A Work of Art: Fine Art students hold exhibition

Westwood College, Scarborough, is home to a variety of unique artists, musicians and drama students.

Throughout June, the Fine Art degree students will showcase a culmination of three year’s hard work at their Degree Show.

The graduating fine art student’s work consists of a diverse range of disciplines from visual artists, painters, printmakers, abstract artists and installation artists.

Each student has dedicated the last three years to developing their practice and the degree show will be a platform for the next step in their careers as emerging artists.

Kane Cunningham, the course leader, said: “I am very proud of the achievements this year and hope to see the general public visit the show to appreciate all the hard work and the talent that exists within our region.

“The degree show is more than an exhibition; it’s an affirmation of hard work, commitment and a desire to follow your dreams of being an artist.”

Having a look around the campus, it was clear that there is an array of talented artists from nature paintings through to installation art.

It will be a worthwhile exhibition to go and show support to the artists of the town.

The exhibition will showcase work by eight students and will be held at Westwood Campus from June 6-12 between 10am-4pm.

There will also be a preview evening being held on Friday June 5 from 7-9pm. Admission is free and there is ample car parking.

For any further details about the show, please contact Westwood Campus on 01723 361960.

‘It’s a bit of a necessity, bit business and bit of a passion’

A new pop-up venue in Quids Inn, in Scarborough, has opened and is allowing local musicians to perform there.

Chapter Three was started by Mike Linskey who works at San Angelo, the previous owners of the Open Air Theatre.

Like the Open Air Theatre, the company does celebrity bookings but their new venture is all about smaller artists who are breaking in and have just been signed.

Mike said: “This is sort of where we came from. People have got to come and see you play but it’s a bit frustrating as we get bands all the time but have nowhere to put them in Scarborough but now we have.

“We are trying to bring out of town bands into the town and put our local bands as support acts and hopefully people won’t be able to spot the difference.”

Places like Leeds and York have been providing a venue similar to this for years and have been very successful and Mike is looking to bring a bit of city life and a bit of a city venue.

He said: “It’s all about nurturing the scene that Scarborough used to have but it’s been lost to Ed Sheeran covers in every pub in town in the same pubs, playing the same songs with the same people.

“I know why they do it because pubs make money out of it but it doesn’t help the musicians. They have to go do the songs if you want a career in this.

“It’s hard to make money from it and it’s hard to keep a venue open and it is difficult to keep the door open when you aren’t putting on cover bands.”

Chapter Three began last Thursday but they were asked to do it three months ago but they were trying to work how to make a venue into a venue in three hours and that alone took about a month to work out.

The venue at Quids Inn was decided as Mike has built up a relationship with the bar by hosting university post shows there.

“I quite like it here because it is not a trendy bar but you come and enjoy yourself,” he said.

“People come in and have a party. When Basshunter was here a few months back people were dancing for six hours and that’s what it’s about.”

Chapter Three has been approached by other towns and cities but Mike is planning on having a signed contract with a place so they have full exclusivity and each town will only have one.

“It’s a bit of a necessity, bit business and bit of a passion and no one else is doing it,” Mike said.

As well, San Angelo run a pop-up cinema and are planning to put some films on in Dalby Forest this year.

“People like the idea that something will appear one day and then it is gone the next day,” Mike said.

“People used to come and watch us build Beached.”

Mike would love to hold Beached again and have put a proposal to do it again but it wouldn’t be the same, he said.

“It just got a bit crazy with about 35,000 people on the beach and health and safety has changed over the years, we wouldn’t be able to do it the same,” he said.

“I have no idea how we got away with it anyway.”

The proposal to host Beached again has been knocked back again and again and according to Mike every week someone asks about it.

“A lot the kids that are grown up now had their first gig at Beached and it’s been five years since we last did it,” Mike said.

“It may appear again but it probably won’t be in Scarborough.”

Chapter Three will be held every Thursday at Quids Inn from now on and they have the next four weeks booked.

If any local band wants to get in touch, you can contact them via Facebook or Twitter and send them a demo and they will find a similar band for you to support.

