Worthing, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Made a small railway journey to Worthing with my bike, almost a year after my first visit, to see Bill Tidy at the museum. Popped in to see Dan Thompson of RAG at their exhibition in St Matthew's church. Dan very kindly gave me a plug in his My Brighton feature in Friday's Argus (click the photo below for an enlarged version on Flickr). Then went for a cycle around the Art Deco splendour of West Worthing and along the seafront (with its absence of cycle lanes) to the award-winning pier, thence for some shopping - any town with a Waitrose and Lidl right opposite one other is fine by me!


Des Buckley's PV

Des Buckley, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

A full week before the Brighton Festival proper starts, Des Buckley had the first PV (private view) of the season at 2 Dorothy Road out in West Hove (err, that's Portslade to the rest of us, where the streets are named after old ladies). If you imagine Artists Open Houses being quiet stuffy affairs with lots of serious goatee twiddling at hushed reverential assemblies, then think again. Entitled 'Trumpets, Roundels and Strumpets', the show has a PG rating (so why was the PV full of rampaging kids)? And as you've probably guessed, there's a strong Mod and scooter theme running throughout the show. Des is joined by fellow artists Tony Ofori, Brian Lowe and Julian Howell, who always seems to be followed round by a bevvy of attractive women. There was live music from The Sweet Nothings in the garden and an accordianist in the kitchen, plus lots of lovely food by Des's partner Hilda, including chilli (meat and veggie), cornbread and CAKE! - Victoria sponge and chocolate cake. Plus we all got an individual cake to take home (well, I did!). Hilda is currently riding high at the top of the AOH cake chart and will probably remain there for at least the next week. I got there a little early so as to record a podcast, which will appear on Bill Black's Open House Online in the near future (ta for the lift Bill!). More photos on Flickr. Open all Festival weekends in May, 11am to 6pm.


Lido Green

Lido Green, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

You can always tell when a photoshoot or film location is in Brighton because of the distinctive diagonally crossed railings along the seafront in that turquoise colour, which according to the painter is called 'Lido Green'. Spotting these new ones being painted made me look closer at the castings. A three-panel section goes: two dolphins, armour head with motto IN DEO FIDEMVS (in God we trust), two dolphins, tho some of the older sections are so encrusted with paint that you can't see what they are! The decorations seem to come from the Brighton coat of arms, but the motto on them is INTER UNDAS ET COLLES FLOREMUS (between downs and sea we flourish). Near the West Pier the railings change to a single long panel with two dolphins in the centre, and across the border in Hove they are another design and colour completely. Coincidentally I spotted a bloke painting some Hove street furniture. Is it Brunswick Green you ask? No, on the tin it's called Hollybush. Lots more fascinating photos on Flickr.



Amanda, who used to work in the Offbeat Café in Sydney Street has started up a blog called gastronaut which aims to give you the lowdown on where (and where not) to eat in Brighton - an entertaining read guaranteed to make you feel hungry just reading it!



Engineerium, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Left the Clarion ride early at Shoreham tollbridge to get back to Hove and the last public day of the Engineerium. I'd read in our new Insight mag that a Hove Rotary Club motorbike rally had been organised for Sunday, but I wasn't sure it'd be in steam. It was a relief to see smoke coming from the chimney as I cycled up Neville Road in the drizzle. It was 4 quid to get in and the place was buzzing with bikers. I didn't take many photos cos I had my camcorder with me and was concentrating on sound and motion!

What bliss to see No 2 beam engine (an 1875 250 hp jet condensing Woolf compound engine by Eastons and Anderson) in beautiful (but quiet) motion. The main exhibition hall with the Corliss steam engine was closed, but the boiler room (with four 1934 Lancashire boilers by Yates and Thom of Blackburn) was a hive of activity. Bumped into Bhav down there – she'd just been to the dog track down the road. Heard Mr Minns say the 'rescue plan' in the Argus was a 'load of crap'! Took about an hour of film, now to edit it down in iMovie! Dunno when as I've just started a MySpace project for even more work avoidance! Sound is not very good tho! On the way back I spotted the model railway in Hove Park - must pop back when it's open. The last time the Engineerium will be in steam is 9 May, at the viewing for the auction.



