Arts & Elbows

A catalogue of commentary on events in Thanet and occassionally the rest of the world.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Viva La Revolution!

Although I originally intended to build this blogarama to report on interesting developments in arts and regeneration it has fast become a collection of barely concealed problems. From Kent County Council spending £10 million on sweet fanny adams but shamelessly claiming excellence in delivering a new arts centre while nothing was built, via an artist happy to use imagery from the shoal for shameless promotional purposes to Thanet District Council's attempt to rob us of a brilliant library service and disguise it as an exercise in public consultancy. Each a despicable attempt at empire building at public cost and with scant regard for us, the public, who pay for it.
It brings me no pleasure at all to reveal this latest story in deliberate local uselessness, where a landlord is putting a worthy business beyond viability with a whopping rent increase in excess of 218%. Who could this evil landlord be? Some portfolio property speculator with no regard for community or public no doubt.
Wrong! The heartless landlord is Thanet Community Development Trust and the tenant under threat is Revolution Skatepark. Just how TCDT can continue to claim their "first priority is to improve Thanet for everyone who lives, works or visits here" while increasing Revolution's annual rent from £20,000 to £43,650 and thereby putting them out of business is highly questionable.
Here's an outstanding facility - one of the best of it's kind in the country, used by thousands of locals and visitors under threat from a well funded quango which spends around £2 million pounds a year.
TCDT remains unperturbed by their greed threatening seven full-time jobs, six part-time nor the five hundred visitors a week who enjoy the wide range of activities on offer. These aren't limited to skating or skateboarding, but also include climbing, BMX, scootering and offering safe equipment for sale. Venues to perform these activities are scarce in the UK as is the expertise to run them, so to have one right in the middle of Thanet is a fantastic opportunity for local youngsters to participate in something healthy, and legal, safely right on their doorstep.
It has taken years of hard work and determination to provide such a facility and as a result, Revolution have created one of the best extreme leisure facilities in Europe which is also known as being one of the safest and friendliest there is. What they provide is a unique, indoor, fully supervised facility aimed at everyone from toddlers to adults.
Faced with imminent closure and a wealthy quango unwilling to negotiate in any way the brave staff at Revolution have started an SOS, Save Our Skatepark, campaign. So if you'd like to keep a world class facility in our neighbourhood, or you're bored with mindless quangos ruining our community while being very well paid for it you might want to sign Revolution's online petition and get in touch to share your thoughts with the following people;
Councillors Sandy Ezekiel (Leader of the Council) Jeffrey Kirkpatrick (Chairman of the Council) Roger Latchford (Deputy Leader of the Council)
Thanet District Council telephone: 01843 577000
Members of Parliament Dr. Steve Ladyman (Labour MP for Thanet South) Roger Gale (Conservative MP for Thanet North)
Thanet Community Development Trust Ltd (Trustees) (Chairman) (Vice Chairman)
Thanet Community Development Trust Ltd (Directors) Keith Morris (Chief Executive) Keith Single (Finance Director)
Telephone: 01843 282470

For the next development on this story click here.

Spot the Difference

Thanet District Council's cunning plan to replace cleaning the streets with a poster campaign is going great guns. On the seaward side of Marine Drive are the inspirational and quite expensive for what they are "Margate is Beautiful" banners, and on the other side a fine collection of rubbish. Perhaps a cunning ploy to make visitors who normally reside in slums feel a little more at home.

New Pole Dancers

The new local habit of feigning your commitment to regeneration by erecting scaffolding for weeks is quickening it's pace.
The quangotastic joint headquarters of the Turner Centre and Creative Partnerships on Margate Parade being the very latest to follow this fad at no small cost. For the growing numbers of sign spotters out there, no that road isn't closed, but it will be as soon as it gets really busy. Absolute power might corrupt absolutely but until then the powers that be will have to limit themselves to closing roads in a systematically disruptive manner, and erecting scaffolding shortly after completely refurbishing a building with public funds.

Eager Beaver

Not much more to this entry than to show you a photo of Stephen Roper beavering away despite the heat in the small but perfectly formed Old Town Gallery in Margate. There's a fine collection of crafts and great art available here plus the bright and bushy tailed Neil Sparkes show is still running. Go visit.

Slacks Off - Our Trace On

Wandered down to a test screening of "Donovan Slacks" at the Community Pharmacy Gallery but despite turning up early couldn't convince the director to pose for a quick photograph, and his suggestion that I sit around for a couple of hours for the chance of a possibility of maybe getting to use my camera wasn't exciting enough to consider seriously.
Rather than leave empty-handed I took a snap of the sculpture of Tracey Emin which has become resident there. Not as good as the real thing of course, very little is, but an interesting reminder of how happy she has been to talk to humble me , or any other local for that matter, while a new director is far too busy.

