be a blacksmith's forge, a potter at his wheel, and woodturners. There will also be a storyteller to keep the children entertained. This is great opportunity to see high quality arts and crafts being created in front of your very eyes, and maybe even to treat yourself to a special gift!

Michelham Priory, Thu 1st to Sun 4th Aug 2013, 10:30-17:00.
You will need to purchase a ticket to enter the grounds, but this will include admission to the Priory as well.
Adult £7.50. Senior/Student £6.50. Child (5-15) £4.00.

Michelham Priory is open every day from March to November, 10:30-17:00 (or dusk if earlier)

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Creative Writing Workshop

Great news! The first workshop has sold out already so a second one is now booking for Sunday the 30th of September.

A new venture for Something Literary is a Creative Writing Workshop entitled 'Flying With Words'.

When I first met Gina, during the Eastbourne Can cashmob at the Enterprise Centre in June, she had been searching out writer's groups and workshops in the Eastbourne area but without much success. I guess the old adage of 'if you want a job done, do it yourself' has rung true and Something Literary will be hosting 'Flying With Words' on Sunday the 16th of September. 

The one day workshop will cost £25. It will include guided exercises to stir your creativity and help you uncover stories using memory, prompts and imagination. All you need to bring is a notebook and pen, and your lunch. Tea and cake will be provided to get the morning started.
The course tutor is arts journalist and playwright, Jacq Molloy. Jacq has taught Creative Writing at Sussex Downs College for the past ten years and also teaches with the Open University. She was the winner of the Frome Festival Short Story Competition in 2011.

Something Literary, Sun 16th Sep, 11:00-16:00, £25. Book your place online or drop into the shop.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Sonya Tatham (artist)

If you haven't yet been tempted to drop into Leaf Hall for their Arts Festival, perhaps the promise of seeing the artwork exhibited by Sonya Tatham will do the trick!

Eastbourne artist Sonya is primarily inspired by the natural beauty of the South Downs, the changing of the seasons, and particularly the different lighting that is produced by the special microclimate of the area. A lot of her work is watercolour and I love the way that she can convey a powerful sense of atmosphere purely through her choice of colours. She specialises in wide landscapes and also, in complete contrast, detailed close-up paintings of seed heads of flowers. The scene above was discovered while Sonya was out running in January. The tree was apparently totally bereft of leaves but ablaze with red berries. The honesty seed pods below are one of her most popular greeting card designs.

Sonya is enthusiastic to exhibit her work which has been seen at various local and not-so-local venues including the Towner Gallery. At the moment, as well as Leaf Hall, she also has work for sale upstairs at The Secret Garden, a beautiful artificial florist shop in Terminus Road, and at the Francis Perry Gallery in Susan's Road. She has also been accepted for the Hop Gallery Open in October. I particularly liked a painting of the Eastbourne Bandstand which is currently at the Secret Garden, but you'll have to visit there for yourself to see it!

Leaf Hall Arts Festival, Sat 21st Jul - Sun 4th Aug,

Monday, 23 July 2012

Chariots Of Fire (film)

The iconic sports film, Chariots Of Fire, is being re-released to coincide with an expected surge in enthusiasm for athletics across Britain this summer. When I first saw the title on the Hailsham Pavilion listings, my heart sank - surely Hollywood hadn't tried to remake this classic? Breathe easy, they haven't! Instead, the original footage has been remastered and it is hoped that the strong patriotic message of the film will strike as much of a chord with audiences today as it did thirty years ago.

Written by Colin Welland and directed by Hugh Hudson, the film was nominated for seven Oscars and won four: Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Costume Design and Best Original Score. Vangelis' electronic theme is now just as famous in its own right and is an almost essential accompaniment to any slow-motion sequence used on television.

Based (fairly loosely, apparently) on a true story, Chariots Of Fire tells of two male athletes, a devout Scottish evangelical Christian, Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), and a Cambridge-educated English Jew, Harold Abraham (Ben Cross), who compete against each other in the 1924 Paris Olympics. Liddell is sure that he must win in order to prove his religious faith and Abraham is desperate to win to prove that Jews are not an inferior race and to cement his right to be English.

