‘Prelude’ – the editor’s quarterly blog
Greetings dear reader. Our Winter edition of ingénu/e is now out and flying off the shelves. though judging by the weather and the early blooms – daffodils already out in our road – the season sprites think it’s Spring.
Whatever the weather, though, there’s always time to enjoy the creative aspects of life. There’s loads going on across the region, art exhibitions to visit, concerts to enjoy, theatrical and opera performances to lose yourself in, and if the wild and windy conditions send you to your fireside chair instead, there are CDs to listen to and books to read.
But if you’d rather be ‘doing’ than ‘consuming’, there are more classes, courses and workshops than you can shake a stick at. Have a look at the Spotlight On… feature to see what’s going on in your area. It’s always a real treat for us to see the variety on offer when we’re preparing the feature, we invariably end up with a lot of dates pencilled into our diaries.
One of the things I’m particularly looking forward to is the series of ‘Celebrate Shakespeare’ events in April, running as part of Shoreham Wordfest. We celebrate the great Scottish poet Robert Burns – there are Burns Nights happening up and down the country on 25th January – so why not make a song and dance about Shakespeare, our greatest playwright, whose 400th anniversary falls this April? Bring on the Bard! that’s what I say!
We pride ourselves on bringing emerging creative talent into the limelight, but now and again a famous face creeps into the pages. This issue in particular has more than its fair share of recognisable names, and you don’t have to look too closely to see a Strictly theme emerging – quite unintentionally (despite being a bit of a fan of the show), but once it became apparent we just decided to go with the flow! One interesting aspect of talking to creative bods of any genre who have had success plying their craft, is to find out their advice for others who have yet to make it.
For a lot of artists and creatives their work is a fairly solitary occupation, so input from and interaction with others can be a welcome departure. Working by oneself does have its perks though… While I was wrapping up the magazine design yesterday I listened to Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde – loud… it seemed the right thing to do at the time.
I was awestruck. What a feat of incredible stamina, if not endurance, on the part of the singers, orchestra and conductor. I’ve heard it said that Wagner is something of a ‘Marmite’ composer – you either like him or hate him. Apart from Ride of the Valkyrie I’d only really heard the odd excerpt from his bigger works, but now having listened to this I can completely understand how he divides opinion in this fashion. And I find myself in the ‘pro’ camp. I felt like Inspector Morse.
On which note… Here’s to our winter of discontent, made glorious summer by this sun of Art!
As I write the day is bright and chilly, the first daffodils are starting to unfold their bold trumpets, the first blossom has appeared on wintry twigs – that unbelievable transformation from seemingly dead wood to delicate blooms which always leaves me awestruck – and just the other day I saw a brimstone butterfly dancing his yellow flags across the garden, and three bumble bees, lured out of their winter slumber by the warmth of the sun, foraging busily among the hellebores. The only drawback however, for busy folk like me, is looking out at the garden and realising that if you don’t get out there soon everything will have started without you and you’ll have some serious catching up to do!
And like gardeners of all things creative, those responsible for art trails, exhibitions and festivals all across the region are busy preparing for a bumper crop of aesthetic bounty, some of which you can read about in the Spotlight On.. page. In fact we have a packed issue for you this season, it’s creaking at the seams with a plethora of creative titbits. There’s no shortage of artistic goings-on across the South Downs and High Weald and we’ve crammed in as much as we can. What has become apparent is that the more well-known the magazine becomes, the more we are approached to cover this exhibition or that concert, this book or that play… which of course is brilliant and what we’re all about.
On a similar note, Roger and I often frequent coffee shops in the area, ostensibly to discuss some important matter or plan an article, but in fact the lure of coffee and cake is probably the motivating factor. We generally visit those cafés that stock the magazine, and nothing is more pleasing than to spot someone sitting with a coffee, engrossed in ingénu/e magazine. I still get a childlike thrill from seeing this. The other day my niece, Emily, reported that she’d seen this very thing at St Paul’s Art Centre café in Worthing. Emily approached the woman and asked what she thought of it. Her reply gave me goosebumps. She said that in her opinion it’s the best mag there is for local and interesting news and quality of writing for anyone interested in the arts. I was bowled over. So, whoever said that – if you’re reading this now, thank you for those kind words!
Have an excellent, creativity-filled Spring.
Hello dear readers, and a Happy New Year! By now the Christmas festivities seem like a fond memory and the prospect of a whole new year unfolding at our feet is filled with thrilling prospects and interesting challenges!
With many new and exciting projects added to the wealth of creative activities across the region last year, 2015 has a lot to live up to. We saw the first SEEArt Fair, in Tunbridge Wells, bringing the cream of artistic talent in the area under one roof. It was so successful that plans for SEEArt 2015 were already under way before the dust had settled.
