Arts & Elbows

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

Monday, April 02, 2007

Pain in the Arts

The latest installment courtesy of ECR-TV. Let me be the first to point out that the arson attack was actually in 2004. Doesn't time fly when you're waiting for the county council to do something?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Last Resort

As the sharper-eyed readers amongst you may have noticed I've not created entries for a while. Covering what is best opined as the "bright shining lie" that Arts Regeneration has proved to be is a fruitless pursuit. I will rarely make more written entries, but I will make more videos.
You can thank Eastcliff Richard for this new direction, his tax deductable donations to my beard and belly funds means I'll still be expressing a few honest opinions rather than wandering off to find more entertaining activities.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Off Season

Despite Christmas Margate is as off-season as it can get at the moment with little of artistic merit going on. So time to sit back and watch humble me in a Video Nation short which the BBC invited me to do after that pleasant chap from BBC Kent did a piece on local blogs.
It's been quite edited and runs for under two minutes, but should interest the regular reader.
You can view this documentary gem by clicking here. Should you agree or disagree with the content and tone please leave a message on the BBC site, or here, or the generous could do both.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Revolution Saved

Good news indeed for a unique facilty in Kent namely Revolution Skatepark, as they and their landlords Thanet Community Development Trust have managed to come to an agreement over the park's future. Regular reader may recall that TCDT originally intended to impose a whopping increase in rent, exceeding 200%, on the park and weren't interested in negotiating it. Meanwhile Dan Chapman, the man behind the park, was verging on stripping out the park and moving on.

With trenches dug deep it seemed just a matter of time before it would close, but thankfully one brave soul stepped into the no-man's land in between, in the shape of councillor Christopher Wells. Refreshingly neutral but also brightly aware of the value of the facility, he worked incredibly hard to overcome numerous hurdles starting with getting two furious sides to start talking again, many in between, but finally to deliver a solution agreeable to both sides.

The final agreement does sound as if it may have originated from the court of King Solomon, both parties had a surveyor in to estimate a rent in line with the current market, and then they split the difference and that is the new rent.

It's self evident to most residents that many councillors don't seem too involved with righting the wrongs we see from day to day, so how brightly brilliant to have Chris Wells show us all just how it should be done, turning disaster into a victory we might all enjoy. Well done him.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Exodus Exits

Photo: Thierry Bal

They've finished shooting, packed their bags and have trundled off into the sunset, so goodbye to the Artangel team responsible for "Margate Exodus". Next they're off to an editing suite in deepest Soho to put the whole thing together. In the rather cute but unnecessary way that creative folk have they're still a little panicky about getting it to all fit into place, but there's few around here who doubt them.

Artangel co-director Michael Morris dropped me a sweet farewell email and asked me to pass on two things to you all. Firstly he'd like to thank us for having them and secondly more thanks for our support and enthusiasm for what they've endeavoured to do.

In addition he says he misses Margate already, and if you had anything to do with him you, like me, will know he means it. Margate misses them too, given that finally here was a project which was determined to include locals. How rich for A.A Gill to have dared to suggest they parachuted their project in here with no care for the town or it's locals, he obviously got it confused with the Turner debacle but wasn't paying enough attention to notice his mistake.

They'll be back of course, the film is be shown in three venues, namely Margate, London & New York. Good to see us ranked up there where we belong. The shows won't be until late summer next year, with the Channel Four screening some months later. A dreadfully long wait for all of us eager to see it, but there's a little something on the way to quench our cultural thirst. Channel 4 will be screening a documentary about the building and burning of Gormley's "Wasteman" at 8pm on the 2nd of December.

Acol Hits the Spot

They're the friendliest art group around and never fail to stimulate so what a joy to be invited to the private opening of Acol Art Group's "November Show" this evening. The consistency of this group's work never fails to engage, the walls are jam packed with pictures and the prices are simply bargains. There's also the occasional surprise, this year it was Charles Smart who entered a picture of Elvis, very different from his usual and very strong landscapes but a delight none the less.

The atmosphere in the tiny village hall is welcoming verging on the chumly and reflects a way of life, the village way of life, which many villages lost long ago. This might explain why the group is so popular, there's no hint of artistic elitism, any attempt at "artspeak" would most likely be met with an outbreak of giggles, and most surprisingly there's no wordy justification for their existence. They just are, and they just do what they do, and they do it well.

They also know how to put on a good spread. I'm frequently whinging about the distinct lack of tea at art shows, for me there's little more civilised and sophisticated than a collection of good art which can be enjoyed with a cuppa in hand. The AAG not only manage to deliver a great brew, but the cup comes with a saucer too. Just when one might assume it couldn't get any better lo and behold it does in the form of some home baking, a cheesy scone with a magical savoury filling.

Although one of the best shows around it suffers from a short run, it's only open this weekend (18th & 19th November) so get thee there.

The Beat Goes On

Following the success of his stunning ska night featuring Neville Staples, aka one of the Specials, Eli of the Qubar is following it up with another this time featuring "The Beat" as well the usual non-stop ska sound system. If Christmas wasn't close enough, good old Eli has managed to bring it forward a few days by staging it on the 22nd of December. Tickets are £12 each, limited because it's such a delightfully intimate venue and can be ordered by phoning 01843 571684. See you there.