The two leads were perfectly cast and other notable actors include Ian Holm, Patrick Magee, John Gielgud and Nigel Havers. Also, for the eagle-eyed, I believe a young Stephen Fry can be spotted in the background of one scene but, as I write, I can't remember exactly when.

Hailsham Pavilion, Tue 7th & Thu 9th Aug, 19:45.
Wed 8th Aug, 14:15.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Friends of the Devonshire Park Theatre Summer Fete

Inside the Devonshire Park Theatre
 The Friends of the Devonshire Park is a group of theatre enthusiasts who support the historic Devonshire Park Theatre by attending plays and shows, raising funds for its upkeep, volunteering as stewards, and carrying out essential maintenance work during the 'dark period' when the theatre is closed (usually just after the pantomime). The Friends was formed in 1984, the centenary year of the theatre, and since then its work has paid for the renovations to the Stalls, Dress Circle and Upper Circle.

Saturday August the 18th is the date for the Friends Summer Fete, one of their big annual fundraising events. This year it will be held at St Andrews School in Meads from 11:30 to 16:00. I didn't know where St Andrews was either, but apparently you can jump on the number 3 bus from Stand A in Terminus Road to get there!

The Sea Gypsies
As well as the traditional games, raffle and tombola, gift and trade stalls, there will also be the chance to win a Meal For Two at some of Eastbourne's top restaurants.
Family-friendly entertainment will be put on throughout the afternoon. Steve Hewlett is a comedy ventriloquist who will be bringing his puppet friends Pongo the Skink and Tiny Tina along. The ever-popular Sea Gypsies will be belly-dancing at 2pm, and Brighton entertainer Grant Martins will sing.

St Andrews School. Sat 18th Aug, 11:30-16:00.
Free admission.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance (theatre)

The big summer show at the Devonshire Park Theatre during August is the latest incarnation of Gotta Sing Gotta Dance. It was created by Eastbourne Theatres Artistic Director, Chris Jordan, together with musical director, Robert Cousins. As well as now being a home town favourite, the show has also since embarked on a nationwide tour. The new show will feature all the best bits of the previous shows and includes some brand new numbers. Plus there will be a new whistle-stop tour of the entire West End completed in under four minutes!

The production is two hours of spectacular song and dance numbers from both stage and screen. You can expect to see and hear songs from Singin In The Rain, Les Miserables, 42nd Street, Oliver and Hairspray. All will be performed by a West End cast accompanied by an excellent live band.

"An unforgettable night at the musicals!"

Devonshire Park Theatre, Thu 1st to Sat 24th Aug, 19:45.
Wed and Sat matinees, 14:30. No performances on Sundays or Mondays.
Tickets various prices, available online, by calling 01323 412000, or in person from the Box Office and the Tourist Information Office.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Lammas Festival

photo by Graham Huntley
The amazing Eastbourne Lammas Festival will soon be taking over the Western Lawns again for its annual celebration of the Lammas Harvest. The colourful event was originally a Pagan festival, held at the time of the first corn cutting, to give thanks to the Gods for the Earth's bounty. The contemporary Eastbourne festival has been held every year since 2001 and is a family-friendly spectacle of music and dance which raises money for the Royal National Lifeboat Association.

This year, the two day festival is on Saturday the 28th and Sunday the 29th of July. It will start with the Carnival Procession of drummers, Morris dancers and the Eastbourne Giants which will leave the Pier around midday on the Saturday going along the Promenade to the Western Lawns. 

