Friday, 30 November 2012

Into The Ark (art)

Cockerel by Sarah Young
I last visited the Emma Mason Gallery in October for HomeGrown which was themed to coincide with the start of the Towner's Collective Observations exhibition. Now, as part of the Eastbourne Christmas Open Houses 2012, Emma Mason has collected together original prints which include animals. Entitled "Into the Ark", this new exhibition will be on from Saturday 24th November until Christmas including the two Sundays of the Open Houses weekends: the 25th November and the 2nd December. 

There are framed and unframed works, a varied range of greetings cards (two of which are illustrating this post), some printed tea-towels which are far to pretty to ever be used, and a selection of gorgeous handmade walking sticks. The prints are linocuts, lithographs, screenprints and woodcuts and it is very interesting to see the different styles of image that these methods produce. Towards the back of the Gallery there is also a table of print-making gifts, perhaps for arty friends. As well as various stamp sets and coloured ink pads, there are beginners' lino-cutting sets that would be ideal for my niece if only she were several years older already!

Deer by Mark Hearld
Artists whose work is on show include Trevor Kemp and Sarah Young, Mark Hearld and Robert Tavener. Trevor Kemp's work is rurally inspired, pictures of sheep and cows. Sarah Young is a Brighton-based artist who is the founder of the Brighton Art Fair and the city's Art and Craft Fair, MADE. Mark Hearld is inspired by the flora and fauna of the British countryside. He studied illustration at Glasgow College of Art and then went on to complete an MA in Natural History Illustration at the Royal College of Art. Robert Tavener is a favourite at the Gallery. A local man, he was Head of Printmaking at Eastbourne College of Art and Design for many years.

Emma Mason Gallery, Sat 24th Nov to Sat 22nd Dec
Open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 10:00-17:00.
Sun 24th Nov and Sun 2nd Dec, 10:00-17:00.
Free admission.  

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Dracula (theatre)

Bram Stoker's gothic tale of terror, Dracula, is being played out at Eastbourne College next week, performed by students from every year group. The new and faithful script adaptation has been written by the college's own playwright, Paul Turner, with Tim Marriott who was one of the driving forces behind the powerful environmental drama Snared earlier this year. The Dracula set has been partly designed and created by Laura who also worked on Snared.

It is 1897. A new century approaches. High in the Carpathian mountains an ancient legend is buried. But the dark is rising. Across Europe, the shadows lengthen. The Count is coming …
“I am the monster that breathing men would kill.
I am Dracula… and my revenge has just begun”

There are two seating options being offered for Dracula. £10 per person will get you a cafe-style seat with goulash and blood red wine served by candlelight. Formal dining attire is optional and encouraged. Dining numbers are limited and I am not sure if this option will still available for all performances.
£5 per person buys a gallery seat only.

Eastbourne College Theatre, Tue 4th - Sat 8th Dec, 19:30.
Tickets £10, £5, available by calling 01323 452255 or emailing

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Christine Munro (artist)

by Christine Munro
I caught glimpses of the new art exhibition at the Underground Theatre when we attended the excellent The Dressing Book last week although the works were not officially on show until the Friday. All the paintings are again exclusively by one artist - Society of Eastbourne Artists member Christine Munro - and they are a very different proposition from those previously shown by David Armitage.

An artist of some thirty years standing, Christine specialises in oils with an occasional foray into pastels or watercolours. She is inspired by the natural world and chooses to paint close detailed works of trees and plants as well as wider seascapes and landscapes. Her Eastbourne garden is also the source of several of her paintings.

Tall Trees and Rock are two of the first paintings visible as you descend the staircase to the exhibition space. They are nice examples of Christine's observations and I particularly liked the composition of Rock which makes for an unusual scene. Light on the River is also in this section and this painting uses squares of colour to give the impression of light through dense foliage behind the river. Honesty is eyecatching because the delicate seed pods are depicted against a dark background so the detail and colours really stand out.

Across the other side of the foyer are several images of birds including a Coot and Waxwings, as well as two paintings of Puffins which reminded me of our recent week in Iceland - definitely worth a holiday if you're into dramatic scenery! Christine's Puffins have wonderfully inquisitive expressions. Turn your back on the birds to see three dramatic water-inspired paintings in strong blue and green colours. Also here is, I think, my favourite painting entitled Solitude. This shows a lone dog heading across a wide open space towards a line of trees. I am not sure if the ground is snow or simply indistinct but I found myself wondering at the story behind the painting for several minutes.

Underground Theatre, Fridays and Saturdays, 23rd Nov to 29th Dec, 10:00-16:00.
Free admission.
Also on show to patrons during UGT evening events.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Hard Times (theatre)

Just when you might have thought the rush of 200th anniversary Dickens events had subsided, possibly the last one of the year hoves into view in the shape of Cambridge Touring Theatre's Nick Ellis who will be performing his one man show of Hard Times at Herstmonceux Castle in the middle of December.

