North Laine map

North Laine map
Originally uploaded by fred pipes
I do work occassionally you'll be glad to hear, tho I've recently learned that I am no longer needed to maintain the Time Team website - the whole gang is being disbanded after 11 years (my first involvement was on the Time Team Roadshow - later called History Hunters - pilot in Marshfield back in 1998!). That's a good three month's work a year gone - still, it frees up Xmas until Easter. Well, I also do the odd bit of illustration and I drew this pictorial map for the North Laine Traders Association, where the trendiest shops and cafes in Brighton are. It was originally going to be A3 with north at the top but during the course of the job became A4 and with the west at the top! There was more stuff in it too, but it began to get a little cluttered. You can see a detail on my Art Blog - pick one up when you're next in the Offbeat or Capers. Laine by the way is Anglo-Saxon for field. In Brighton there is also The Lanes, nearer the sea, but there is no North Lanes, South Laine or any other variation. The brochure was designed by Deborah Aldridge at Colourfast.


J W Waterhouse

J W Waterhouse: The Modern Pre-Raphaelite. What's that all about? For a start he wasn't a member of the PRB, in fact when William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti founded the Brotherhood in 1848, John William had yet to be born. Ok, his models look decidedly Burne-Jones, but Ned wasn't stricty a Pre-Raph either, merely a follower - albeit Rossetti's pupil. And by the end of Waterhouse's working life, with Impressionism and Modernism all the rage, his paintings were considered old-hat. The slightly misleading subtitle has been picked from an 1895 quote by critic Harry Quilter who said Mr Waterhouse 'shows one of the most brilliant and essentially modern performances of this eclectic age ... [He] has chosen a pre-Raphaelite subject [St Cecilia], and yet has treated it in a way that is not pre-Raphaelite any more than it is impressionist'. In other words, he paints mainly mythological scenes a little more freely than his predecessors. And despite being a lifetime Academician, produced some of the most beautiful paintings in the world.

Anyone who was a student in the 1960s would almost certainly have had a Waterhouse poster on their bedsit wall next to a Beardsley (I had and probably still have 'Hylas and the Nymphs') - there was something about the Waterhouse chicks with their long straight hair, pubescent breasts and distant gazes - plus their association with singing and flowers - that struck a chord with hippy culture. 'The Lady of Shalott' remains a Tate Gallery bestseller.

His earlier works are more reminiscent of Alma-Tadema - hard edged and cold, like blown-up illustrations from an old history book, and lacking Alma-Tadema's style and colour sense. It's only when he started painting (half-naked) women, such as 'Consulting the Oracle' in 1884 and 'St Eulalia' in 1885 that he found his winning formula. After that it was hit after hit with different versions of the Lady of Shallott and Ophelia stories, lots of water, half-seen breasts and plenty of mythic femmes fatales en plein air . From books like The Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood and Desperate Romantics, we know lots about the earlier Pre-Raph models, but little about Waterhouse's. Did he use the same model over and over, or like Burne-Jones could only draw women one way?

The exhibition at the Royal Academy was in its last week when I visited, and I had to queue for half an hour. I could have ordered my tickets over the internet, but that would have incurred a nasty booking fee! There were a lot more paintings than I'd expected, plus sketchbooks and drawn-in books of Romantic poems on display. Over the years I've been to solo shows of all the Victorian artists I admire - Holman Hunt last January in Manchester, Rossetti in Liverpool a few years back, plus Millais, Lord Leighton and Alma-Tadema in London - and feel this completes a set. Who else is there left to explore?

As far as I know, he wasn't related to either Alfred Waterhouse, the architect of Manchester Town Hall, or Keith Waterhouse, the writer of Billy Liar.

After the show, I popped down to Trafalgar Square to catch a Fourth Plinther - it was Emily P projecting 212 ping-pong balls into the audience to publicise Activinstinct. I caught a green one, but gave it to her friend - you may be able to spot me in the video.


Edinburgh 2009

Gilvan, White and Foster
Originally uploaded by fred pipes
Edinburgh is like this big buffet of delicious and exotic morsels (I was going to say smörgåsbord, but I'm not sure what one of them is) - but do you choose the tried and tested (Simon Munnery, Robin Ince, Stewart Lee?) or sample something new and risk disappointment? Whatever happens, the food on someone else's plate will always look more interesting, confirmed when it's all over by looking at their photos on Facebook! Ah well, we can but try... As I said in the last blog, night 1 found us at the Illicit Still for free fringe comedy. It was two separate sessions, before and after food at son Sam's flat (he lets me sleep on his sofa). They weren't brilliant (for example, one comedian asked everyone at the front what they did for a living - I took his earlier cue and said pilot, some girls said they worked with pipes!) but he didn't have any jokes prepared to cope with the answers. Two of the comedians were so sweatily nervous they looked like they wanted to run - why on earth do they put themselves through it?