The music line-up this year includes Brighton singer-songwriter Annika Brown, foot-stomping song and tunes with the Ragati String Band, cool jazz and be-bop from Blueshift, and traditional songs performed with contemporary instruments and lots of energy by Last Of The Wild. The essential Ceilidh led by The Howlers will end the weekend.

photo by Graham Huntley
Nine Morris dancing sides will perform during the weekend and will be joined by the wonderful Pentacle Drummers, local belly dance troupe, the Sea Gypsies and the Sussex School of Dance.
There will also be over 30 stalls on the Western Lawns ranging from Greenpeace and the RSPB, to artisan chocolate making and fishcakes (not together!), Saxon village crafts and pottery, Eastbourne Bonfire Society and a variety of spiritual and new age stalls. Plus, a favourite of mine which we first saw at Herstmonceux Medieval Fair a few years ago, Mousetown!

For details of all the music, dancing and stalls, visit the Lammas Festival website which has lots of information.

Saturday 28th & Sunday 29th July, Western Lawns.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Roz Nathan (artist)

Self-Conscious Lunch 3
Mountain Gorilla by Roz Nathan
I met wildlife artist Roz Nathan at the launch of Studio Eleven a couple of weeks ago. The lovely new studio is in the Old Printworks building, next to the Enterprise Centre, and Roz is sharing the space with textile artist Christine Chester.

Roz originally trained in Wildlife Illustration at Carmarthen in Wales and has worked with a variety of parks, zoos and charities including the RSPCA, Whipsnade, Howletts and Port Lympne. She came to Brighton University for her MA in sequential imagery and focused on our attitudes to apes, such as chimpanzees and gorillas, particularly those in captivity. She has previously exhibited her work at the Society of Wildlife Artists and the Marwell International Wildlife Art Society.

Studio Eleven launch, July 2012
Roz has also taught art, particularly painting and drawing, for over twenty-five years. She currently has a small studio in Stone Cross and one of the great things about the Studio Eleven launch was the number of her students exclaiming about how much extra space they would now enjoy! There will be five courses offered at the new studio, all beginning from September 2012. Four are annual courses and the fifth, Drawing For The Terrified, will run just for the Autumn Term. Please contact Roz directly to book your place.

Drawing For The Terrified is a beginner's course which uses simple exercises to explain shape, perspective, quality of line, negative spaces and tone. The work would also be useful for people who have some experience but have problems with a particular aspect of drawing.
Tuesdays, 10:15-12:45, £12.50 per session.

Drawing For Improvers is the next stage and students will be encouraged to experiment with a variety of media such as charcoal, pencil, pastels, pen & ink and some simple printmaking. The aim is to increase students' confidence in their ability. Different approaches will be explained and practised and there will be a wide range of still life subject matter, both man-made and natural.
Tuesdays, 14:00-16:30, £12.50 per session.

Roz Nathan and Christine Chester
For those who already have drawing and painting experience, three further courses are available. Landscape Drawing & Painting will explore lots of different ways to depict landscapes in different weathers. Aspects such as hills, rivers, skies, and vegetation will be worked on and other landscape artists discussed for inspiration. 
Wednesdays, 14:15-16:45, £12.50 per session.  

Wildlife Art will be a series of projects looking at species groups - mammals, birds, reptiles, insects or amphibians - alongside different media and techniques. 
Thursdays, 10:15-13:15, £15 per session. 

Life Studies will use both short and long poses to look at shape, form, tone, texture and movement. There will also be a clothed and costume section to the course.
Thursdays, 14:15-16:45, £12.50 + Model costs per session.

Please contact Roz directly to book your place on any of these courses.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

BlueSkyInking (art)

I discovered BlueSkyInking by chance last Saturday. I visited Something Literary in the Enterprise Centre, a friendly independent shop which stocks unusual gifts and cards for readers and writers. The shop recently moved to Eastbourne from Steyning and Gina, the owner, is keen to meet other local literary-minded types.
Oscar Wilde ceramic tile

The BlueSkyInking cards are on the till-side of the shop, above the shelves of second-hand books. The images are quotes from famous historical authors (the one I bought was Oscar Wilde) illustrated with a humorous depictions of the characters speaking. All are the work of professional illustrator Liz Monahan and are designed and hand-drawn in her Norwich studio.