The literary heritage of Worthing was honoured with the first Worthing WOW (World of Words). Helmed by local writer Melody Bridges, it was a week-long festival celebrating the joy of words through poetry, film theatre and books. Another first for Worthing last summer was the community play, A Just Cause, a rollicking tale that involved the people of Worthing past and present. Written and directed by Ann Feloy, produced by Chris Hare and two years in the making, it was a project of herculean proportions and, sadly, I think it was a one-off. However I’m interested to see what Feloy and Hare have up their sleeves next, they’re not long without an interesting project of some kind!
Sitting here at my computer I can hear the wind whirling around outside and the draught from the single glazed window cuts through the room like an icy finger. While the long winter nights might seem dreary, however, there is ample opportunity to cheer them up with creative activities of all sorts. The trick is to get out of the house before the hearthside seduces you into an evening of cosy sloth. Cast your eye over our ‘Spotlight On…’ feature for creative learning ideas in your area. You might end up swapping your cosy living room for a chilly studio but at least you’ll be doing something constructive. My tip for a winter class is to opt for life drawing – the room has to be warm enough so that the model doesn’t get chilly!
Having said all that I rather fancy tackling landscape drawing/painting this year. I can manage portraits and, given a stick of charcoal and a life model, can rustle up a decent nude, but landscapes elude me. So, once this mag is safely despatched to the printer, there’s a chance I’ll be seen heading off to the Downs, muffled up to the ears, clutching sketchbook in mittened hand.
It’s a brand spanking new year, let’s grab it with both hands… carpe diem!
Well, our lovely summer has all but faded out, leaving only the occasional warm day to remind us of that intoxicating season, while the early morning chill heralds the onset of the days of mist and mellow fruitfulness.
It has been a brilliant summer, overflowing with creativity from all corners of the region. We were able to catch quite a bit of it, although logistics alone prevented us from seeing or attending all that we’d hoped to. There were quite a few highlights, but I’ll pick out a few to share with you.
Plays. Plays are completely brilliant aren’t they?! That quinessential live element – it is a unique experience, for even if the actors are repeating their lines night after night, the audience is different and the dynamic undergoes a subtle shift.
One exception to that rule (repetition of lines) was ‘Austentatious’ by a small group of thespians going by the bizarre name of The Milk Monitors, which played at the Connaught in Worthing. Completely ad-libbed from audience suggestions, utterly in keeping with their eponymous heroine’s style, totally hilarious! Watch out for a review in an upcoming issue.
Then, one balmy evening, I was treated to probably one of my most favourite things – open air theatre. The annual Shakespeare at Highdown is an occasion I’ve missed for many years due to living out of the area but that nonsense was brought to a halt with an exuberant and lusty rendition of ‘As You Like It’ by Rainbow Shakespeare. Highdown Gardens, nestling in the skirts of the Downs, off the A259 between Worthing and Littlehampton, is the perfect setting for this gem of the Bard, as the action takes place largely in a wood. We had an excellent picnic and the late evening carolling of blackbirds added to the ambience.
I was also fortunate enough to see Worthing’s Community Play, ‘The Just Cause’, which was a real eye-opener and a thoroughly enjoyable experience. See my review in the Performing Arts pages.
But there’s loads more to see and do and enjoy over the next couple of months, a smattering of which we’ve covered here, so settle down with a cuppa and have a browse!
NB The cover image for the Autumn issue is ‘Little Wing’ by the incomparable Catriona Millar, which I felt captured the very essence of autumn.
I don’t know about you, but I always write best when I’m in a desirable situation… perhaps you like to tuck yourself away in your bedroom, study or garden shed, or spread out on the kitchen table, or take yourself off to the local library. With me it varies; sometimes I need peace and quiet with no interruptions – unless it’s somebody bringing me a cup of tea; other times I like to be out amongst humanity, I’m an inveterate people-watcher, it provides an almost inexhaustible resource for creativity. But whatever the circumstance, if the sun is shining you’ll invariably find me in a sunny spot, like a cat. Currently I’m sitting outside at a riverside cafe, an iced latte gently puddling the table with condensation, the life-giving sun warming my face and Elgar’s Enigma Variations on my iPod, putting the final touches to the book review for this issue.
Taking a moment I close my eyes, shut out the Sunday afternoon social chatter from the next table, and give myself up to the music… ahh Nimrod, the soaring strings, the strident horns, the kettle drum… for a second I was there in the concert hall, the conductor giving it his all as the power of the music surged out across the space towards me. Elgar – what a genius!