Road Closed Rage

Sadly another example of road-closed-when-it's-not syndrome, this time where Market Street becomes Lombard Street. To the right is New Cross Street which is one way but as it stands you have motorists using it both ways, some obeying the diversion sign as seen above, others obeying the one way signs from the top end. No doubt this is excellent delivery from the Highways department at Kent County Council, should there be a collison or other accident as a result it'll be us, the local rates payers, who foot the bill for this rank incompetency.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Men at Work

When is a road not closed? When it's Margate High Street of course. There's been a mite of confusion for folk driving up the High Street to be greeted by a "road ahead closed" sign. Despite the best efforts of many the High Street is not closed, the sign actually refers to a brief closure of New Street as part of the annual festival of closing vital streets during the busiest part of the year for non-vital work.
Thankfully New Street was only closed for the best part of a day, but the sign remains - probably as a message from the Gods of things to come.

Margate is Beautiful, but...

The occassional sight of a dried puddle of blood and broken glass very likely has a stronger effect on visitors than a "please don't litter" poster campaign. Such a vision can be seen on Marine Drive, and does make many locals wonder why cash is spent on such a poster campaign while the streets get grubbier.
Maybe we've all got it wrong, and such scenes are actually a new wave of street art from Eastern Europe ironically commenting on the state of British Streets while paying homage to medieval communicatability in a post modern world which regenerates itself via acts of random violence. Adopting such a stance will allow KCC to write this all up as further excellence in delivering regeration to the town via Arts. Hurrah!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Arson About

A summer weekend wouldn't be complete without some moron commiting a meaningless act of vandalism. Yesterday it was vehicular arson outside Queen's Court in Cliftonville. Thankfully the brave lads of Kent Fire & Rescue Service were there like a greased ferret down a shiny drainpipe and had everything under control quickly.

Palace of the Ice Cream

Being the metropolitan types we are it was all aboard for a trip over to the award winning ice cream emporium called Morelli's over on Broadstairs' prom. If you've tastebuds and you're local you already know of the Morelli's grand reputation for making outstanding ice creams for generations, they've the certificates and silverware on display to prove it - if you're foolish enough to doubt them.
A single spoonful immediately removes any doubt that this is very likely the finest you'll ever find, and they have a stunning range of tongue chilling delights from a simple cornette to gondula shaped dishes stacked with a banana split and the ever spectacular Knickerbocker Glory. There's also the more usual coffee but delivered by a family who've been serving similar long before it became fashionable and with more style than Starbucks could ever dream of.

The Bells, the Bells

Enlightening to bump into the campaigners for a Ramsgate Parish Council who although having been successful in getting over ten per cent of the electorate to sign their worthy petition continue to gather both signatures and support.
Additionally endearing was their town cryer who very kindly gave the slug a lesson in bell ringing, town crying and the correct way to wear a tricorn. Important lessons for a growing lad I'm sure you'll agree. Despite a worthy effort he wasn't a touch on the real thing of course.
Brilliant to see a local political campaign do so well, and be so enthusiastic in going about it, almost enough to make me want to move over to the millionaire's playground which Ramsgate has become.

Mention the War

Just looking at a photograph of snow can be a climatic delight at the moment, although the image above could be tainted by it's content. Panic ye not, it's of a display at this week's "War & Peace" show at the Hop Farm down in the darkest recesses of west Kent. Every year this venue is packed with such displays, hundreds of trade stands and thousands of military enthusiasts. The displays are put together by re-enacting groups, also know as men playing soldiers, and generally have a world war two theme, one group even brings their own Tiger tank.
The group behind the snow bound wreck won many admirers although the group's organiser came in for a fair amount of flak from his partners in re-enactment. An eye for detail and period consistancy is de rigeur amongst them - so those setting up this frosty display were all turned out in Wehrmacht winter kit, perfect for invading the Russian Steppes but a challenge when working in a field in Kent on the hottest days of the year.

Everything about the show is as entertaining, with a massive effort put in by just about everyone bar the organisers. At forty-five quid for a family ticket it verges on the pricey, especially when that doesn't include any form of map. You can buy a map for four more quid, but who'd want to feed the money-grubbing motive behind that? It's a shame because it mars an otherwise exciting and historically educational event.