tE: How did you start your art career?
LM: I studied illustration at Bournemouth & Poole College of Art & Design for four years, after which I found myself an agent and started receiving publishing commissions. I have been working as an illustrator for 20 years and am currently signed with Plum Pudding Illustration.
tE: And what inspired your current literary-based work?
Creating a scene from 'Emma'
LM: My passion for reading and books has never subsided and whilst working as an illustrator, I also studied for a degree in English Literature at university. I wrote my final year thesis on Jane Austen’s work, so I’m very familiar with her novels and characters. I first opened BlueSkyInking in 2010, offering mostly animal cartoons and assorted historical and literary character illustrations. Since then BlueSkyInking has undergone several reincarnations to emerge as the shop it is now, honing in on literary themed artwork, prints and cards. The Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton also stocks my prints and cards, and just recently, Something Literary, too.

tE: Is Jane Austen your favourite author?
Pride & Prejudice ceramic tile
LM: Although Austen is my favourite author, I love all the classics because they offer such a rich source of characters, wonderful stories, beautiful use of language, and they merit re-reading with fresh eyes and new interpretations. I think these books also appeal to our desire to return to a bygone age, whilst still exploring recognisably modern themes and human concerns.

BlueSkyInking greeting cards are available at Something Literary in the Enterprise Centre.
If you are not so local, Liz Monahan has an online Etsy shop and also has her own blog when she showcases and talks about her work.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

3 Daft Monkeys (music)

The big folk gig at Eastbourne Bandstand last summer was the delicious Seth Lakeman (yes, a bit of a crush!) who played two stomping sets. The venue is perfect for 'energetic folk' with plenty of room for dancing and a festival-type vibe from being outdoors!

This August, the equivalent band will be 3 Daft Monkeys. Their exhuberant shows have made them a popular band on the festival circuit and their well-crafted songs have drawn acclaim from the likes of 'Whispering' Bob Harris, Jo Whiley and Mike Harding. Also, they were winners of Best Live Act at the Hancock Awards 2011 and the Spiral Earth Awards 2011.

The band is Tim Ashton on Vocals, 12-String Guitar, Whistle and Foot Drum; Athene Roberts on Violin & Vocals; and Lukas Drinkwater on Bass Guitar & Backing Vocals. Lukas is a recent addition to the line-up as is the return of Richie Mulryne on percussion. Their most recent album, The Antiquated & The Arcane, draws heavily on their experiences gained through live performances and on the road, and was recorded in an authentic live studio setting.

Eastbourne Bandstand, Sun 26th Aug, 20:00 - 21:30.
Advance Adult ticket £15, child £10.
On-the-door Adult ticket £18, child £12.
Tickets available from the Seafront Office, online or by calling 01323 410611.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Moscow State Circus

The Circus is coming to town from the 2nd to the 7th of August when the Moscow State Circus sets up camp on Five Acres Field.

Inspired by the legend of 'The 12 Chairs', their new show, Babushkin Sekret' is the largest and most spectacular to date. A large cast of Russian performers, some of whom have never performed in Britain before, will be housed in a specially designed chapiteau Big Top. 

The clowns, Valik and Valerik, link the show with their buffoons quest to discover the whereabouts of the '12 chairs' and the treasure hidden within them. Other performers include the beautiful Yana Alievia on a revolving Ariel Chandelier, the juggling Sherbakovs on the reverse pyramid of St Petersburg, the Doktrov gracefully flying & spiraling in the apex of the auditorium, the unbelievable vertical pole balancing of the Alikanov, and the high flying bouncing bamboo bravados of the Perushkins. Plus the breathtaking Stalkions who are three men and two women who walk, back flip and perform unbelievable pyramids thirty feet in the air on the legendary High Wire, and the Whirlwind Rubsovsm troupe who will acrobatically catapult themselves right across and high into the air at breakneck speed.