“The plan is to have a headlining act with support from local acts,” Mike said.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chapter3venue?fref=ts

Twitter: @chapter3venue

A Subjective Form of Media

‘Art is subjective’ is a phrase that can easily describe the new exhibition at Crescent Arts, Scarborough.

Pre-pop to post-human: Collage in the Digital Age is an exhibition that caters for the elite and those with knowledge in the field of printing but this does not mean that only those will enjoy it.

The printings feature images of scientific advancements, planes, motorcars and ammunition merged with food, art and seductive human forms.

The exhibition includes work by Pio Abad, Marie Angeletti, Helen Carmel Benigson and Gabriele Beveridge and many others.

The eye-catching and unique images around the gallery show how the artists create collages through digital methods including digital printing on fabrics such as silk scarves.

It is clear that each artist draws on imagery from popular culture and some offer up new, surrealistic landscapes, fusing popular icons or images into entirely new vistas.

In an age where technology and the internet dominate everyday life, there is a feel of an avant-garde Dadaism with a touch of early pop artists.

A particular piece by Berry Patten really stood out as a work of digital art meets classic art. The piece Tributary created a sort of fine art feel that was less ‘contemporary’ than the rest of the pieces in the exhibition.

By using photographic collage, Berry explored the changing sensory understandings of the digital image and her work echoes our distorted material perspective.

This was not a piece for everyone with someone saying that ‘the colours are nauseating’ and ‘the only good thing is where it’s placed next to the one on the right because it brings out the pink more’.

But then again, art is subjective. Everyone has their own preference.

The highlight of the exhibition was the collection of some of Eduardo Paolozzi’s BUNK prints from 1972.

These iconic pieces of work started as tear sheets from magazines and were made during his time in Paris after World War Two.

For anyone interested in concepts on futurist visions from the past then Paolozzi’s work is something to see.

Featuring images including scientific advancements, planes, motorcars and ammunition merged with food, art and seductive human forms that foreshadow the fusion of technology and life.

The fact that they are still in pristine condition and are still inspiring artists in today’s society is one reason to get down and see this exhibition.

According to the curator, Isobel Harbison, Paolozzi’s BUNK prints were not created in the traditional sense but instead were made of printed pieces collaged together.

By doing so, Paolozzi maintained the jagged lines and adhesive markings of the originals.

The other artists in the exhibition fuse foreign bodies in a new, alternative or synthetic landscape that creates a contemporary counterpoint to Paolozzi’s iconic work.

For any fans of collage artists will enjoy this exhibition. There is an outstanding collection of work in the exhibition that is worth a visit.

There is no doubt that this exhibition is not for everyone but there is a handout explaining how the images were created and the meanings behind them.

However, I would advise that you see the art with your own eyes first before reading this as you get to interpret the images yourself.

That’s what art is all about after all. It’s a truly subjective form of media.

This exhibition is worth the visit down to Crescent Arts and will be held there until June 21.

Scandals & controversies in beauty contests

Scarborough-born, Sally-Ann Fawcett, has published a book documenting the media coverage of beauty contests.

When she was growing up in Scarborough, Sally-Ann fell in love with beauty queens and contests and during the 70s, these were on every TV station and covered in all newspapers.

However, nowadays, these contests are barely covered in newspapers or on TV, which led Sally-Ann to write her book, Misdemeanours.

She said: “I was brought up in Scarborough and was always fascinated with these contests and in the late 80s I entered competitions myself.

“The last couple of years, I decided to put all this knowledge in my head down on paper and got my book written and published.”

Misdemeanours is a factual book based on the scandals and controversies that made the headlines in the papers which, according to Sally-Ann, kept these contests going.

“It is all fact and took days of research,” Ann said.

“I had the basic story in my head and still had the newspaper cuttings going back to the 70s but I needed more.”

The book contains 27 different stories that made the papers all over the world, including the Helen Morgan scandal where she was kicked out of the competition because they found out she had a little boy.