Nick is an enthusiastic fan of Charles Dickens and particularly of the novel Hard Times. His theatre project first began as fifty gouache and line paintings for an Illustrated Hard Times book that he created and published. Those paintings now also form the basis of the handmade animation which backs Nick's performance, together with his own musical compositions. He becomes the many voices of Dickens' characters as he tells their story over ninety minutes.

Written in 1854, Hard Times is still as reflective of our contemporary society as the National's Timon Of Athens was a few weeks ago. The story is set in the fictitious Coketown, a generic Northern English mill town (perhaps based on Preston) where the mill owners are getting richer and richer at the expense of their badly treated workers who are forced into poverty. Dickens had visited factories in Manchester in the late 1830s and been horrified by the conditions workers endured. This novel was the "heaviest blow in my power" against the inhumanity of the mills.

Herstmonceux Castle, Sun 16th Dec, 19:30.
Tickets £15 (£12 concessions), available by calling 01323 834479.

Pre-performance Christmas Dinner also to be offered with the chance to meet Nick Ellis after the show. Call 01323 834479 for further details of this option.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Andy Dickens Band (music)

More Dickens! But not of the literary sort this time.

There will be a debut performance at the Underground Theatre in December as jazz trumpeter and flugel horn player Andy Dickens visits the venue for the first time. He will be joined by Craig Milverton on piano, Tim Huskisson on clarinet, Brett Neville on bass and Rod Brown on drums.

Born in Birmingham, Andy began playing trumpet at the age of 14 and is mostly a self-taught musician. He has now been playing jazz for over 25 years and tours extensively in the UK, across Europe and the Middle East. His performances blend a mix of styles from New Orleans to Miles Davis, via ballads and popular standards, with a large part of the work focusing on the pre-bop era. Comparisons have been drawn with Roy Eldridge, Lips Page and Clark Terry. Previous Underground performer Alan Barnes described his sextet as "a swinging and eclectic band".

Underground Theatre, Fri 14th Dec, 20:00.
Tickets £11 (£10 concessions), available online, by calling 0845 680 1926, or in person at the Underground Theatre and the Tourist Information Office.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Christmas at the Bandstand (music)

A longstanding tradition continues this Christmas with the trio of free concerts at the Bandstand on Eastbourne seafront. The New Year's Day concert is a popular new addition and this is only its second occurence, but the Christmas Day and Boxing Day concerts have been going since 1935, the year the Bandstand opened. If anyone has any photos of the original concerts, it would be great to see them - please post links in the Comments below.

This year, the Christmas day concert will be performed by Eastbourne Silver Band and both the Boxing Day and New Year's Day concerts will be the Ray Campbell Dance Band. All three concerts are early lunchtime affairs and, if you get to the Boxing Day one, you might even spot some idiots brave souls taking the waters with a dip in the sea! Hundreds of people tear themselves away from their TVs each year to join the festivities so make sure you get there early to secure yourself a good spot.

Eastbourne Silver Band are an amateur noncompeting band based, unsurprisingly, in Eastbourne. They rehearse on Thursday nights at St John's in Meads and are always happy to meet potential new members. The band was formed in 1950 by a group of ex-service bandsmen and, with the help of the Borough Council, became one of the most successful bands in the South. They traditionally perform the Easter Bandstand concert that opens the Summer Season each year as well as the Christmas Day concert.

The Ray Campbell Dance Band are also Eastbourne based. They play showtunes and classic dance songs and will probably have dusted off a few seasonal favourites for the occasion too.

Eastbourne Bandstand, Tue 25th Dec, 10:45-12:15.
Wed 26th Dec + Tue 1st Jan, 11:00-12:30.
Free admission.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Sleeping Beauty (theatre)

Eastbourne's annual Christmas Pantomime is nearly upon us again and, this year, we can look forward to the traditional favourite, Sleeping Beauty. A world away from the delicate Russian ballet of the same name that will be gracing the Congress at the beginning of December, I am sure we can expect plenty of fun and silliness at the Devonshire Park.

Eastbourne's favourite dame, Martyn Knight, is returning to the Devonshire stage for an amazing ninth consecutive year in the role. Bernie Nolan is bracing herself for your hisses as she will play the evil fairy Carabosse - I discovered that she first performed in Eastbourne 34 years ago in a summer season at the Devonshire with Ronnie Corbett! - and the beautiful Sleeping Beauty will be played by Sasha Wareham. 

The evil fairy Carabosse is furious when she does not receive an invite to the Royal Christening. In revenge, she curses the baby Princess Belle to prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die, but a good fairy changes the curse so Belle will only fall asleep - but she will sleep for 100 years and can only be awakened by a kiss from a handsome Prince!