Giles Goes Solo

Local palette master and brush waver Anthony Giles has opened his solo show "Big Sky Exhibition" at the The David Burley Gallery in Birchington Library at the end of Alpha Road. It looks extremely promising but Giles is suffering slightly from the jitters, it being his first solo show leaving him feeling nakedly on show.
Can't see that he has much to worry about having, as he does, a good eye, a steady hand and a resulting collection of fine paintings. He'll be present at his show tomorrow (Saturday 18th) from 10.00am to around midday so a good opportunity to see both art and artist.

"Big Sky Exhibition" by Anthony Giles runs until 4th January 2007.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Art Guerillas in the Mist

Picture the scene; an expensive space devoid of viewers for a few pieces of French art designed to take huge sums of local art funding out of the area for the benefit of anyone but local artists. Ironically the show is entitled "Unite" although that brave cry isn't extended locally, with most alienated from funding rather than united with it.

Suddenly from nowhere there's two musicians filling the space with sound, and a reporter and photographer from the Gazunder watching them. The trumpet player plays an ode to lost opportunities.

The guitarist takes the spotlit but otherwise empty stage. He's clearly breaking all the rules in becoming the first local artist to perform in this space.

He wanders around playing as one of the staff makes a hurried call to management, while the other puts out a priority call on the "shop safe" radio system. Priority calls are meant to be reserved for robberies, assaults or other serious crimes. For some reason musicians playing in a Turner Contemporary venue is rated as criminal, interesting when most locals consider how the millions wasted by the Turner Centre as a greater crime by far.

Ejected onto the street and greeted by the Community Wardens who seem bemused by the whole thing. Although one of them is convinced that for me to take photographs on the public highway is an offence. Despite having been warned I continue to exercise my rights as a free man although apparently this is a serious breach of "Human Rights" and this point is stressed aggressively.

Having surpressed her apoplexy the management find time to talk to a journalist from the Gazette. The reporter was far from impressed with being told her photographer was also breaking the law, and being versed in the legal liabilities of journalism wasn't having any of it.
It did beg the question "What are they trying to hide?".

Finally Turner Centre management face those dastardly criminals, internationally reknowned musicians Mark Hewins and Jim Dvorjack protesting at the one-way flow of arts funding out of the area and the lack of inclusion for local artists.
This gentle protest revealled more than local disaffection, it showed just how much the Turner loathes locals, local talent or anything that might question the construction of their highly profitable, for them, ivory tower.

A cut above the rest

The scissor-welding wizard above is James making the "Slug" look incredibly smart with seemingly little effort but tons of style. James has opened Harbour Barbers in Market Street a swish looking bastion of Gents styling, and judging by the cut he delivered a fine Barber to boot. He's also pleasantly chatty and without ever resorting to mentioning the footy.
Originally local he's spent the past couple of years touring around the country in a narrowboat which is fascinating to hear about despite him not being too sure who Fred Dibner is. Apparently life on a narrowboat leaves little time for television.
I'm off for a much needed trim this week and I advise you do the same should you need it, it's a welcome addition to the old town and the best of luck to him in this new venture.

Take your pic

Thanet's most furiously active art gang, the Acol Arts Group, is holding another of their packed to the rafters exhibitions at Acol Village Hall, Acol Near Birchington on Saturday 18th Nov & Sunday 19th Nov, daily from 10am -4pm.
Expect the usual wide range of talent and at prices which means everyone can easily afford to take something away to grace their walls. A must see!

A Dish Fit for a King

Say hello to Bill and Ildi a delightful couple who've opened a new shop in Market Street in Margate's old town specialising in all things satellite & television related. As well as having the bright new shop they've got a website you can visit to meet all your hi-tech entertainment needs. They got a wealth of well priced goodies, and years of experience so forget those out of town warehouses were no-one knows much about anything they sell and get thee here.
A big Margate welcome to both of them, and the very best of luck with their new venture.

Friday, November 03, 2006

I must go down to the sea again

There's a cracking new show at the Old Town Gallery, Margate packed with a popular subject around here, namely seascapes by Ramsgate painter Peter Radmall. Although I've seen a few of his paintings before nothing prepared me for the scope of his talent as made obvious by this one man show, there's tight and highly detailed paintings, some with more of an impressionist flavour and others which verge on the abstract.
Radmall really has caught the light well in them all, if you're a local you'll actually be able to tell roughly what time some have been painted because the sunbeams are so incredibly accurate, so a morning caught in Ramsgate Harbour really does scream early morning, and another of Margate Harbour is most clearly a partially cloudy late afternoon.

Unsurprisingly these have already started to fly off the walls, half a dozen sold on the opening night alone. There's something fit here for everyone's walls so I suggest you wander down there and have a butchers, you're likely to be delighted.

"Seaside - Isle of Thanet Seascapes" runs until 23rd December 2006 at the Old Town Gallery, 1-3 Broad Street, Margate. For details of opening times or other information telephone 01843 225565 or email

Keeping it local

Hardly the latest in news but worth mentioning in case you missed it. The hard working soul above is Tony who's taken over the Harbour Newsagents in Margate Parade following Geoff's departure after the sad loss of his wife.
Tony's been making improvements galore making it a more enjoyable experience to shop there, today I even managed to pick up a copy of "The Chap" to compliment my packet of Camels. It's a vital small local business which would benefit for your support, so consider using it.

Ask Statto