Don't be Shellfish

Good to see an enterprising chippy in Northdown Road, Cliftonville has found their own unique solution to the cod shortage, and are offering it at a discounted price. No idea what it might taste like, should it become popular there's never likely to be a shortage locally.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Slacks On

Thanet's very own home-grown feature film "Donovan Slacks" is being screened for the first time next week at the Community Pharmacy Gallery on Friday, 28th, at 7.30p.m. It's not an official premiere though more a test screening to see how well the months of editing might go down with an audience.
Here's an opportunity to see the current version, meet many of the cast and crew and enjoy the unique atmosphere which CPG serves up.
There's likely to be a further screening soon with the Thanet Film Society, but if you can't wait for either have a quick butchers at the web site for the film at

Phew - what a scorcher!

What with Thanet being hotter than Honduras, balmier than Bermuda and warmer than Wakiki everyone has finally started to skive off to go and enjoy the sun. So if you're stickier than a bun and still reading this it's time to wise up and go do something outside instead.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Fun in the Sun

This year's Painting Challenge was blessed by a divine mix of talent and sunshine, the latter had an effect on the former but expectedly so. At times it was so hot as to dry the paint on brushes between palette and canvas. Quex House was it's usual impeccable self but the gardens were even more stunning than last year.
Equally as stunning was the broad spectrum of talent beavering away at a great selection of paintings. As one of the judges this didn't make it any easier this year than last, it almost sent me into socialistic spasms wanting to give a prize to everyone because each painting screamed worthy effort and stylish vigour.

The heat was so fierce some finished their paintings and dashed off for shade and sustenance.

While many sought shade under the wide selection of trees.

Others sowed themselves around the walled garden.

A couple of artists decided to sit around the front.

While one went so far as to go so far - out into a field.

All enjoyed the exquisite serenading in a baroque style from Thanet Concert Clarinets.

At the end of a long hot day it was smiles all round for this merry band of artists.

The winners today were -
Peter Day - Best Watercolour
Brian Ward - Best Oil
Tony Giles - Best Acylic
Tina Rowland - Best Mixed Media
Peter Day - Overall Winner & Best Painting
Brian Ward - Runner Up

A great day organised by the dedicated Mike Samson of Acol Art Group, full marks to him, the competitors and those nice folk at Quex for giving everyone the run of their grounds.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Big Sky Success

The Big Sky Jazz Festival is going down a storm with locals and visitors alike. The parade is packed with the hep, the happening and the mildly inebriated as band after band take the stage to bless ears with their cool tunes.
To compliment the wide selection of jazz acts there's a wide selection of food and beverage available with waiter service at the tables set up across the Parade in full view of the stage, as well as all the usual cafes and bars.
If you're feeling left out, don't panic. There's another full day of events tomorrow, gigs all through the week and yet another day of free jazz next Saturday. For further details click here.

Hit Me With Your Rhythm Brush

Neil Sparkes' show at Margate Old Town gallery is packed with sharp vibrancy and colourful vigour. It so perfectly reflects it's inspiration by Mexico City as to make viewers feel the sunshine on their backs. Included are some studies for work commissioned by Jah Wobble, how reassuring to see that Wobble knows a top artist when he sees one.

Sparkes doesn't limit his talents to painting, he has a new book of poetry being published by Billy Childish's Hangman Books this autumn, and is internationally known as a vocalist and percussionist with Indie dance band Transglobal Underground and world music pioneers Temple of Sound. As if that wasn't enough he was part of a performance by BoGaRaBoU this afternoon in the Market place and will be holding a drum Workshop with Ben Badoo tomorrow. All in all an exciting show and thankfully for us another must-see.

"The Rhythms Inside My Head" by Neil Sparkes runs at the Old Town Gallery until 14th August. Telephone 01843 225565 for details.


Yes it's everyone's favourite Media Centre, which is in Margate but isn't a Media Centre, it's Margate Media Centre. Regular readers might remember this building being featured back in April, shortly after the scaffolding went up to repair the roof. The odd part being how this building had just been completely refurbished for £150k.
At roughly the same time across the road the scaffolding went up on a near derelict building and therein is the threefold surprise. Firstly the other building is almost completely finished, an interesting mix of restoration and modern expansion in a delicate shade of mint green. Secondly there's no change at the Media Centre, thirdly and less surprisingly the return phone call from the regeneration department in response to my enquiry about the addition cost of the roof repairs still hasn't happened. They must be dreadfully busy.

Cubism Revisited

The new look of the fortnight old cubes in Margate Old Town has evolved into the perfect metaphor for the Turner Centre, aka colourful but empty boxes.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Ramsgate in Portrait

The painter Lydia Bevan finishes her five month residency at Gallery IOTA with her delightful show "A Portrait of Ramsgate" which opened tonight. It's interesting partly because it's always thrilling to see a contemporary artist who dares to paint but also because Bevan appears to have captured the feel of Ramsgate down to a tee.