Five Acres Field, Thu 2nd to Tue 2nd Aug, two shows daily (one show Thu) check website for details and prices or call 07721 565558.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Gillian Toft (artist)

 I first spotted Gillian Toft's work at the Da Vinci Hotel & Art Gallery which is in Howard Square, just off the seafront. The Grade II listed building features pieces by local artists throughout the downstairs reception rooms and the public are welcome to pop in and view the art from 10:00 to 17:00 daily. Obviously, if you choose to stay at the Da Vinci, you can see the art at any time! 

Gillian's contribution to the exhibition was several paintings from her 'Memories of the Sea' series, painted in oils and acrylics. I particularly liked the detail that she included and the brighter than life colours. The aspects of Eastbourne's beach that she sees - the pebbles and groynes - can appear drab and dull in everyday life, but become beautiful when viewed through her eyes.

Gillian both lives and works in Eastbourne. She has always loved drawing and painting and studied Fine Art & Italian at Exeter University. This experience led her to work and teach in Italy for six years. Since her return to Britain, Gillian has worked as a professional illustrator with commissions including publishers such as the Oxford University Press, Collins. Ginn and the Scripture Union. 

She has also continued to teach art locally and currently runs an Art Group on Thursday mornings at St Saviour's church hall (on the junction of South Street and Spencer Road). The group is taking a summer break on the 26th of July and the 2nd of August but will continue on the 9th August. Please contact Gillian directly if you would like to join the group. There may also be a watercolour painting class reforming at the Da Vinci Hotel on Thursday afternoons from September if enough interest is shown. Again, please contact Gillian directly for details.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Kevin Barber, Mark Taylor & Amy Reed (music)

I am almost sure I saw Kevin Barber and Mark Taylor at the Royal Oak folk club in Lewes, but it was at least ten years ago and my memory is a bit hazy. If it was them, I can confidently say they are excellent. If it wasn't, then whoever I did see were great but I'll have to base the rest of this post on listening to the recorded music from their website

The Brighton-based duo will be playing the coffee morning slot at the Underground Theatre on Saturday the 30th of March, where they will also be joined by fiddle player Amy Reed. They perform acoustic roots music from many traditions but particularly Americana songs. Kevin Barber plays guitar and mandolin and is a veteran of the folk scene. Mark Taylor is quite the multi-instrumentalist playing guitar, banjo, mandolin, dobro, harmonica, ukelele, melodica, stylophone. You'll have to wait and see how many will make their appearance at the Underground! Both men sing and have perfected the beautiful Americana harmonies. Expect to hear some classic songs as well as original compositions.

Barber and Taylor have recorded six albums, the latest of which is from 2010 and is entitled Pilgrim's Postcard.

Underground Theatre, Sat 18th Aug, 10:00 - 12:00.
Free admission.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Alan Hammond Literary Lunch

I have only visited the elegant Langham Hotel once so far, for an Afternoon Tea organised by the Friends of The Devonshire Park Theatre. There was a guest speaker, journalist Tony Flood, a very interesting presentation of a (then) new play, Swimming At The Ritz, and the delicious Tea complete with the most amazing scones!

Next Friday, the 20th of July, the Langham will be the venue for a Literary Lunch, hosted by author Paul James. The guest speaker will be author Alan Hammond, father of Top Gear's Richard Hammond. Alan will be talking about his new book, 'All's Fair In Love And Law' which was published by Orion Books in 2011. Alan worked as a legal executive in North Yorkshire and his experiences during this time form the basis of his book of gentle tales of English rural life.

Set in a traditional firm of country solicitors in the town of Hockam (pronounced Hokum), 'All's Fair In Love & Law' is a heart-warming collection of stories revolving around the lives, relationships, triumphs and failures of the good people of the town and of the lawyers to whom they look for help: Dufty, Dufty, Popple & Dunn.

The Literary Lunch includes a glass of bubbly on arrival, a three course lunch with wine and coffee, a talk from the author, a Q&A session, and a book signing.