Devonshire Park Theatre, Thu 13th Dec to Sun 13th Jan, various times & prices.
Tickets available online, by calling 01323 412000, or in person at the Box Office and the Tourist Information Office.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Jasmin Stringer (artist)

Jasmin Stringer at the Art Expo
I met Polegate artist Jasmin Stringer when she had a stall at the Terminus Road Art Expo earlier this month. Having always lived in Sussex, Jasmin appreciates being close to both the South Downs and the Seaside and a number of her paintings feature the iconic views of Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters. Bright oil paintings of flowers, particularly daisies, sunflowers and poppies are another of her specialities. Her favourite flowers are poppies "because they always make me smile". She also creates tiny canvas on easel paintings which are great fun, and has recently got back into lino cutting. I bought a couple of her lino print cards that caught my eye at the Expo. Several cards have an adorable owl theme and I couldn't resist the red nosed Rudolf. He looks as if he is about to go sliding on the ice and I hope that my little niece will love him too!

Jasmin is one half of Sussex Art Studio,
the other half being metal artist Mark Stringer and you can see examples of both their works on their Facebook page. Jasmin will be out and about twice more at art and craft fairs before Christmas - details below - so you can snap up greeting cards or gifts! And I have also spotted her work in the window of The Polegate Cafe (opposite the One-Stop).

Polegate Art Group Exhibition, St John's Church, Polegate, Sat 1st Dec, 9:00-13:00.
Christmas Craft Fair, St Anthony Hall, Eastbourne,10:00-14:00. 

Lino print cards by Jasmin Stringer

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Andy Drudy (music)

Guitarist Andy Drudy will be in the limelight at Chapter 12 at the end of November as he makes his debut at their Tuesday Music Night. Seaford resident Andy is a 'seasoned' musician who has been playing professionally for over thirty years. He is also a keen cyclist who, having completed Lands End to John O'Groats in eleven days, looked around for a slightly bigger challenge and ended up cycling across America - twice!

His solo EP was released in July this year under the name The Andy Drudy Disorder on the Splash Point label - also the home of Liane Carroll and Ian Shaw. Having been involved with other musicians' projects in the past, The Blues Civilisation is entirely his own. As he says in an interview with The Peverett Phile, "I did not have anything to say up till now" which I think is an admirable sentiment and a strong reason to record. Andy wrote the songs for The Blues Civilisation over a number of years and says that they are not all typically blues songs. His influences appear to be more blues influenced musicians than pure blues itself and he cites men such as Ritchie Blackmore and Tom Waits, and the bands Steely Dan and Led Zeppelin.

Old Boot Inn, Seaford, Fri 23rd Nov, (with the Allstars).
Chapter 12 Wine Bar, Hailsham, Tue 27th Nov, 19:30.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Holy Motors (film)

I've been aware of Holy Motors for a couple of months but it wasn't until I saw the trailer before Untouchable last week that I started to seriously consider it. I think the poster art has been putting me off. However, as I have just discovered this will be the Hailsham Film Club screening for December, I've had second thoughts. In the several years we've been going to their screenings, there's only been one film that I really didn't 'get' (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives), so I'm happy to trust their judgement!

Written and directed by Leos Carax, Holy Motors was originally intended to be a big-budget film in English but investors were difficult to come by so Carax scaled-down his plans including the cheaper digital filming system. Holy Motors is now a French-German production with its dialogue in French, English, Chinese and Merdogon. The character of Mr Oscar was specifically written for Carax's regular collaborator Denis Lavant and the film also stars Edith Scob, Eva Mendes, Michel Piccoli and Kylie Minogue. Reviewers are describing it as everything from 'enigmatic' to 'barking mad' but, so far, all the comments I've seen have been positive.

Holy Motors begins as Le Dormeur (Leos Carax) awakes and wanders through a secret doorway from his apartment to a cinema during the screening of a film. At the same time, Mr Oscar (Denis Lavant) is driven to work in a white limousine where he acts in a variety of scenarios including a deathbed melodrama, a gangster film, and a musical with Kylie Minogue.

Hailsham Pavilion, Tue 11th Dec, 19:45.
Tickets £6.50 (£5 concessions), available online, by calling 01323 841414 or in person at the Box Office.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Cow Pie (art)

The new exhibition at the Berwick gallery Until The Cows Come Home is entitled Cow Pie. It showcases the work of screenprinter John Patrick Reynolds who is almost singlehandedly dragging vintage British comic illustrations up to iconic art status. Reynolds' work features such memorable characters as Desperate Dan, Popeye, Oor Wullie and Dennis The Menace. Reynolds describes Dennis as 'a gift to the screenprinter' because his spiky black hair and red-and-black jumper make for dramatic pictures and this is certainly true of the eyecatching display at UTCCH.

The original publishers of the images, D C Thomson, are fully behind the project and have opened their archives to Reynolds. The resulting limited edition prints have been shown in galleries across Britain and caused quite a stir. They even got articles on the BBC News website and in the Observer. One of the prints in the UTCCH exhibition is signed by the most recent of the three Dennis The Menace artists, David Sutherland. This image is of nine Dennises together, Warhol-style, with, as gallery owner Amanda pointed out, eight looking in one direction and the ninth image reversed.

UTCCH is trialling later opening times for the duration of Cow Pie, remaining open until 7pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays until Christmas. So if your journey home takes you over the Drusillas roundabout, make a quick detour towards Alfriston and check them out! There is car parking on site. For daylight visits, they are a pleasant 30 minute walk from Berwick railway station but only about two-thirds of the route is on pavement/cycle path. The bit in the middle has grass verge which is fine for sure-footed adults but could be awkward with younger children. (If anyone knows which local govt. office should receive a whingy email about cycle path provision, please let me know!)