There are also some explains from across the Pacific Ocean. America is renowned for beauty pageants and there are plenty of controversies especially with Donald Trump. However, most of the book is primarily British scandals.

“I have got as many background stories as I could and reported as it was in the paper,” Sally-Ann said.

“This research has allowed me to see the differences between the styles of writing each publication has from the sensational side of The Mirror and The Sun through to the serious reportage of The Times and The Telegraph.”

Sally-Ann studied at Scalby School and Scarborough College, finished 3rd in Miss Scarborough 1986 and 4th in Miss Yorkshire 1986, as well as competing in Miss York and Miss Radio York 1988.

“That was the height of my achievement,” she said.

“I did win the local carnival queen but there was about four of us.

“I just loved them so much and I thought it would have been a waste if I didn’t enter.”

As these contests are rarely reported in the papers and TV anymore, it has become a somewhat underground cult for the young beauty queens.

“They spend thousands on prom dresses and it is like a vocation for them,” she said.

In the 80s there was a big back lash towards them by the BBC and ITV who described them as being degrading to women and not PC anymore and were taken off the TV and that caused the newspapers to stop reporting on them.

“I was speaking to one girl who said that she has never seen a Miss World contest,” Sally-Ann said.

“It has changed so much. There should be a TV programme, like a reality programme where people get voted out like Big Brother.

“I think there is still an audience for that.”

Sally-Ann now lives down south and is currently working part-time for Shell Aviation and is in the process of writing volume two of Misdemeanours.

“It is a very time-consuming thing to do,” she said.

“You are with these girls all day. They get an individual interview first and then the show in the evening.

“It is quite hard work but is such a unique thing to do. I am judging the semi-final for the Miss Great Britain and have to decide who goes through.”

A lot of the contests are held up north in places like Blackpool, Wales and Scarborough.

As mentioned, the second volume of Misdemeanours is currently being written but Sally-Ann is also looking to work on a fact fiction story.

“I am wanting to do a Beauty Queen Babylon, sort of a Hotel Babylon thing,” she said.

“It will contain real events that I could get sued for if they were published as fact and that is why I am writing it as a factional book but with fiction.

“It is going to take a lot longer though as I need more gossip.”

When doing her research, the language that was used during the 60s and 70s was quite shocking for Sally-Ann.

“It was language that they wouldn’t use today and that’s what shocked me more but what was shocking to the public was what the beauty queens were doing.

“One was reported when she kicked a police officer and this shocked the public as they were not supposed to act like that.”

Scandals and controversies tend to make the headlines in the media and it is still the same today.

Sally-Ann said: “The contests don’t get much coverage in the media these days, but if another scandal came up tomorrow it would be publicised.

“If it wasn’t for the scandals, no one would hear of them at all.

“There needs to be a documentary series following the contest behind the scenes, I think that would be great. Plus the mums are a breed themselves and are living their lives through their daughters.”

In recent years, she has been invited to judge contests and in September, she will be the head judge at the finals of the Miss Great Britain contest.

“The Miss Great Britain organisation has invited me back this year, as Head Judge, for the 70th anniversary celebrations, which takes place in September and will feature a host of former winners,” Sally-Ann said.

Misdemeanours is now available on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Misdemeanours-Beauty-Scandals-Sally-Ann-Fawcett/dp/1291906363/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432114063&sr=8-1&keywords=Misdemeanours

Old St Stephen’s Church: Rugged Individualism

On the hilltop of Fylingdales sits a beautiful and unique building overlooking the seaside town of Robin Hood’s Bay. This building is Old St Stephen’s Church and it has an interesting history.

The church was probably founded in the 11th Century and in the early 18th Century a west gallery was introduced together with box pews. Then in 1816, when the church was in poor condition and was too dark and small, the arrival of a Mr Barry donated £150 from The Incorporated Church Building Society. This allowed a new church to be built and opened in 1822. This is the current church we see today.

As soon as you enter the building, a feeling of uniqueness will overcome you. The Georgian-style windows and Tuscan pillars are something to see in themselves. The pillars were built using Navy surplus that was left over after the Napoleon wars and has a similar feel and design to that of St Mary’s in Whitby.