Saturday 22 August we went to Holyrood Park for the Foodie festival. Sam had free tickets but even so thought it was like paying to go to a farmers' market. We did have the most delicious Arbroath Smokie each (£3), straight from the barrel - I was surprised to discover they were haddock! We also popped into the Scottish parliament to use the loo and see a photojournalism exhibition - I had my Swiss Army penknife confiscated, but got it back when we left. So, onto the first art of the festival, at the Talbot Rice gallery: video art in the main gallery, with the Georgian bit used for the first time with neon sayings of Darwin and Nietzsche, a pretty obvious visual pun on the theme 'Enlightenment'? Then to the Udderbelly to meet Sam's friends - spotted disgraced Blue Peter presenter John Lesley surrounded by a hen party, thence to the Canon's Gait for Robin Ince versus the Moral Majority - an excellent one-man show. A pint of Stewart's 80/- (and a pint of No. 3) then next door for a mexican meal.

On Sunday I used Sam's Friend card to see the Spain exhibition at the Mound. Not particularly impressed tho I liked the big Zurbarán, and the last couple of rooms, with Bomberg and Dora Carrington. Then it was to a crowded Guildford Arms to see FC Ukulele, who I didn't think were that good at the start but improved no end by the time they attempted 'Sultans of Swing' (listen to it on MySpace). Then it was a late night 1am start at the Pleasance Dome for Karaoke Circus. We met up with Max in the bar and got seats right in front of the judges (one of which was Baron Gilvan!). It was excellent fun, with Robin Ince (again), Richard Herring and other assorted stars singing along to the house band of Martin White, Danielle Ward and Foz? in full clown regalia - wish I'd had my Flip with me. The audience were great too, knowing all the words and joining in. We even got a badge on the way out, approx 3am!

I popped along to the Book Festival on Monday, thence to the Assembly to buy some tickets, and on to the Pleasance Courtyard where lovely Lauren Laverne was recording The Culture Show (you can spot me, Sam and Rob in the background just before the Arthur's Seat item). She interviewed Michael Clark and the live music was by Mikelangelo and the Dead Sea Gentlemen, a sort of kletzmer band fronted by a rockabilly. I'd never ever seen the Tiger Lillies, so we had to go to their show - and good as it was with examplary theramin and saw playing, I'd have prefered to see them collaborating with something a little more visual.

On Tuesday I ambled along to the art school to take a look at the live stonecarving, but was more interested in the exhibition 'Remembering Little Sparta'. And I was more taken by Ian Hamilton Finlay's toys and collection of model boats than Janet Boulton's watercolours, I must confess. I then went to investigate Forest Fringe and reserve some tickets for Sporadical, which promised pirates and sea shanties. Then it was over to the Assembly via the Malt Shovel for Frank Skinner's Credit Crunch Cabaret, with Andrew Lawrence and Daniella Ward - and a couple of George Formby inspired banjolele songs. Singing 'Oh oh Osama Bin Laden' we headed down George Street to meet Peter and Lisa - and the newly arrived Nick - at the Cafe Royal.

It was back to the Book festival (and more free coffee with my Scotsman) to see Marina Lewycka talk about her new novel We Are All Made of Glue. Apparently A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian is not very popular in the Ukraine, tho it is available in Russian! She was a wonderful generous speaker and I look forward to reading the new one - the hardback I could have had signed was £18.99 so I think I'll wait for the paperback! Then it was a walk to the Stand for Simon Munnery's AGM (with the mandatory extra hour across the road at Lord Bodo's). On the way to the Cafe Royal again, we popped into Home Sweet Home on swanky Multrees Walk to build wee houses - a great example of using empty shops for Art. It was then a bus ride to a Malaysian restaurant on Nicholson Street, to Forest Fringe for Little Bulb's folk opera Sporadical - a little too much audience participation for my liking, and thence to the Udderbelly for a swift half.

Thursday was my last full day in Auld Reekie. There was a rumour that Foz? would be appearing at Robin Ince's Book Club at Bannerman's. And he was! See a short video here, tho he was uncharacteristically shy. The hot ticket for this year's festival was Mark Watson's The Hotel. Now I usually hate 'immersive' theatre and will run a mile, but had to do this one, and apart from the horrible admin area where we had to take a shoe off, loved it! Sam got a 60th birthday cake in the 'restaurant' and I had a Pony Whine and Sahara Des(s)ert ( plate of sand) from a lovely waitress called Cat. I was lucky enough to be in the IT room when the manager on the verge of a nervous breakdown wandered in. Great fun and wish we'd had more than an hour. To Rose Street for a drink then home on the bus, all cultured out!

Edinburgh always involves lots of late nights, too much drinking and not enough eating, so a big thank you to Real Foods at Tollcross, for their 99p filled rolls and pasties that kept me going. I only wish I had a quarter of the stamina of Peter and Lisa! Overall I thought this year's art was very disappointing - I didn't even bother to venture out to the modern art gallery or the Dean. Should have seen Faust (and we wasted unused comp tickets for Miss Jean Brodie) but thoroughly enjoyed Karaoke Circus and The Hotel - and Robin Ince can do no wrong at the moment!

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