Until The Cows Come Home, Fri 9th Nov - Mon 24th Dec.
Sun/Mon 14:00-17:00, Wed/Thu 14:00-19:00, Fri/Sat 11:00-17:00.
Free admission.

Look out for the red cow!

Monday, 19 November 2012

The Big Jazz (music)

The Big Jazz at Ardingly College
Trombonist Duncan J Reeks has got together a group of skilled professional jazz and swing musicians who perform together under the umbrella of The Big Jazz. In demand by such varied organisations as David Lloyd, the Redoubt Fortress, Forest Row Jazz Club and Chillisauce Events, they also have regular nights playing at Eastbourne's Cavendish Hotel on the seafront where both hotel guests and non-residents are welcome to go along and listen. The next one starts around 8pm tomorrow and there are another four chances to hear them, including New Year's Eve.

Duncan, who first began playing trombone at the age of 14, is joined by saxophone guru Pete Cornish, trumpeter and horn player Mike Nichols, keyboard player & piano man Dave Barrett, bass player Wayne Windmill and drummer Drew Brook-Mellor. Vocalist Georgie Fellows also sometimes joins the ensemble. She trained at Laine Theatre Arts which is coincidentally the same school as Eastbourne Theatres' Sleeping Beauty this year, Sasha Wareham! The Big Jazz repertoire ranges from jazz standards by Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis and Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, to swing from Count Basie and Duke Ellington, and more contemporary music by the likes of Bill Withers to Amy Winehouse.

Cavendish Hotel, Tue 20th and Wed 28th Nov, Wed 5th, Wed 26th and Tue 31st Dec, 20:00.
Contact the Cavendish Hotel online or by calling 01323 410222.  
All the evenings are open to the public but you'll need to have a ticket for New Year's Eve.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Tango Pasion (dance)

Photo by Anja Beutler
For One Night Only! To celebrate their 20th anniversary, the Argentinian dance spectacular Tango Pasion is embarking upon a tour of nearly 100 shows across 12 European countries - and one of these shows is in our very own Congress Theatre

The work actually began ten years earlier when Mel Howard and Jose Libertella decided to create a new and innovative dance show. Accompanied by choreographer Hector Zaraspe and painter Ricardo Carpani, they spent many months in Buenos Aires uncovering all the different stories of the tango and putting together an amazing cast of dancers. The current two-hour show is an emotional journey through 100 years of Argentina's native dance with music by many famous tango composers including Carlos Gardel and Astor Piazzolla.

The Tango Pasion dancers are six couples: Osvaldo Ciliento with Graciela Garcia, Marcos Ayala with Paola Camacho, Alejandro Andrian with Lida Mantovani, Leandro Gomez with Carolina Giannini, Marcelo Bernadaz with Silvia Fuentes, Silvana Carolina Allievi with Mariano Balois. They are also bringing their own musicians, the Tango Pasion Sextet directed by Gabriel Merlino and including Pablo Estigarribia, Jorge Orlando Ines Rojas, Katharina Landsberg, Marc Antonio Fernandez, Jose Maria Taulamet.

Congress Theatre, Fri 30th Nov, 19:30.
Tickets various prices, available online, by calling 01323 412000, or in person at the Box Office and the Tourist Information Office.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Andre Rieu Home For Christmas (music)

Huge thanks to Jasmin Stringer of Sussex Art Studio for the head's up that prompted this post - the event had completely slipped under my (apparently not so) finely tuned radar!

Famed Dutch violinist Andre Rieu is playing an atmospheric Christmas Concert in his hometown of Maastricht and the magnificent event is being broadcast to 175 cinemas across Europe - including Cineworld Eastbourne. The date is Saturday the 24th November. Rieu will take part in a live Q + A session with fans via satellite prior to the concert which will be performed in his seasonally decorated garden and in the Saint Pieter Church, just across the road. Now you might not think that someone playing a violin in his garden would be worth a continent-spanning cinema broadcast, but Rieu owns a romantic medieval castle! 

Supporting Rieu will be his own Johann Strauss Orchestra as well as The Royal Choir Society Mastreechter Staar, The Sjamaes Children's Choir and 10 year old ballerina Rosa. The two hour concert will include twenty-six holiday classics ranging from "Ave Maria" to "White Christmas". There will be snow, a horse-drawn sleigh, lights and tinsel, probably a roaring log fire, and Rieu even gets to meet Santa Claus!

Cineworld, Sat 24th Nov, 16:30.
Tickets £13.50 (£11.50 concessions). Available online, by calling 0871 200 2000 or in person at the Ticket Office.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Francis Perry Gallery (art)

Before heading to the Art Expo on Saturday, I finally took the opportunity to visit a gallery about which I have heard several positive reports over the past few months. The Francis Perry Gallery on Susan's Road is now just over one year old, having celebrated its first anniversary in October. Owned by Jill Francis and Philip Perry, it is a friendly place - almost cosy with its current array of Christmassy wares - and not at all intimidating! Jill told me that their aim was to create a 'destination shop', somewhere people would feel comfortable popping in to just browse and chat.

