High Society

One of the perks of getting old (no - I don't have my bus pass yet!) is getting into things free! I thought it might rain yesterday, so popped into the Duke of York's cinema for a free-to-oldies showing of High High, High Sauce Eye, High Soss Eye Ah Tea, part of the Celebrating Age festival. What a toe-tappingly spendid film, and Grace Kelly has to be the most gorgeous actress who ever lived. She was sensational. Well, Did You Evah? And that's jazz! We were also treated to a 1950s travelogue on Brighton which caused much mirth by the contemporary usage of the word 'gay', eg 'The Palace Pier has to be the gayest pier in Britain' etc, and much overt sexism in the commentary. Plus there was a Pathe news item on The Promettes, trainee models dressed as air hostesses working out of a caravan and giving helpful advice to tourists (but not single men!). We got a scratchy animation from the National Film Board of Canada called Blinkity Blank (1955). And in the intermission three ice-cream girls, dressed in period costume, appeared - but unfortunately they didn't venture up to the balcony where I was sitting with my wobbly glass of Budvar so I couldn't tell if choc-ices were on offer. Come to think of it, they didn't have bars in cinemas back then, so I got the best of both worlds! No 'Buttons' to throw out unruly customers. No B-film, but I'm not greedy! Many thanks to the DoY for that lovely gift, and I'll be along to see Cars, presently.


Critical Mass cuts crime

Critical Mass cuts crime, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Have you ever wondered where the coppers are when you need one? One concerned citizen couldn't believe his luck when he spotted this month's critical mass accompanied by its usual huge number of cycle bobbies and their van. He'd just witnessed a couple of dodgy looking geezers half-inch a bag from a marquee in Brunswick Square. Immediately six of our cycle bobbies sped off on their Smith and Wesson police bikes in pursuit. As we looped back onto the seafront we saw the alleged thieves helping the police with their enquiries. Tip to would be criminals – avoid Brighton seafront on the last Friday of each month between 6.30pm and 8pm.


Watts Gallery

When I lived in Guildford it was always a treat to visit the nearby village of Compton. It was great for jumble sales, antique shops and homely tea rooms – and The Watts Gallery. Watching the Restoration Village TV programme on BBC2, I was surprised to see The Watts Gallery listed as one of the buildings under threat. It always was a bit run down, a secret place you could take people and watch their eyes light up as we ventured inside. The curator at the time was Wilfred Blunt, brother of the famous spy Anthony Blunt, later replaced by Richard Jeffries. It was built in 1903-4 by George Frederic Watts and his second wife Mary in the Arts and Crafts style. His short-lived first marriage was to the 16-year old actress Ellen Terry – his famous portrait of her shows her smelling camelias, a flower with no scent. Victorian symbolist and allegorical painting may not be everyone's cup of tea, but this gallery, purpose built by 'England's Michaelangelo' is a gem and my kind of museum, with its mixture of important pictures (as well as the Watts, some lovely ones by Albert Moore and Edward Burne-Jones, I seem to remember) and domestic items - plus fabulous back studio rooms containing many maquettes and two full-size plaster sculptures: Physical Energy (in Kensington Gardens, London and Cape Town) and Tennyson (outside Lincoln Cathedral), which we were sometimes allowed to peep into. I visited the Gustave Moreau museum in Paris recently and in my opinion, Watts gallery is the more important. Mary, as well as repainting some of Watts' pictures after he died, to cheer them up, started a pottery to help the local unemployed and the more talented of them helped her to build the marvellous Art Nouveau memorial chapel in the nearby graveyard, where GF is buried – it was a favourite subject of mine to draw and paint. The outside of this remarkable red building is covered in intricate Celtic designs in terra cotta; inside it is decorated in sumptuous blue, red and gold gesso with pictures of angels, and an alterpiece by GF. Well worth a day out in Surrey. So vote now and save the Gallery!


Artwork deaths

It's not often people are killed by works of art, but this inflatable I saw in Edinburgh a few years back took to the air in Chester-le-Street, Co Durham on Sunday and two women inside fell to their deaths. Artwork victims 'fell to deaths': "The Dreamspace sculpture, created by artist Maurice Agis, comprises several rooms, made of translucent PVC sheets, which are interconnected and inflated to allow visitors to walk about inside."