The first thing that will capture your eye though, is the dominate three-decker pulpit. With the clerk’s desk at the front and the reading desk behind, the pulpit is complimented by a semi-octagonal tester to increase the volume of the speaker’s voice. However, what is unusual is the positioning of the pulpit. During the time of the construction of the church, a law was passed by the government at the time which agreed that the pulpit cannot obstruct the altar.

In Old St Stephen’s, the pulpit does not obstruct the altar on the eastern end but instead dominates the south wall. This is not unusual in itself, what caused some controversy at the time was how the pews are positioned. As I sat with the pulpit to my right, Deb Gillanders, one of the friends of the church, sat in the pew in front of me. The shock was Deb did not face the altar like an average church but instead faced me. Face-to-face. The church does abide by the law and it could be seen as a middle finger-up to the hierarchy of the church at the time. No doubt, many devote Christians will find this church off-putting but what a story it has to tell.

Not only does the church have an interesting story regarding the pews and pulpit, but the church has hanging original Maiden’s Garland. A Maiden’s Garland is a crown-shaped garland used as a funeral memento for female virgins. These were hung from the chancel ceiling and were carried at the funeral procession of a maiden. These garlands date from the 19th Century. Not only are there garlands in the church but also an interesting list. This list shows all the single women buried in the church graveyard.

With the fantastic views spanning the countryside through to the coast of Robin Hood’s Bay with the new St Stephen’s steeple in view, two graves caught my eye. Looking like the King and Queen of a chessboard, these graves are just two of the dozen interesting graves this church has. These are the resting place for Richard Knightley Smith, who moved from London and married into the local Storm family.

He wanted to be buried in the south west corner but there was no room. But that didn’t stop him. He made sure he was buried there and he built a circular part of the wall similar to the method of flattening out a garden and there he was buried.

As well, the church has roughly around 150 women who never married buried there as well as the same amount of men who died at sea. According to Deb, that is roughly around 100 families that never happened. This is a shocking number of people for a town the size of Robin Hood’s Bay.

The church is full of unique and different things to see from the block of text on the wall that is not attached to anything else through to bell that was brought to this church during the eviction of the monks from Whitby Abbey during the reign of Henry VIII.

The rugged individualism of the church is a brilliant site to see. With no electricity and some of the original 1822 float glass, it seems that the church has a personality all of its own and according to Deb ‘everything is the same but changing at the same time.’

Old St Stephen’s was replaced in1870 by the new St Stephen’s nearer to Robin Hood’s Bay as you cannot have two parish churches in the same parish. This caused uproar from the church warden, who married into the Farsyde family, who found the church to be locked on a Sunday. His letter to the paper can be seen to the left. It still served as a mortuary chapel for many years the church was repaired and services were resumed in 1917. After a big storm in the 1980s, a decision was made to vest the old church in the care of The Churches Conservation Trust in 1986.

The church now holds regular music festivals as the acoustics are great including the 40th year festival of the traditional folk band, The Wilson Family, who will be playing in the church on June 6.

‘The closest thing to a Texas man is a Yorkshire man’

In 1996, gangsta-rapper Coolio was nominated for an Oscar for the film Dangerous Minds and he won a Grammy for the song Gangsta’s Paradise. But who was the man behind the rapper?

Dave Callens was the tour manager of Coolio at the time and has written book telling his story called Putting Socks on the Octopus: The True Story of A Tour Manager’s Nightmare.

We met with Dave and his wife Jaime while they were over in Scarborough visiting friends.

“I got into this in the 60s,” Dave said.

“I liked this much more than being on stage, I liked the control and one thing led to another and I met with the head of William Morris.

“Coolio had the hit and he didn’t treat people very well and when he came over here, he was promoted as a Saturday morning kid’s character.”

Here in the UK, no one had any idea who Coolio was, according to Dave, and he had no idea who he was going to play to.

Coolio was the first gangsta-rapper under the guise of a kid’s entertainer.