The Gallery showcases all kinds of items from greetings cards to large paintings, ceramics, jewellery, glass and sculpture. They actively support local artists from Sussex and Kent, including some based in Eastbourne: I saw a number of works by Sonya Tatham, including the beautiful 'Honesty', and a large painting by Corina Stupu Thomas called 'Breakout'. Several mixed media seascapes by Leila Godden are to the left as you enter the Gallery and dotted around are fantasy works by a new young artist, Victoria Brook, who the Gallery are very proud to be supporting. I found her paintings to be evocative of the Philip Pullman 'His Dark Materials' books which I recently listened on audio, and I particularly loved her picture entitled 'The Library' which I think is Gormenghast-y. 

Jeweller Jill Perry is getting into the seasonal spirit by making Christmas cards. Ranging from bright traditional red colours to an elegant black & gold one, the cards are all unique and are very reasonably priced. For house decor, there are also delightful glass crib tea light holders which have been made by Jeannette Willingale and, in jewellery, the Gallery has the most beautiful and delicate robin pendant from Hastings jeweller Joy Funnell.

I think I may well be able to tick off a few items on my Christmas gift list here and the Gallery will certainly become one of my favourite haunts for birthday ideas in the coming year!

Francis Perry Gallery, Mon-Sat 10:00-17:00.
Free admission.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Ladri di biciclette (film)

Hailsham Film Club is presenting a 'nostalgia' film from 1948 at the beginning of December. Italian film Ladri di biciclette (Bicycle Thieves) was directed by Vittorio De Sica and comes very highly recommended: it received an Academy Honorary Award in 1950, was called 'the best film of all time' by Sight & Sound magazine in 1952, and is also in the top ten of the British Film Institute's list of films you should see by the age of 14 - so I might have left it a teeny bit late then!

Now considered a masterpiece of Italian neorealism, at the time De Sica had to raise money from his friends to make Ladri di biciclette. All the filming was done on location with no studio work and De Sica used only non-actors. The story is loosely based on a novel by Luigi Bartolini and was adapted for the film by Cesare Zavattini.

In post-war Rome, Antonio Ricci (Lamberto Maggiorani) is trying to find work to support his family, His is offered a job but cannot accept as he has no transport. His wife, Maria (Lianella Carell), pawns the linen that was her dowry in order to buy him a bicycle and the couple are temporarily able to celebrate a change in their fortunes. However, on Antonio's first day, while he is up a ladder working, a young man (Vittorio Antonucci) steals his bicycle and he is unable to catch the thief. Antonio and his young son Bruno (Enzo Staiola) search Rome all day, trying to find the young man and the bicycle, but without success. Finally, the desperate Antonio sends his son home and resorts to theft himself.

Hailsham Pavilion, Tue 4th Dec, 19:45.
Tickets £6.50 (£5 concessions). Available online, by calling 01323 841414, or in person at the Box Office.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Early Ghost (music)

I was delighted to re-discover Early Ghost while researching the Towner's Night Folk: Embrace The Dark event happening later this month. Having enjoyed their set when they supported the brilliant Beirut at the Winter Garden in 2010 (was it really that long ago?) I recognised their distinctive sound and bought their debut album, Cadaques. 

Formed in 2009, Early Ghost have already shared stages with names such as First Aid Kit, Sea Of Bees and the aforementioned Beirut. The six-piece band is based along the South Coast and comprises of Sam Allen, Hugh Aynsley, Zoe Brownrigg, Karl Fitzgerald, Mike O'Malley and Sam Watson. They play an unusual blend of folk and western music fused with a variety of cultural influences. I saw it described as spaghetti-folk on their Facebook page and this is a pretty accurate moniker. I've picked up on both a Spanish and an Mexican vibe, and there are also strong English folk roots in the mix.

Cadaques, named after a small town on the Spanish coast, was released in September 2012 and the artwork on the cover is by the multi-talented Karl Fitzgerald. It is available to purchase from Bandcamp as either a CD or by digital download, and is also on Spotify and iTunes.
I've been listening to my new download on on the bus for the past few days and the album is definitely feel-good music. Even the slower songs have an infectious energy and I think this album might well become one of my favourites.

Towner Gallery, Sat 24th Nov. 
Event from 20:00, but I'm not sure what time Early Ghost will be playing.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Nutcracker (dance)

For many families, Christmas isn't Christmas without the tradition of watching The Nutcracker. This year, the Royal Opera House will be broadcasting the ballet to the Cineworld cinema at Sovereign Harbour making it much more accessible (and considerably cheaper) for those of us who find trekking up to London to be, at best, a bit traumatic!