How is it possible to capture a mood so expertly with music – not even a mood but something even less tangible. It’s a mystery to me. And to those who say they don’t like abstract art, or don’t ‘get’ it, I say ‘do you like music?’ Take out any lyrics and you’re left with the oldest abstract art in the book. But we don’t think of it like that. Music is hard-wired into our psyche, part of our every day experience. It’s the sound track to our lives. I know I’m always going on about music, but where would we be without it. Admittedly it can sometimes be intrusive. The other day I was trying to have a serious conversation, with some kind of gong workshop going on just yards away. We couldn’t hear ourselves think! But a short while later someone put on a Bhangra track, with added live bongos, and the room was very soon alive with tapping feet.
Last week I had the pleasure of watching ‘Austentatious: An Improvised Novel’, performed at Worthing’s Connaught Theatre by a small company with the unlikely name of the Milk Monitors. What a hoot! It’s the funniest live show I’ve ever seen! The wit, verve, bravura, and sheer energy of the performance was outstanding. My immediate inclination upon leaving the theatre was to join the queue for the evening performance and see it all again, except of course it would be a whole new show. Austentatious was part of the Worthing World of Words Festival, a fabulous festival and, for its debut, very successful.
As the summer rolls on it brings with it a positive festival fest! There’s loads going on out there, we’ve selected a few to tell you about in our Spotlight On section. So now all we need is a good dollop of sunshine, a friend or two to share the fun, and a hamper full of goodies – strawberries, bubbly, Pimms… (hic)
NB Front cover image ‘Another Place’ by the remarkable Carne Griffiths
I looked out of my window this morning and noticed something had changed…
The hillside I can normally see across the valley, and by whose colour I usually assay the state of the weather, was veiled by a curtain of sap green leaves. The horse chestnuts at the end of the road, which up until yesterday had been sporting succulent brown buds, had answered the summons of warmth and light and burst forth into leaf, hiding my view of the hill until autumn undresses them once again. Spring is well and truly under way! Suddenly, it seems, there’s a terrific energy and busyness. Everything is burgeoning. Gardens are starting to fill with colour, our neighbourhood birds are industriously going about the business of nest-building and rearing young, and the dawn chorus is a thing of beauty. I heard it by mistake the other night… having woken I got up to fetch a glass of water and was arrested by the crepuscular symphony. I threw open the window and leant on the sill for a while, breathing in the chilly sweet air, and let the sound wash over me. I crept back to bed, chilled but swathed in the glorious moment.
Life at its best is a series of glorious moments, interspersed with other good stuff. And so is art. It can be glorious for a moment, and for a lifetime, or many lifetimes. It can – and should – transport you. I remember as a teenager seeing Rodin’s marble sculpture The Kiss and being in a state of complete wonderment. At the size, the scale of it, the beauty of it, the fact that someone had carved this out of a chunk of rock, and all the people who had looked at it and what they had thought… it made quite an impression on me. And that’s the thing isn’t it. To make an impression, to communicate an idea. Anyone who creates something is aiming to cause an effect. Whether it’s to a stadium full of people or to one reader, the artist is communicating something. He or she may not even know who their audience might be. Young John Stanley Purvis didn’t know, when he wrote “I can’t forget the lane that goes from Steyning to the Ring” in a trench behind the Somme, that those words would prick tears from the eyes of a middle aged woman nearly 100 years later. *
So, dear reader, look out for some glorious moments, a good book, a poem, a knowingly funny play, the music you know will give you horripilations (that’s goosebumps to you and me), a painting you can get lost in, a tactile piece of hand made jewellery – they are out there waiting to be experienced. (I know… I’m writing this with John Tavener’s Song for Athene blissing out my lugholes.)
And you creatives – go and create, in whatever is your chosen field. Communicate an idea, revel in it. You never know whose life you may touch.
Gill Kaye, editor
* Steyning feature
With the year now well under way and Christmas a distant memory, we look towards spring. Encouraged by brave new shoots thrusting up through the sodden soil and the imperceptible lengthening of the days, our focus starts to shift to more creative pursuits.
I have recently noticed my muse stirring from her winter slumber. My ‘studio’, however, is still cunningly masquerading as a cluttered conservatory, still full of boxes dumped there “just temporarily” when we moved in six months ago, and of plants that are just too big to fit anywhere else in the house (bravely hanging on despite the fact that, according to the plant books, they should have perished in the bone-chilling temperatures). Yesterday I noticed that a slender shaft of sunlight had sneaked through a gap between the houses and was illuminating my easel, standing idly in a corner. It was a sign! Tomorrow I shall muster, advance, take back my studio and triumphantly hoist my metaphorical colours. Victory will be mine!
In our latest ‘Spotlight on…’ section we look at courses and workshops to wet your creative whistle. There is so much to do; new skills to learn, old dormant skills to brush up on, there’s probably a course or workshop for practically anything you can think of. Just assembling this article got me excited about all sorts of subjects – printmaking, designer glass, jewellery making, not to mention painting – and I have resolved to try my hand.