Shyneford revisited pt2

Shyneford revisited pt2, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

It was Graham Clarke's surprise 60th birthday party over the weekend, first at l'auberge at the Onslow Arms, West Clandon on Saturday night, then a picnic at Rack's Close, Guildford, on the Sunday (with a few of us going to the King's Head for a pint after). Some photos here, on Flickr (tho it's an invite-only group). I had a very quick wander round Guildford and took some photos of familiar landmarks: the new building where the Art Deco Odeon once stood, the derelict Civic Hall, and some pubs that have changed their names! There should be a law against it! The Rats Castle on Sydenham Road is now blandly The Guildford Arms, and The Two Brewers (which was The Three Tuns a couple of weeks ago) is now called Mustard! Thankfully The Royal Oak, Robin Hood and King's Head are names that endure.


Hanbury Ballroom closes

Kemp Town gig venue, the Hanbury Ballroom is to close and be replaced by a private members' club aimed at Brighton and Hove's 'creative community' - annual membership is expected to cost about £250 but local artists, authors and musicians will pay £100. Whatever happened to that club for creatives in the old music library?


Open House - First Sale

Dan Thompson was keeping a blog of his Worthing Open House, which finished last weekend. Here's the entry about my record sale: I Hate Dan Thompson - Open House - First Sale.

Christopher Corr

Christopher Corr, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

If your eyes need a holiday, get down to the seafront and the wonderful Christopher Corr exhibition at Castor and Pollux. Here there are around 85 framed paintings spanning the past 10 years of Chris's travels around the world - from Brighton to Bolivia and Cuba to Madagascar - plus over 60 unframed works, sketchbooks, and signed books (many with original drawings) to buy. Since his first book Wel-come to India in 1988 (on sale), Chris has been constantly on his travels, sketching the locals at work and play. Vibrant is too weak a word to describe his work, which looks Day-Glo in places, but all - Chris assures me - done with gouache and acrylics that won't fade! There's lots to look at in every painting, and most will make you smile with all the eccentric detail. They range in price from £300 to £1650 and are flying off the walls, so get down there and give your mince pies a treat. I was down there on Friday night for the PV, and back again Saturday for a second look (and to buy a book!). It's open every day 11am til 5pm, untl 6 August 2006.

I must also put a word in for the exhibition at Brighton University Gallery, entitled 'The Art of Hip Hop... past, present and future', part of the Brighton Hip Hop Festival. It finished on Saturday after only six days, but it was a revelation - intelligent graffiti! BiG's own Nirm was represented, showing his visual diaries, and there was sculpture and photographs alongside stencils and spray paint images. I'd love to have a go, but spray cans are sooo expensive!


The Birds

bird, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Brighton is full of baby seagulls, mostly on roofs, but some fall off before they can fly and wander about the roads until they get squashed by cars in a hurry. This one made a lot of noise as it lost its feet on my Velux window, but I think it got back on top OK.


tinies, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Haven't been out much this week (except to the shops) - now the heatwave has moved on, I've been able to work again. These are two miniature watercolours for the No 18 Gallery in Worthing, to replace the one I sold last weekend! Top is Seven Sisters; bottom is Worthing Pier - very imaginative, I know!



My letter to the Argus on Wednesday 5 July 2006 about not doing away with the West Pier. Letter: Make it a reef: Brighton and Hove City Council is talking about removing what's left of the West Pier at great expense. Other seaside resorts are busy sinking redundant ships and even old bin lorries into the sea to create reefs for wildlife and divers. Why not just tidy up the shore-end of the wreck and leave the rest as a romantic ruin above the waves and a haven for sealife below it? We've become used to the old dear and you'd never consider carting off what remains of Stonehenge to the scrapyard, now would you? Alan (Fred) Pipes, Brighton"


Kingsway Square

Blimey! My old college, Battersea College of Advanced Technology, formerly Battersea Polytechnic, then University of Surrey, later renamed Westminster and Kingsway College, is to become yuppy flats! Thanks to Robin Bradbeer for the alert...


Thompson Towers

Thompson Towers, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Well blow me, I'd just arrived at Thompson Towers, hung my miniature watercolour of Worthing Pier in No 18 Gallery, Dan Thompson's 1/12th scale gallery and sat down to a slice of Tracey's banana cake in the garden, when it sold! Fastest sale in history for a Fred Pipes and the first sale in Dan's Open House. Popped into Sheila Guyatt's Open Cottage on the way to Lidl (stationery week starts on Monday, guys!), then back to a strangely silent Brighton. Checked out the Hip Hop graff jam guys at the station site repainting the hoadings, then home to watch the pathetic penalty shootout.


Baby seagulls

Baby seagulls, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

On the house back to mine - note all the shit on the velux


Emu, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Award-winning Ricky Gervais looky-likey Dave Stonestreet spotted in Sydney Street, North Laine, Brighton