The storyline, chosen by the first choreographer Marius Petipa, is based on part of The Nutcracker And The Mouse King by E T A Hoffmann. Apparently Petipa gave Tchaikovsky such tight constraints for the score that he was not particularly keen to compose it. The original performance, as part of a double bill with the opera Iolanta, was not a wild success and the ballet did not become a must-see until the 1960s.

The Royal Opera House performance will star Roberta Marquez as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Steven McRae as the Prince. (Steven was the fabulous Mad Hatter in Alice In Wonderland!) The Royal Ballet Sinfonia Orchestra will be conducted by Koen Kessels and the choreography is by Peter Wright after Lev Ivanov.

One Christmas Eve, a family and their friends have gathered to begin the seasonal festivities. At eight o'clock, the children's godfather, Herr Drosselmeyer, arrives. A talented toymaker and magician, he has brought lifesize dolls who dance to the delight of the children. Clara is sad when the dolls are put away, but then Drosselmeyer brings out a Nutcracker doll which Clara loves but her brother spitefully breaks. After everyone else has gone to bed, Clara creeps back downstairs to see the Nutcracker, and finds herself in a magical world of Gingerbread solders and huge mice.

Cineworld, 13th Dec, 19:15.
Tickets £17 (£13.50 concessions). Available online, by calling 0871 200 2000, or in person at the Ticket Office.

Monday, 12 November 2012

East Sussex Open submissions (art)

East Sussex Open 2011
Having got far too excited about having a piece of my artwork in the Towner Gallery as part of the St Wilfrid's Big Art Secret earlier this year, I have had half an eye open for the East Sussex Open which will be at the same venue. However, suggesting to my partner that he should enter some of his photography has been met with blank looks - he doesn't seem so keen!

The East Sussex Open 2013 will take place from the 9th of March to the 28th of April and is open to any adult artists and makers who live within East Sussex. For the first time, this also includes those living in Brighton and Hove. Works in pretty much any media will be considered - presumably as long as they will fit into the Gallery but with their halls having a total area of 668 square metres and the ceilings being 4.5 metres high, you'd need to do a lot of creating to exceed the space!

The judging panel is led by the Towner's Exhibitions Curator Sanna Moore and she will be joined by artists Alessandro Raho and Susan Diab. They would like to see digital images of entries and the stipulations about how these should be submitted are strict. If you are considering submitting your work, read the ESO Application Form carefully! The Towner are offering two workshops, one on the 16th Nov and one on the 15th Dec, to help with photo-shopping images if this is not your strong point - details are on their website.

Closing date for submissions, Sun 6th Jan, 16:00.
Entry fee £15 which covers up to 5 items.

East Sussex Open 2013: Towner Gallery, Sat 9th Mar - Sun 28th Apr.
Tue-Sun 10:00-18:00, plus Bank Holiday Mondays 10:00-18:00.
Free admission.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Cabaret 2012 (theatre)

2012 cast rehearsals
The annual Dicker Players Cabaret will soon offered up again for public entertainment and delight, and the dedicated cast are currently rehearsing three times a week to get everything ready on time. A mix of comedy sketches, comedy songs and other music, Cabaret will be performed at Polegate School over the last two November weekends. A three-course meal will be served by the cast in the intervals of the second weekend's shows and the menu choices can be seen on the Dicker Players' blog.

Cast member Josie Tipler describes the show as "the Two Ronnies, Catherine Tate and Armstrong and Miller at a party given by Fry and Laurie, with the teams from Smack the Pony, Live at the Electric, Monty Python and others. Now imagine they've all had a bit too much to drink. It is the best of sketches, it is the worst of sketches. Much of it is home made. Most of it is hilarious, some unintentionally so. There is music, singing and something vaguely resembling choreography."
2012 cast rehearsals

The eight strong cast are Marilyn Chandler, Doug Dalziel, Stephen Edwards, Josie Tiper, Jim Tipler, Sonia Da Sousa, Christine Armitage Hinks and Clive Hale.

Potential newbies should be warned that the Dicker Cabaret contains strong 'adult humour'. Apparently, although any swearing, sex and violence would never be gratuitous, it will be prevalent so those of a more delicate disposition should probably stay away!

 Polegate School, Fri 23rd and Sat 24th Nov, 20:00. 
Tickets £8, available to reserve online, or to book in person at Hailsham Jewellers (36 High Street).
Self catering.

Fri 30th and Sat 1st Dec, 20:00.
Tickets £17.50, available to reserve online, or to book in person at Hailsham Jewellers (36 High Street).
Includes three course meal.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Un amour de jeunesse (film)

Judging from the reviews I've read while researching this post, I think Un amour de jeunesse is going to be a Marmite film - reviewers seem to either love it or hate it! 

The 2011 project is the third film by French director Mia Hansen-Love and this work is strongly autobiographical. It was made as Mia herself was pregnant which she believes had a strong influence on her presentation of the story. Unknown actress Lola Creton was chosen to play Camille because of her youth. Although her character ages during the film, Mia apparently preferred to see a young person made up to be older when required, than an older actress trying to appear young again.