“We got here and we did the shows and as soon as the curtain’s opened, he said ‘how y’all m****r f*****s doing?’ and that was just the start,” he said.

“I taped the show a couple of times and I counted 254 times that he said that but I didn’t count all the other ones.

“The show would start full of people and then after about 20mins later there would be around 12 people.”

According to Dave, it was just who these guys were and what gansta-rap was.

Dave was working with the pianist Roger Williams when he was approached for this job and it sounded great to him.

“I got out here and we had to hire a band and it was a band they s**t all over,” Dave said.

“Coolio and the others were in the bus every day playing cards all day long and I sat in the front with the bus driver and it just went on and on and on.”

While in Belgium for a festival, Coolio and the gang came out of the catering and stole all the dishes and they beat up one of the security guards because they didn’t like him.

Dave said: “If they didn’t like someone they would beat them up. It was just their nature.

“They had this one kid with them who would sell T-shirts and he was called Baby Killer.

“This is a gangsta term for a person who wasn’t old enough to be sent to prison and they would be hired to kill people, so I made sure I kept an eye on him.”

Dave used to get all his work from agencies and when this one came around, he made sure he stuck at it and completed it.

His job included sorting out the travel, hotel bookings, money, and the police.

“I dealt with the police a lot more than I thought it would be,” Dave said.

“A girl once got on stage and her bracelet fell off so Coolio pocketed it. It turned out that the girl’s daddy was the chief of police in Toulon.

“Coolio still refused to give the bracelet back and eventually it was his wife who convinced him and he threw it at the guy.

“The police chief looked at me and said ‘he has about an hour to get out of here’ and we went.”

His first job was with Paul Revere and The Raiders where he learnt everything in the first few years.

“Enjoy is a hard word because who knows what they enjoy about work?” He said.

“When I worked with Barry White I had to hire an orchestra and crew and someone suggested an Hungarian band and they have been my friends ever since and we have had three reunions since then.

“Nell Carter was an interesting woman. She was this big black lady who got a TV show and I would describe her as the black version of I Love Lucy.

“She even converted to Judaism to try and get more work and that didn’t happen.”

Behind every good man, there is an even better woman, or so the saying goes and this was the same in Dave’s case.

His wife, Jaime Callens, stayed at home and raised the kids while Dave was on tour.

“Someone had to keep the house tidy,” Jaime said.

“I was a dancer in Vegas in the 60s and when I was 17 I was dancing with the rat pack.

“By the time I met Dave, it was all over with. A dancer’s career ends once you hit 23/24 but I had a wonderful six years but it was a different time in Vegas than.

“It was very small whereas now it’s like the Disneyland for adults.”

As well as working as a tour manager for a large amount of his life, Dave was also a Photoshop artist for a long time and has his own T-shirt business www.cfdavinki.com.

“It started when I did a Mona Lisa with Keith Richards face in it and I got a phone call telling me that he was wearing my t-shirt and a newspaper came and interviewed me,” he said.

“And that’s how it was born. The next thing I knew we had hundred shirts to make for the next day and it has grown from there.”

When Dave started in the tour managing business, he was the youngest person there, and when he finished his last tour with Britney Spears, he was the oldest.

“I had to deal with the artist on a day-to-day basis and deal with their everyday lives,” Dave said.

“It started to get to me. 32 years is a long time but you got to do what you got to do.”

Jaime said: “That was one of the reasons the marriage worked so well, he was gone for the first 30 years.

“I went out to see the Everley Brothers but I stayed away most of the time, he was working 24 hours a day.”

As a tour manager, it was normal for him to visit countries around the whole world and Dave particularly liked Australia as it reminded him of California in the 60s.

“It was clean and everyone obeyed the traffic laws, but it’s not like that anymore,” he reminisced.

So, why would someone from Texas come to Scarborough for a holiday?

Dave and Jaime have been coming here for almost 22 years and even renewed their wedding vows up in St Mary’s Church.

“We love the people and I think in truth the closest thing to a Texas man is a Yorkshire man,” Jaime said.