In recent postings and the latest printed mag you will find, as well as the usual raft of superlative exhibitions, galleries and artists to be enjoyed, there is a host of excellent concerts and gigs, a particularly evocative poetry corner, a book review, an exciting ‘Guest Head Chef Night’ at Coast Café in Worthing, plus festival season is starting to limber up (more to come in the ensuing weeks).
Time to come out of hibernation!
front cover image: Blue Tinged Rose by Iris Hill
Well, after a little flurry of warm hazy sunshine – like an epilogue – the glorious summer is now behind us. The bleached blonde verges have given way to a lusher verdant hue and mornings are imbued with that unmistakeably damp earthy scent that heralds autumn.
Now firmly ensconced in the South Downs area after our challenging move over the summer, we’re perfectly placed to be at the pulse of all things creative. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed gathering up material for this second issue of the magazine. It has taken us all over the region, seeing great artwork and meeting cool people. Take Storrington for instance. Not the sleepy through-route I once assumed, it is a strong community harbouring some remarkable talent. Jewellery designer (and sometime artist) Vee Pease has her studio in the village. Artist Nigel Emery can be found creating beautifully animated and textured paintings in his studio above Nifty Gallery (more on him in future issues). The Consortium Store is a delight of, amongst other collectibles, vintage and pre-loved wares – the artistry in this is seeing the potential and restoring otherwise discarded pieces; a skill that is increasingly valuable in our modern throw-away culture.
And then there’s the Old Forge deli, where we stopped to pick up a coffee and snack. Waiting at the counter to be served I noticed delicious-looking ham leek & cheese tartlets. “They’re to die for!” smiled the women in front of me… she was right, melt in the mouth doesn’t even begin to describe the savoury succulence! And Roger’s verdict? “The best bacon butty I’ve ever had!” Fine praise from a Yorkshireman.
In this issue there’s a strong bias towards music in the Performing Arts section. Where would we be without music? It uplifts, soothes, amuses, inspires and sustains us. One late night copyediting session, to help me along, I had Rachmaninov’s Vespers in my ears… such sublime horripilations.
In the Art of Giving section we explore some of the opportunities for unusual Christmas gifts – yes that time of year fast approaches.
So get out and enjoy this ripening season and all the creativity on offer.
NB the cover image for Autumn 2013 is by talented photographer Montana Lowery
Well the first issue of ingénu/e magazine is now out and attracting readers of all ages…
The launch issue of ingenue is now out! After an agonising week waiting for the magazine to arrive back from the printer we proudly set about distributing it throughout the wider South Downs region. We were delighted with the response – it has been well received and some points had already run out when we passed through a second time.
Needless to say we made the most of our perambulations and stopped to sample the local ambience and fare whenever we could: Field and Forrest in Lindhurst – have the most scrumptious moist brownies; St Martin’s Tearooms in Chichester – with its 18th century facade and mediaeval interior it’s like walking into another century, delicious organic food and a charming courtyard garden; Cafe Monde in Winchester – where I indulged in a yummy panini and the best chocolate and banana milkshake I’ve had for a while (very welcome as by that time my stomach was beginning to think my throat was cut!)… so many cool eateries and cute teashops, we couldn’t visit them all – but we’re going to have a damn good try in the coming months!
It’s so refreshing to see so much creativity. Even the smallest places have something arty going on. In a lot of places the art/music/dance is evident whereas in some towns you have to scratch the surface, but if you look hard enough you will often find a thriving creative scene.
Though of course these economically straitened times have seen casualties. The Jane Fuest Gallery in Alresford is likely to be closing its doors and moving to an online operation. Such a shame. There’s nothing like actually seeing the painting, sculpture, ceramic etc in the flesh. http://janefuestgallery.co.uk
So the other day in Bournemouth I went looking for a particular cd – Cloudburst, by the remarkable young American composer Eric Whitacre. It was a hot July day and I was thirsty. Half an hour later I was hotter, thirstier and by now pretty crabby. There used to be a great little record shop in Westbourne, but now the only ‘decent’ music store left in town since Borders hit the deck a few years ago is HMV. Not only was I disappointed by the meagre display in HMV’s classical section, when I asked if they had any cds by Eric Whitacre I was told that they don’t usually carry specialist music! I pointed out that since Whitacre is a Grammy Award winning composer and conductor and the cd I was after an international best seller, it was hardly specialist – I wasn’t impressed! My equilibrium was somewhat restored after a very indulgent ice cream and a gaze out to sea. However, it left me feeling vaguely discontented with the retail scene. When I was a kid I used to stop at the local record shop on the way home from school and spend hours flicking through the record racks, looking at the latest releases, admiring the sleeve artwork, adding titles to the list of records I wanted but would probably never buy. There was a richness to that experience, more tactile and interactive than clicking ‘add to cart’. I feel faintly deprived by our fast, virtual world.
Ok, grumpy old rant over.