Un amour de jeunesse begins in 1999 as fifteen year old Camille (Lola Creton) embarks on a relationship with Sullivan (Sebastian Urzendowsky) who is a couple of years older. Sullivan is due to travel to South America for ten months, without Camille, and she is very insecure about this, believing he will not return to her. At first, she is proved wrong and Sullivan writes regularly. But as time passes, his letters become less frequent and Camille realises that he is probably not coming back. She starts a new relationship with Lorenz (Magne-Havard Brekke), a Danish lecturer at her college. However, after eight years, Sullivan reappears and Camille takes an opportunity provided by Lorenz being abroad and the reunited couple embark upon a brief affair.

Eastbourne Curzon, Wed 14th Nov, 14:15, 17:15, 20:15.
Tickets £6.80 (concessions £4.80).
Available by calling 01323 731441 or in person from the Box Office.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Eastbourne Christmas Open Houses (art)

Emma Mason Gallery
There will be a wonderful array of art on show for this year's Eastbourne Christmas Open Houses, the fifth year that the event has taken place. Over fifty artists all over the town will be opening the doors of their studios and workspaces to the public, some as solo exhibitions and others sharing space. There is also an concurrent exhibition at the Birley Centre featuring the works of eighteen artists, and a similar event at the Redoubt Fortress featuring nine artists. Plus, the Emma Mason Gallery will have a new exhibition entitled Into The Ark.

Eastbourne Christmas Open Houses will take place over 2 weekends - the 24th/25th of November and the 1st/2nd December - and there is a great pdf brochure listing all the venues, their artists, and their opening hours & days. As well as paintings and drawings, there will also be jewellery, ceramics, textiles, sculpture, paper cutting and glasswork. Several artists are planning to sell Christmas cards and decorations and some venues will also be offering cup cakes, mince pies and mulled wine. Take advantage of the opportunities to snap up unusual gifts for friends & family and, of course, for yourself!

Eastbourne Promenade at Dusk by Paul Liddiard
Some local artists who have previously caught my eye are noted here and I am hoping to discover several more! Christine Chester and Roz Nathan are opening Studio Eleven over the second weekend to show their textile art and wildlife paintings. I'm not sure whether to visit Letheren Place for Paul Liddiard's House which is also open over the second weekend. I bought a wonderful miniature painting of his at the Lansdowne exhibition in the summer and the temptation to get a 'pair' for it might be too great! Vicki Disney, whose work I liked at the Hailsham Arts Festival exhibition, is showing alongside jeweller Christina Pyemont in Chamberlain Road on both weekends. And ceramicist Anne Barrell, who has a stall at the Terminus Road Art Expo, will be sharing space with work from Anne De Geus, Ann Johnson, Cat Ingrams, Irene Runayker and Until The Cows Come Home artist, Fiona Morrison.

Various venues across Eastbourne, late morning to late afternoon, 
Sat 24th and Sun 25th Nov, Sat 1st and Sun 2nd Dec.
Free admission.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Sleeping Beauty (dance)

Amande Concerts, who are bringing Swan Lake to Eastbourne at the beginning of December, are also producing Sleeping Beauty a couple of days later. Both ballets will be performed at the Congress Theatre and will have music played by a live Philharmonic Orchestra. Sleeping Beauty is a classic fairytale for Christmas and, coincidentally, the same story as the Eastbourne Theatres pantomime although told in a very different way!

Again composed by Tchaikovsky, Sleeping Beauty was first performed in 1890 and is based on the story La belle au bois dormant (the beauty asleep in the wood) by Charles Perrault. Marius Petipa choreographed the original productions

The beautiful Princess Aurora is both blessed and cursed at her Christening. Good fairies have been invited and offer gifts of of honesty, grace, prosperity and beauty, but they are interrupted by the bad fairy Carabosse who is furious at having been left out of the celebrations. In revenge she curses the princess to prick her finger on her sixteenth birthday and die. The court is horrified but fortunately one good fairy is yet to bestow her gift and, although she cannot remove the curse, she changes it so that Aurora will only fall asleep. Unfortunately, she will sleep for 100 years and can only be awakened by the kiss of a Prince.

Congress Theatre, Fri 7th and Sat 8th Dec, 19:30.
Sat matinee, 14:30.
Tickets various prices, available online, by calling 01323 412000, or in person at the Box Office and the Tourist Information Office.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Private Road (film)

A British film from the early 1970s is the Underground Theatre's Thursday night Arthouse choice for November. Private Road (1971) was written and directed by Barney Platts-Mills and is an exploration of the end of the hippy dream that flourished in the 1960s. This was Platts-Mills second film and it has been described as a template for the British realist cinema typified by the film of Mike Leigh and Ken Loach (The Angel's Share). It was reissued by the BFI in November 2011 as part of their Flipside project.

Author Peter Morrisey (Bruce Robinson) has just published his first novel when he starts a relationship with Ann Halpern (Susan Penhaligon). After a break in Scotland, the couple return to London where Peter gets a job as a copywriter. Ann is pregnant and Peter hopes they will marry, but Ann's family do not approve of him. Her father aborts the child and she returns to the family home leaving Peter resorting to theft so he can start writing again.