Langham Hotel, Fri 20th July, £17. 
Booking essential: 01323 731451.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Leaf Hall Arts Festival

Leaf Hall is a community arts facility on Seaside. The historic building looks remarkably like a church but I'm told it was actually built as a Working Men's Hall by the Victorian philanthropist William Leaf. There are a variety of art, theatre and dance activities going on throughout the year, but the organisers have really gone to town for duration of their two week Arts Festival.

I have already blogged about the My Eastbourne Photography Competition. If any readers have entered their work, do let us know in the Comments below! Entrants' work will be displayed throughout the Festival with the public invited to vote for their favourite. At the end, the winning photograph will be professionally framed.

Music events at the festival include the Tricky Beats African Music Night on Saturday the 21st July and the Bourne To Sing Choir on Friday the 3rd August. You can be part of the Rhythmfire Community Drum Circle on the afternoon of the 21st of July or join West End performer Helen Ward Jackson for an hour of singing on the evening of Monday the 23rd July. 

If practical art is more your thing, there is a clay Lighthouse workshop on the 24th of July. Alternatively, you can make a Garden Collage on the 26th of July or fish from recycled materials on the 2nd of August.

Local artists will be showing their work throughout the festival. Oceanic art by Tania Long and silk painting by Helen Warren, sculpture by Heidi Westgate and Sheena Bourn's colourful pier paintings amongst others.

There is a great pdf file on the Leaf Hall website giving full details of all the artists, events and activities on offer so download it and pop along to have a look!

Leaf Hall, Sat 21st July - Sun 5th Aug.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Christine Chester (textile artist)

Roz Nathan & Christine Chester
 Christine Chester is an award-winning textile artist who has just opened a brand new studio space, Studio Eleven, in the Old Print Works, Wharf Road, in partnership with wildlife painter, Roz Nathan. I popped along to the launch last Saturday afternoon to meet Christine and Roz and view the Studio.

Studio Eleven is a large, airy space with opening windows along two walls. There are ten tables, each two metres long, and the plan is for each student to have a table to themselves. I was told that this amount of space is quite unusual - the nearest comparable facility being in Surrey. The tables can also be moved around easily allowing total flexibility for both Christine's textile courses and Roz's Drawing & Painting courses (more about Roz in another blog soon!).

Studio Eleven
Christine has been exhibiting both nationally and internationally since 1996 and works with quilting, embroidery and printing. You might have seen her work entitled 'Fading' at the Towner Gallery earlier this year. Inspired by Christine's father, a third-generation local fisherman, the quilt shows the man in his heyday at the same time as he was sadly he was sliding into dementia. Christine used vintage photographs taken by her mother to create the work and help her to deal with her own sense of loss. Understanding memory and loss is an important part of her own body of work. 'Fragmented Networks' was included in an eighteen month tour of Europe and 'War Torn' featured in the acCent exhibition of British Quilt Art at the National Quilt Museum in Kentucky, USA!

Having taught aspects of textile art at Sussex Downs College for several years, this year will see Christine beginning to offer two- and four-day workshops for small groups at her studio. She specialises in teaching all types of stitched, printed, dyed and constructed textiles. There are three workshops planned for July and August (descriptions below) with further once-a-month classes beginning in September.
Beaded Amulet Purses is a two-day workshop in which students will design and make their own beautiful amulet purse, learning bead weaving with the needle. Beads will be provided but you can also take your own if you prefer.
Wed 18th & Thu 19th July, 10:00 - 16:00, £85.

Tie Dye Mini Quilt is a four-day workshop where students will learn a variety of skills. They will begin with dyeing fabric with different styles of tie resist bucket dyeing, then design a small throw or large cushion. They can then use their dyed fabrics to cut, piece, quilt and finish their item.
Mon 30th & Tue 31st of July and Mon 6th & Tue 7th of August, 10:00 - 16:00, £175.

