Friday, 30 January 2009

Tom Paine's Birthday, Use and Take Care

29th January was Tom Paine's birthday (he was born in 1737), so I arranged for Andy Gammon, the artist and designer, to ring Gabriel, the town bell, to commemorate the event, and also mark the bicentenary of Paine's death in 1809. Thanks to John Crawford, Chief Executive of Lewes District Council, for making this event possible.

The Market Tower in Lewes, during the bell-ringing

Andy Gammon preparing the medieval bell, Gabriel, for the bell-ringing

Inside 'Use and Take Care', a wonderful shop run by artists and designers in the Needlemakers, Lewes, on the corner of Market Street and Market Lane

Chiara Bianchi in her 'Shop of the Artists', 'Use and Take Care'
Some of Chiara Bianchi's beautiful products

Monday, 26 January 2009

Peter Chasseaud's poetic photobooks at the Works on Paper Fair, Covent Garden

I'll be showing my poetic photobooks in the 'Covered' (artists' books) section of the Watercolours and Drawings and Modern Works on Paper Fair in the Old Flower Cellars (formerly the Theatre Museum) at Covent Garden from 4th to 8th February 2009. Opening times are:

Wed 4th 3-9
Thurs 5th 11-9
Fri 6th 11-8
Sat 7th 11-8
Sun 8th 11-5.30

Books on show: Kings Cross, The Euston Arch, Thames - The London River, Afghanistan - A Journey, Willow/Wilg/Weide/Saule (Ypres Willows)

Cable Street, Hand & Eye Press, Shadwell & Wapping

Last Friday, 23rd January, I visited Phil Abel at Hand & Eye Press under an old railway arch at Pincin Street, just north of Cable Street. There are some images below. I walked along Cable Street to Shadwell, past the sadly derelict Crown & Dolphin and Britannia pubs, as far as Shadwell Station on the East London Line, and then turned south following the line of the East London Railway running deep below (the route is marked by a road and a wide public footpath, studded with huge brick ventilation shafts which, up to the 1960s, helped the steam and smoke of the locomotives to escape). After crossing under the old Radcliffe Highway, the railway then passes under the bed (now dry - a park) of the Eastern Dock of the old London Docks) on its way to Wapping, Brunel's Thames Tunnel, Rotherhithe, Surrey Docks and New Cross/New Cross Gate. After fish and chips and a pint of London Pride at the Prospect of Whitby (which I first visited about 1964) on Wapping Wall, I retraced my steps to Shadwell, and then followed the East London route further north as far as Whitechapel.

The London Hospital, opposite Whitechapel Station

The magnificent Albion Brewery building in Whitechapel Road (27 Jan 2009)

The old East London Railway Shadwell Station building (27 Jan 2009)

Brick ventilation shaft just south of the newer Shadwell Station (in the distance)

In the Eastern Dock, London Docks

The Crown & Dolphin, Cable Street

Phil Abel, at Hand & Eye Press, operating one of his two Heidelburg letterpress machines

Hand & Eye Press publicity poster

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Lewes Bowling Green, Tom Paine and the Minotaur

Lewes Bowling Green and its Pavilion, with the Norman castle looming above

Just emerging from hibernation after some freezing weeks, flu, etc. It's been a lovely bright, sunny and relatively warm morning here in Lewes. I spent two hours as a guest of the very friendly Lewes Bowling Green Society playing bowls on the beautiful green in the Castle grounds. Tom Paine used to play bowls here in the 18th Century. The woods, made of lignum vitae (a very heavy, dark, hard wood) have an inbuilt bias, and you have to learn by experience how to bowl using this bias, curving the wood up or down hill, and towards the jack, from an initial line which is to left or right of the jack. The green, which looks deceptively level, in fact slopes in several directions simultaneously and, with its rises and dips, is a treacherous and irregular terrain. This is probably the most beautiful and magical part of Lewes, so it probably won't be long before the planners allow it to be ruined with some totally inappropriate development (as is happening with the Gun Garden, owned by the Sussex Archaeological Society).
After this I had fish and chips for lunch, and a couple of hours at the Kings Head with the Headstrong Club irregulars drinking excellent Harvey's bitter, which is brewed here in Lewes. Then to the secondhand bookshops in the High Street (Bow Windows and Cummings), in one of which I found a nice copy of Michael Ayrton's Minotaur book for (Sir) John Tomlinson (one of the irregulars), who created the part of the Minotaur in the Birtwistle/Harsent opera premiered at the Royal Opera House. This year John will be singing Michaelangelo's poems, set to music by Shostakovich, Baron Ochs (Hamburg), Fafner, Hagen and Hunding in The Ring at the Met (New York), and lots of other stuff.