Private Road was awarded the Golden Leopard at the Locarno Festival for Best Film. Its depiction of Peter's struggle for personal and social freedom is witty and compelling. However, some reviewers have complained that keeping in minor mistakes by the cast makes the film feel more amateurish than realistic.

Underground Theatre, Thu 29th Nov, 19:30.
Tickets £5, available online, by calling 0845 680 1926, or in person at the theatre and the Tourist Information Office.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Keith Pettit (artist)

High and Over
For today's blog, I caught up with Sussex wood-artist Keith Pettit whose work will soon be displayed as part of an exhibition at the Towner Gallery.  As always, eager to discover what inspires our local artists, I began by asking what first attracted him to wood engraving?

KP: I was first attracted to wood engraving - it would be better to describe it as falling head over heels in love with wood engraving - when my partner bought me a book illustrated by an incredible artist called Lesley Benenfield. It was a mix of beautiful loose pencil sketches and gorgeous and lively chalk pastels and some slightly unfathomable black and white "sketches". This encounter was followed by another book - a book called English Country Traditions - illustrated by a brilliant wood engraver - Chris Wormell. I was still very much in the dark about what Wood Engraving entailed. A chance conversation between myself and a customer resulted in a meeting with a very highly regarded wood engraver Sybella Styles who made sure I attended an evening class in Lewes run by the incredibly lovely Diana Bloomfield. She showed me the basics and let me get on with it. It was a remarkable experience. I found engraving was something I took to like a duck to water. I didn't experience the usual frustrations with learning a new skill.

My love initially came from the almost indescribable uniqueness of the look of wood engraving. And as I learnt the skill it satisfied me on many levels. I like the fact that you engrave with a range of tools each with their own name and heritage. I love working with wood at any time so having to manipulate tiny fragments to create art is deeply satisfying and I continue to love the engraving process. It is very meditative. To engrave well you need to slow yourself down, calm down, slow your heart rate to enable accurate engraving. With the usual range of problems and stress in life it is rather a relief when your focus shrinks to the eighth of an inch in and around the tip of your tool.

tE: How does the medium itself influence the images you can create?
Coastguards View
KP: I'm not sure it does. I often describe Thomas Bewick as the Shakespeare of wood engraving. His work and passion was very much recording rural life of the north east in the late 1700s. It is, even now, virtually impossible to avoid his influence. Almost everyone will be familiar with his engravings even if they don't realise it. There is nothing stopping the medium being used to record anything. There was a fantastic series of engravings recording the work to create the Olympic park for instance. However the medium seems to be bound up within the English landscape tradition because of its powerful, singular genesis. I know that one of the main things that drew me to wood engraving was the pastoral subject matter within Benenson's and Wormell's work.

tE: What particularly inspires you about the Sussex landscape?
KP: Difficult one....everything?! It is what I know. I was always, as a child, much more comfortable in the countryside walking with my Grandma around Herstmonceux either to the north in the Weald or to the south on the edge of the marshes. My Mum often took me to the Downs where we had a regular walk on Butts Brow or above Folkington. I would spend hours on my own cycling across the Pevensey Marshes. It was not a chosen hobby it was just something I did. I only became of the romance and passion people felt for the countryside as a teenager. So it is what has always been there for me. I've not chosen it as much as it has chosen me. 

tE: What work will you be showing at the Towner Gallery?
KP: Not entirely sure yet. I've just finished a block which I've not had time to take a print from yet - the view from Belle Tout to Beachy Head which is a conscious nod to the the view Ravilious recorded. I have another block I am hoping to have done in time of a view I discovered with my son walking out of East Dean: a beautiful wind sculpted hawthorn framing Belle Tout in the distance. A flock of sheep turned up when I was sketching it the other week, so they will make an appearance in it too.

tE: After the success of 2012, what do you hope to achieve with your art in 2013?

Christmas Post greeting card
KP: To be honest I have so much on my plate between now and Christmas I can't think much beyond that! I am considering applying to the Sussex Guild of Craftsmen to see if I can get onto their membership. I find demonstrating my art directly to the public is such a powerful selling tool that to be able to exhibit at the Guild's shows would be brilliant. I am giving serious thought to putting forward a large sculpture to the Towner's East Sussex Open (if they are running this exhibition in 2013). I have got two or three ideas that I'm quite excited by - just got to work out how I can afford to put it all together. I was very disappointed to miss out on this years Society of Wood Engravers Annual Show so that will be something I would really like to achieve in '13. One of my biggest ambitions still remains: having an opportunity to illustrate a book with my engravings. I would love the opportunity to talk to someone who could enable me to achieve that (though it is imperative they pay me!!). Which brings me onto my number one ambition. My art has to start taking the lead in my income. My core sign and design work has never been particularly financially successful and is right now being subsidised by my artwork. It seems to me a logical evolution for it to over take the signs and become much more my core.

Towner Gallery Cafe Project, from Tue 4th Dec.
Tue - Sun, 10:00 - 18:00.
Free admission.