There's a deliberately drab flatness to everything which reflects the mundane feel of the town, backgrounds without enough enthusiasm for texture, individuals rendered in simple and few brush strokes, with only a few detailed points such as the irrepressible beauty of a seagull or waves. It's not a negative view, more the out of season winter blues which we, the locals, know so well.

Of course Gallery IOTA doesn't ever limit itself when it puts on a show, alongside this are pieces of photography, video and prose from "TRUTH[and]FICTION", a collaborative project between Lydia Bevan and Emma Leach which launched the Residency in March. There's also a series of artist's talks and performance to accompany the exhibition, details below.

· Saturday 22 July - Creative drawing, printing and stencil workshop from 11.00. All ages welcome and lunch is provided. Just bring along interesting photographs and objects, and plenty of enthusiasm!
· Sunday 23 July - 'Who is Brian Bushell?' A new performance by artist Emma Leach that builds on ideas explored throughout TRUTH[and]FICTION. It will be showing throughout the afternoon at 12.00, 14.00 and 16.00.
· Saturday 29th July - Open mic night with a B-B-Q and music from live DJ's, compered by Claire Haslam [UCCA Student Union President]. Everyone welcome, to listen or participate. Starts from 19.00. Bring your own beverages.
· Sunday 30 July - 'Lydia Bevan and Emma Leach in conversation', an open discussion about the work made during their Artists' Residency. Starts at 14.00

"A Portrait of Ramsgate" by Lydia Bevan at gallery IOTA runs until 30th July. For more information, call the gallery on 01843 853117 or click on IOTA link on the left hand side of this web page.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Unhealthy Developments

News in last weeks Gazette about a plan to change the pavement layout at the bottom of the Margate High Street has left many traders fuming. Thanet District Council handily claim this is to calm speeding cars, which sounds reasonable of course. The fact is there aren't any speeding cars here, the corner is too sharp for anyone to speed through it and in the last decade there has only been two minor traffic accidents in this spot.
So what could be the reasoning behind such a move? Could it be a handy way to fund improvements via the highways budget to bring benefit to a business owned by a good chum of senior councillors? Surely not.
Thanet District Council does seem keen on developments which help certain businesses without ever considering doing anything to benefit them all across the board. Likewise with residents, many having to suffer discomfort for the gain of others.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Kill Bill... posters

With so many folk trying so hard to make Margate High Street a viable and friendly place it's disheartening to see people deliberately try to make it look like a ghetto. Step forward the Canterbury Marxists who decided to fly-post the windows of every empty shop with a collection of posters for their rather dull events.
One such event was at Canterbury Environment Centre, whose sole interests seem to be the immediate environment of their posher neck of the woods, and not responding to messages left on their phone asking just why they're happy to flypost in Margate.
In the true style of the trendyista there was no such poster campaign in Canterbury, no doubt they didn't want to upset their parents perambulations between Fenwicks and Debenhams and risk a cut to their allowances.
Sadly some locals followed this pathetic trend, first Adams the childswear chain decided to promote their sale in this low class manner but being new to it their combination of blu-tac and sellotape meant many were blown away. Most surprising was the later addition of an event at Quex House, not really their style at all.
These empty shops are private property so no chance of the council removing them, they'll remain all summer giving visitors the worst possible view of the town and leaving a bad impression greater than the sum of paper and paste.

Abstract Solution

There's a few interesting abstracts up on the walls of Solutions Coffee Lounge in Margate High Street. Not sure who the artist is but they're worth a gander while you lounge on a comfy sofa sipping at a fresh juice. Sadly my photos came out a little blurred but they're well done and it's interesting to see art freely viewable on walls without sizeable cash subsidies.

Quex Challenge

Thanet's busiest art gang Acol Art Group are holding another of their rather brilliant Art Challenges in the grounds of Quex House this Sunday (16th July) from 10.30 - 4.00pm. Entry is open to all with a small fee of £5 payable and prizes for winners in media categories.
For the non-painters it's a fine chance to take in the wonderful Quex House and Museum with the added delight of watching artists take their pictures from blank surface to finished work. Last year over twenty entrants secreted themselves throughout the grounds producing a wide range of fine work. Many sat on the lawns facing Quex House, others tucked themselves away in the walled garden and not one ran for shelter when the rain clouds threatened.
The single downside is the judging, well one of the judges. For unfathomable reasons I've been invited to judge again, an honour of course, but against the combined talents I do feel incredibly under qualified.

Further details are available from Quex House on 01843 842168 or from AAG leader Mike Samson on 07764-626854.

Ask Statto