Well, I tried to get in on my Blue Peter badge, but the ploy failed so I had to stump up the 9 quid entrance fee! The nice thing about the Modernism: designing a new world (1914-1939) exhibition at the V&A is that it was utterly predictable. If you're old enough to have seen the big 30s exhibition at the Hayward back in 1980, or have visited the Bauhaus archive in Berlin, this is all familiar territory, except not as much fun! It's a big show though, starting with Malevich, Rodchenko and all the other Russians, then moving on to Erich Mendelsohn (with his wonderful drawings and a model of the Einstein Tower), to Corbu, De Stijl, and ending up with the stuff I like – a real Tatra T-87 car, Harry Beck's tube map and a Wells Coates Ekco radio. The most boring bit was the architecture room. Obviously it's difficult to transport buildings to the V&A so we had to make do with blown-up photos stuck on the wall. There were, however, several models, including Villa Savoye (which I tried to visit once but was closed) and the Rietveld Schroder house (been there, sat on the chair!). And loads and loads of lovely architectural drawings. But sadly no design drawings, unless you count the caterpillar bus/train in the 'nature' room. Nicest surprise were the ballet costumes of Oskar Schlemmer, which looked straight out of a Pet Shop Boys video, and the wacky fashion: a Max Miller multicoloured Futurist suit and some smart Russian production clothing. There were a couple of bits of real technology (a Bentley rotary engine off a WW1 plane and an X-ray machine) to pad out the 'stuff' and lots of chairs, but mostly it was an art and graphic design show, showing artists' reaction to technology. Lots of films to watch too, if you have the time. BTW the V&A is an inscrutable place, on the way out I was studying the map to see if I could find a route to the drawings collection, when a bemused foreign chap asked me if it was a museum he was in! Seeing as the first thing you see as you enter the place is the gift shop, he could be forgiven. And the expensive coffee in a paper cup in the unkempt garden café is a rip-off.

Rescue plan for Engineerium?

Engineers offers to keep museum running: "A civil engineer who has worked on several major Sussex attractions wants to buy the British Engineerium museum."


Letter: Dancing for joy

A response to my letter in the Argus - a club night for older people, but the Prince Albert isn't exactly a state-of-the-art nightclub!


Bonhams Engineerium sale items

Bonhams Sale 14555: The Jonathan Minns Collection of Industrial Archaeological Artifacts at The British Engineerium, Hove, Sussex, on 10 May 2006.

The British Engineerium RIP

Well, they say you don't know what you've got until it's gone and I was very sad to hear that The British Engineerium in Hove has closed and its contents are up for auction! I suppose I should have visited it more. It was a marvellous place with its huge beam engine and Lancashire boilers in steam, and all the other bits and pieces. Another piece of Brighton's industrial heritage bites the dust, to be demolished or converted into yet more yuppy apartments I suppose.


Rex Whistler

I'm a bit of a whistler myself, but I wasn't really expecting to enjoy this exhibition, but it's nice to see some Art in the Art Gallery for a change. All I knew about Rex Whistler (no relation to the Whistler who painted his mother, but his younger brother was Laurence Whister, the glass engraver) was that he painted the Tate Gallery restaurant murals age 22 and that huge painting of a chubby nude Prince Regent having a peep at the sleeping naked lady Brighton ('HRH The Prince of Wales Awakening the Spirit of Brighton'), which usually hangs in the Pavilion. I had the impression that Rex was a pampered toff dilettante with a penchant for pastiche and trompe l'oeil, hanging round with the 'Bright young things' between the wars, generally looking into the mirror a lot and being photographed by Cecil Beaton. But he was the son of an Essex builder (born 1905) who studied at the Slade and, by the evidence here, worked hard and obsessively. The title of the show says it all: 'The Triumph of Fancy' – with all that fussy Rococo twiddliness, he was a Post-Modernist even before Modernism got going! It suits the Regency opulence of the Art Gallery splendidly. The first room confirmed my prejudices: heavy handed oils and tiny pen and ink drawings filled with microscopic detail. But by the third end room I was a convert. His army paintings and drawings were a revelation – the diagrams of how kit should be laid out, paintings of barrack life (including a lovely portrait of a sergeant chef), a large street scene for target practice, H M Bateman-like cartoons, and his fake old masters for the officers' mess. Most poignant is a self portrait in Welsh Guards uniform, on a balcony accompanied by gin tray and bundle of brushes. On 18 June 1944, his first day of action, he was killed by a mortar bomb in Normandy. He illustrated Gulliver's Travels and Andersen's fairy tales, amongst many other books, so there is lots of illustrator interest. A PV is no place to view the art (especially with an unexpectedly free bar – should've got there earlier!), so a second (or third) visit is on the cards. Maybe see you there? My tip: take a magnifying glass! 'Rex Whistler: The triumph of Fancy' is on at the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery until 3 September. Free admission.