Beginnings In Goldwork is also a four-day workshop which will introduce some of the basic techniques in metal thread work and also allow students to try some of the more experimental approaches. At the end of the course, students will have applied their newly-learned skills to work a small sampler.
Thu 2nd & Fri 3rd and Thu 9th & Fri 10th August, 10:00 - 16:00, £160 plus £10 for materials.

For more information or to book your workshop place, please contact Christine directly through her website http://www.studio11eb.co.uk/

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Denis Primett (music)

The Belgian Cafe on Grand Parade is a fine a la carte restaurant, famed for its seafood dishes, which also hosts regular live music. Usually weekly on Friday nights, but with an occasional Sunday afternoon performance, the various musicians tend towards jazz and experimental styles, providing the perfect relaxed sound to accompany your meal. Admission is free and you can either have a meal or just drinks while you listen. However, the Cafe have told me that booking is strongly advised because the Fridays are very popular.

A regular performer at the Cafe is popular jazz saxophonist musician Denis Primett. As well as alto saxophone, he occasionally plays flute and his classic jazz repertoire is influenced by the sound of the American West Coast of the 1950s and 1960s. Similar to the Cool Style, the West Coast musicians often played without a piano or guitar for rhythm and included more unusual instruments such as French horns and tuba. Primett's sound has been likened to that of Paul Desmond, the alto saxophonist who joined Dave Brubeck's quartet in the early 1950s. Desmond wrote and played saxophone on the famous 1959 hit, Take Five.

The Belgian Cafe, Mon 1st April 2013, 13:30.
Fri 12th April 2013, 19:30.
Pop in or call 01323 729967 to book.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Theatre Open Day

The Devonshire Park Theatre will be opening its doors to all and sundry on Sunday the 15th of July when the Friends of The Devonshire Park host their annual Theatre Open Day.

The lovely Grade II listed building was built in 1884 and was designed by Henry Currey. It was renovated and improved by the famous theatre architect Frank Matcham in 1903 and is now one of the best examples of a small Victorian theatre in the UK. It is also has one of the smallest stages on the tour circuit which can create interesting challenges when new productions arrive!

I attended the open day two years ago and the Friends had arranged displays of lots of historical information about the theatre in the foyer. There was also a corridor-length display about the creation of the fantastic Safety Curtain. It included some of the original drawings and hopefully these will make a reappearance in July. I also joined one of the tours which was a fascinating experience. I particularly remember standing on the rake stage and being surprised at just how steep that slope is. You'll be even more impressed at how dancers cope at the Devonshire in the future, especially if they're also wearing heels!

Devonshire Park Theatre, Sun 15th Jul, 10:00 - 15:00.
Free admission.

Backstage Tours £3 per person to include tea/coffee (under 12s free).
Tours will run at 45 minute intervals throughout the day. First tour at 10:15, last at 14:00.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

The Bugle Boy (theatre)

The Bugle Boy is the hit West End musical that tells the story of the American jazz musician, trombonist and band leader, Alton Glenn Miller.
Written by the English playwright Den Stevenson, the musical traces the life of Miller from the end of his college days in the 1920s, through his time searching America for his definitive band sound, joining the US Army, touring the UK to lift the morale of the troops, and finally to his mysterious disappearance whilst travelling to France.

Bugle Boy blends history with entertainment and, judging from the website, I think the musical will have a similar feel to Buddy, which came to the Congress last year, in that the story is swept along by lots (and lots) of musical numbers. There are twenty-six familiar songs in all, including Pennsyvania 6-5000, Chattanooga Choo Choo, Little Brown Jug and, of course, In The Mood. Plus we have been promised a 16-piece band playing live on stage so it will be fun to see how they all fit on the Devonshire Park stage!

Devonshire Park Theatre, Tue 17th - Sat 28th Jul, 19:45.
Wed & Sat matinees, 14:30. No performances on Sun or Mon.
Various ticket prices. See Eastbourne Theatres website for details.