Pecha Kucha

Originally uploaded by fred pipes
No, Pecha Kucha isn't an Inca settlement in the Andes, it's a bimonthly networking event, and it's come to Brighton. Pronounced 'pe-chak-cha' it means chit-chat in Japanese, and that's where it originated, as a means of giving young designers and architects a night to meet and show their work. The pace and timing is dictated by a Powerpoint presentation in which 20 images are shown for 20 seconds each, totalling 6 minutes, 40 seconds. The first Brighton one - in April - I missed, but apparently people were queuing round the block, so I was a bit worried I might not get in (you can't buy tickets in advance). From looking at the programme, I was also half expecting most of it to be a load of pretentious bollocks (and a couple of the 11 presentations did fit that bill - and another couple were basically showing their holiday slides!), but there was quite a bit of illustrator content - shame it clashed with the monthly BiG meeting.

BiG's very own Nirm Dhiman was showing his amazing visual diaries, and was joined by Bec Garland, a northern lass hailing from my neck of the woods talking about her exhibitions of mainly bird and animal drawings around Manchester, and Chao Min Tzu - currently on the MA course at the Uni - did something about the symmetry of Taiwanese wedding dresses (I think!). It was at the Red Roaster cafe and beer options were severely restricted (just Budvar), and - amazingly - though it was packed out, I hardly knew a soul in the audience! As a franchise, the format is a double-edged sword - if a presentation is interesting, you want to see more; but if it's awful, it's soon over. And there is no opportunity for questions (except informally if you manage to collar the speaker in the interval/fag break). The Catalyst Club it is not, but it's certainly very popular and seems to have tapped into some missing need amongst 'creatives'. Keep an eye on this website for future events.


Streamlined Duchess at NRM

Coronation class on Flickr: a fab photo (not mine) of the streamlined Duchess on show at the NRM, York.

6229 'Duchess of Hamilton' - streamlined - on Flickr

6229 Duchess of Hamilton - streamlined - on Flickr: a photo (not mine) of the re-streamlined semi.

'Duchess of Hamilton' streamlined

NRM | Collections | Locomotives | Duchess of Hamilton: bloomin' 'ell I never thought I'd ever see a streamlined semi in my lifetime, but the NRM has re-streamlined Duchess of Hamilton! Gotta get to York to see it! With the Beyer-Garratt festival going on in Manchester as well, this'll be a classic year for trainspotters.


Degree show

Bed piece
Originally uploaded by fred pipes
The May Open Houses in Brighton may be the biggest free art festival in town, but for huge quantities of free art, craft and design in one location, the annual Degree Show at Brighton Uni can't be beat. But tirst thing that strikes you arriving at Grand Parade is that Victoria Gardens opposite has become a forest of potted trees (how long before they start appearing for sale at the Sunday Market, I wonder?). It's a project by architecture student Lucy Palmer to find new uses for the Valley Gardens, part of SEEDA's Places from Spaces programme.

The way to get ahead at art school is to confound categorisation. Thus, you'll find installations in Fine Art Printmaking (Shiho Takizawa), sculpture in Fine Art painting (Daisy Jordan and Lily MacClelland), photography in Sculpture (Wix O'Connell) and an Ingrid Plum-style assembly of paper origami birds in Editorial Photography (Harriet Harmer). So, take no notice of which Department you think you're in and just enjoy the work!

As usual I travelled to the top of the building by lift and worked my way down. First stop was Graphic Design and I was impressed by Kyle Bean's disposable cardboard computers and other electronic devices. In Illustration I was encouraged by the amount of pen and ink drawing this year, particularly Emily Maude's illustrations to her journey through Sussex 'From Alfriston to Wilmington'. There was also a lot of paper cutting, Rob Ryan style, in both the Illiustration and Printmaking depts. Critical Fine Art practice is a bit of a weird one and leaves me cold most years, but this we had Esther Springett's 'The Myth of London Road', something I've already participated in, and my favourite of the show, 'Bed Piece' - a tribute to John and Yoko by The Thomas Ferguson Band. Anything involving the Beatles and ukuleles is fine by me. I went through Painting like a dose of salts - nothing much took my fancy, and Sculpture, which often has the most interesting stuff (and best postcards) was a mess. It was difficult to see where one piece ended and another started. Far better presentation is to be found in 3D Materials practice (Wood, metal, ceramics and plastics) full of beautiful soutions to problems you never imagined existed! Ever wanted to grow vegetables in your car? Rebecca Thewlis's 'Car fuel' is the answer. Want a cupboard that expands with your possessions? Marina Ralph has a sycamore and latex cabinet that's just the job.