“We found a wonderful place to stay with a lovely family and their son is becoming some sort of grandchild.

“We wanted to buy a house but didn’t need to and we couldn’t find an easy way to do it.”

The couple have mutual friends with some of the Comet readers including Nick Taylor, Baz Hampshire and Dr Rock, Charles White. All of whom, personally know our own Jo Swift.

“For a long time we enjoyed fishing and was a good reason to come here,” Jaime said.

“Dave was inducted into the yacht club and usually have lunch there on a Saturday.”

The couple spend around three weeks here each year and fly into London and drive up as they usually stop on a night to see friends.

“We made the mistake of coming this year on May 1,” Dave said.

“It took about 24 hours from door to door.

“We’ve been coming here for 20 years and we never talked about what we had done with anyone.

“Nobody really knew what I had done until people found out that I worked with Mötley Crüe.”

People who worked on the tour have reviewed the book on Amazon and according to Dave, many has asked how he can remember all this.

“I think about what I did and it’s hard to not remember it,” he said.

The book he has written is all about his time with Coolio but Dave has worked with a variety of different acts including Mötley Crüe during the Pamela Anderson days.

Profile of the Artistic Director of the Everyman Theatre: Nick Bagnall

There is a clear sense of snobbery in the arts industry, in particular with live art such as theatre, yet the associate director of the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool is just an average man finding his way, through the work he produces. As I sat and waited in the Everyman Theatre bar I thought how this interview would go. Would he be a snobby, ‘theatre is for the elite’ type? I mulled this over my latte and then in comes a man. The man I’m here to see. Nick Bagnall. Dressed in a black coat, zipped to the very top and a navy and red bobble hat, I was initially drawn back. Perhaps I was expecting a little more ‘oomph’ from such a prolific figure in the arts industry. But as soon as he made his way through the bar, he was being constantly recognised by those enjoying a meal. It felt like royalty had just entered the building. Murmurs circulated throughout the room as he walked over to me, smiling and nodding to people in every direction. “Drink?” He asked as he approached. “It’s midnight somewhere. How about some wine?” He then ordered a bottle of Isla Negra Seashore Merlot and sat down, unzipped his coat and poured two large glasses of wine.

“How did I get into theatre?” He pondered my question as he sipped his wine. “I suppose I always had an interest and it was when I was acting at the YMCA in Scarborough as a child that cemented my passion for theatre.”

Being born and bred in Scarborough, Yorkshire, there was a clear Yorkshire accent present in his dialogue, yet strangely a Liverpool twang emerged in certain words.

“I then started directing and have worked on a variety of projects including workshops for the Royal Shakespeare Company.”

Nick started as an actor and was advised to persue a career in directing.

“It was actually Imelda Staunton, you know her right? She told me to get into directing after I helped out in a play she was in,” he said as he took a sip of wine. Staunton was not the only celebrity name that he dropped into conversation. The likes of Andrew Lincoln from The Walking Dead fame was dropped in and without fully understanding the context of why he was mentioned, I just continued to nod along, take notes and sip my wine.

But his tone suddenly changed. “I would, though, cut off my own arm before going back into acting,” he said with a serious look in his deep blue eyes. “I work with actors now and I know the pressure they go through and it’s difficult. I wouldn’t be able to do it.”

With Nick as the associate director, the Everyman has just finished a run of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a particular favourite of his. This was his first Shakespeare since he took the reins of the little-performed Henry VI trilogy for London’s Globe – including four open air performances on the actual battlefields which form the real-life historical backdrop to the plays.

“The Henry plays were such a triumph and a risk,” he laughed as his poured another glass of wine. “I swear there was some health and safety issues.

“One time it was so rainy and muddy I could see the scaffolding sinking into the mud but the actors kept going which was great… they made it a success and I admire them for it.”

The run of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was contemporised by Nick and, as he described, it was a sort of ‘post-apocalyptic version involving carnival, vaudeville and circus.’

“There’s not a ruff or a fairy wing in sight,” he laughs. “Or a pair of tights.”

The conversation then steered away from his career and took a detour towards his personal life. He explained his relationship with his brother. It became clear that the relationship was, in a word, struggling. His fists started to clench and his face seemed to turn a pale shade of red, although that could have been the lighting.

“I haven’t been back to Scarborough for years. I’ve had some memories there that I sort of want to forget but know I can’t,” he stared at the table. He lifted the empty bottle of wine and asked “fancy another?” and he was soon up at the bar ordering the second bottle. The room was already spinning from the first bottle but we had just started on something juicy… What would anyone else have done? He came back with another bottle and poured two glasses again of the same exact amount.

“What were we talking about again?” He asked, his voice becoming more Liverpudlian with more and more alcohol. Bad memories of Scarborough I reminded him. “Oh yeah… So when I was in my twenties, about your age actually, I was out on a night out with this girl. She was so beautiful but we were young and, well, stupid.” He couldn’t look me in the eye but I couldn’t stop staring.

“We both took coke that night and she kept saying she could fly. We were walking home along Valley Bridge,” he paused. Valley Bridge in Scarborough is renowned for people committing suicide by jumping off. I feared where this story was going. “Well, you kinda get the gist. She thought she could fly and well she isn’t here now. Let’s put it that way.”

It became quiet. Despite the murmuring and clashing of glasses behind the bar, something strange had happened. It sort of felt he hadn’t spoken about this incident for years. The tension could, as the cliché goes, be cut with a knife. It was time to wrap things up. It was dusk when we left the bar. The red sun was setting across the River Mersey. We shook hands as he zipped his coat and made his way back home. He was not was I was expecting. He wasn’t an arty-farty type but your average, down to Earth man.

Comedy success for The Ladykillers

A New Vic and Hull Truck Theatre adaptation of The Ladykillers has finished its run at The Stephen Joseph Theatre with roaring applauds.

Directed by: Mark Babych

Written by: William Rose

Adapted by: Graham Lineham

Starring: Anna Kirke, Andy Gillies, Michael Hugo, Andrew Pollard, Matthew Rixon, Timothy Speyer, Matt Sutton

Touring: Hull Truck Theatre

Based on the Ealing Studios classic comedy, written by William Rose in 1955, follows Professor Marcus and his gang of criminals as they attempt to rob a bank.

Disguised as a string quintet, the group take up residence in the home of the elderly, lonely woman Mrs Wilberforce who constantly disturbs and interferes with their plans.

As the narrative progresses, fights begin, arguments occur as the criminals try and succeed with their plan to escape with the stolen money.

As the times change, so does comedy and this production knew how to cater for its audience yet still managed to portray a 1950’s era.

Being familiar with the film and story before seeing the show, I already had expectations of the comedy but I can happily say that even I was, as the cliché says, ‘laughing my socks off’.

I will admit, I did go home and find my dusty Ealing Studios box set to watch the classic but, as said, it didn’t have the same humour as the show.

This is an indefinite ‘hats off’ to the writer, Graham Linehan, who successfully produced a show that will leave all audiences of every age in stitches.

It was full of sexually innuendos and the actors occasionally broke the fourth wall in some cases.

There were some instances when the laughter did override the acting but nevertheless the actors continued professionally.

Set in The Round, the set was large and full of detail. It brought together a picture of a 1950’s home and was more detailed than expected.

From the urn through to the cockatoo cage, everything fitted on the stage and the actors cleverly used the stage by utilising each part of it, including the sections missing where they would occasionally use to create a brilliant comedy.

The production starred Andy Gillies, Michael Hugo, Andrew Pollard, Matthew Rixon, Timothy Speyer and Matt Sutton.

Anna Kirke starred as Mrs Wilberforce, who gave an exceptional performance. The way she performed the role as the feeble old woman was something to see.

She really moulded well into the role and Kirke deserves congratulations on her performance. She was a truly exceptional actor.

During shows, accidents do happen which can throw the actors off guard. But not this talented group of actors.

During the performance, a vital and important part of the set was knocked over which allowed to cast to ad lib.