Photography has the prime spot in the glass fronted downstairs gallery but failed to impress me. I didn't have time to explore Architecture or Fashion. Anyway, give it a go and make up your own mind - I'm rubbish at spotting the stars of the future! The University of Brighton Undergraduate Degree Show is on until Thursday 11 June.

Postscript: not part of the Degree Show but also on is the 1st year sculpture show in the old Music /Local Studies library on Church Road. Far more interesting that the thrird year's show at Grand Parade, and you get to see the inside of this impressive old building that has been empty for so long.



RH & DR, part 2

Northern Chief
Originally uploaded by fred pipes
I have been a little lax on the blogging front lately, tho I've started another one on Wordpress, mainly to learn how to use the thing and put it through its paces. Many of my websites would be better off in the blog format, but the chore of transporting them over is too daunting!

What I didn't blog was my little jaunt on 8 May to the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway on a Worthing Coaches coach trip. My last and only visit there was in January 2006, when I didn't manage to get to Dungerness. I was hoping that this time I would - and maybe have fish and chips there. But alas no. The driver announced that we would travel from New Romney to Hythe and back, then have a ploughman's lunch at New Romney, then head home. The journey was rather tedious. I was picked up at Preston Circus (hoorah), then we headed north and along the M25 to Clackett Lane services for a comfort stop (boo). We then followed the Eurostar line towards Ashford and eventually arrived at New Romney where we boarded a train pulled by Northern Chief. Bluebottle was also in steam at the station, heading the other way for Dungerness. At Hythe, I watched the loco turn round on the turntable and took a couple of videos on my Flip Ultra. Then it was back to where we started for a pretty boring lunch. I had a wander about (spotted a static Black Prince) and popped upstairs to the model railway exhibit, then it was back on the coach. Going back we took the scenic route through the Romney Marshes, past the wind farm, and stopped off for half an hour at Hastings where I looked sadly at the out-of-service East Hill Lift and had a quick shufty at the Fishermen's Museum, the highlight of which was the Winkle King. A reasonably disappointing day, but it's always uplifting to see, smell and hear some steam!
Winkle King

Eat your greens

I love spring greens. Steamed lightly, they are sweet and nutty - I could eat a whole plateful on their own - and full of goodness. I recently discovered sprout tops as a winter treat. I've also read that pea shoots are a trendy accompaniment to salads. Preparing a bargain cauliflower reduced at Sainsbury's the other day it occurred to me that maybe I shouldn't be discarding the leaves for composting. That got me wondering which leaves are edible and which are not! I know for sure that rhubarb leaves are poisonous. They contain high levels of oxalic acid, also worryingly - according to Wikipedia - found in sorrell, star fruit (carambola), black pepper, parsley, poppy seed, amaranth, spinach, chard, beets, cocoa, chocolate, most nuts, most berries, and beans! Yikes! I also assume that the leaves of the potato, which contain solanine, are to be avoided - tho it's rare to hear of anyone dying from eating green bits of spuds. Solanine is also found in (green) tomatoes and aubergines, so I suppose their leaves are out too. So, what other vegetable leaves can we eat - and which taste good? Beetroot, kohl rabi, celeriac, turnip, swede? What about carrot tops, and the leaves of radishes (yes, says Wikipedia)? Or should they just go to compost? Good old Wikipedia says that nearly 1000 species of plants with edible leaves are known, and lists them here, but this doesn't really tell me what I want to know. Recipes please.