As the show was a comedy it worked really well and added more to the comedic elements of the show and the audience loved it.

This was not the only ad lib, when Louis (Hugo) and Major Courtney (Rixon) are sat on the roof, they attempted to light a match which didn’t work, causing Hugo to say ‘it’s a fake cigarette anyway’.

This caused uproar throughout the audience and showed the talent of the actors. The ability to continue performing to a high standard without being thrown off guard was a brilliant piece of theatre.

A lot of the audience could relate to production through the era it is set and the film of the same name.

The theatre was packed full of people of all ages and there seemed to be a unanimous liking towards the show.

Could this play be adapted into a modern day context? Probably not. But it didn’t stop hoards of people entering the theatre each night to see the production.

The show is touring and will continue its run at Hull Truck Theatre.

An exhibition worth seeing

The gallery at Woodend hosts a range of temporary exhibitions and the current AOI exhibition is just one of them.

The AOI Exhibition features a variety of award-winning pieces of art from national and international illustrators.

Walking round the gallery, the talent and effort that these illustrators put into their work was outstanding.

With more contemporary illustrations from the likes of Paolo Fiore through to the more traditional by Benjamin Parker are all on show here.

A particular favourite was William Grill’s Shackleton’s Journey which gave a lasting impression and took me back to the first time watching the Christmas favourite The Snowman.

The pencil drawn images bring to life Ernest Shackleton’s expedition across the Antarctic.

The sparse and emptiness of his work create a cold and unnerving feeling, something which Shackleton would have felt during his exhibition.

Any Harry Potter fans will be in awe at the skilfully drawn original artwork of the children’s version of the infamous franchise.

The four of seven illustrations, which were featured on book covers for the Harry Potter series, were drawn by Andrew Davidson via wood engraving on handmade paper.

Davidson shows his distinct vision for his art using the antiquated method. Each wood engraving was hand crafted and made on seven-inch English boxwood onto Japanese paper.

These images bring to life the iconic scenes that children, and adults alike, have grown up with.

The exhibition features award-winning work from eight competition categories: Advertising, Books, Children’s Books, Design, Editorial & Social Comment, Public Realm, Research and Knowledge Communication, and Self-initiated.

Some of these include the Harry Potter franchise and 20,000 Leagues Under The Seas by Jules Verne.

The exhibition is full of unique and varied styles of illustration and even a novice art-goer, like myself, can enjoy the talent and skills of each image.

The varied illustrations range from digital, collage and collagraph printmaking.

One that really stood out was Marcus Reed’s Baboon, Giraffe and Jellyfish pieces of art. His style can be interpreted as digital meets ancient typography.

Reed digitally draws each animal to correspond with their respective letter of the alphabet.

This selection is part of Reed’s Animal Alphabet that is definitely worth a Google.

Lesley Barnes’, 1984, based on the iconic novel by George Orwell, shows the concern and message that Orwell was trying to achieve through his infamous book.

It reminds me of the constructivism era through the use of geometric shapes and colours. The added phrases from Orwell’s novel were also included in her digital illustration such as ‘War is Peace’ and ‘Big Brother is Watching You’.

All these phrases are still relevant to today’s society, making Barnes’ work just as iconic and full of impact as its inspiration.

The exhibition also featured a folder telling the history of Woodend and the Sitwells, with a folder of images showing how the building has changed over the years.

Launched in 1976, the Association of Illustrators Awards provides the leading showcase for international contemporary illustration.

The AOI Exhibition will run until June 13 every weekday and Saturdays.

Q&A with director, writer, producer Jack Thomas Smith

Award-winning director, Jack Thomas Smith, took time out of his busy schedule to have a chat with us about his new dark film Infliction which is a disturbing assembled footage film that documents two brothers’ 2011 murder spree in NC and the horrific truth behind their actions.

His debut film, Disorder, was released by Universal/Vivendi and Warner Brothers and he doesn’t stop there with the horror/thriller genre.

How did you get into filming?

It’s just something I have always done. It started when I was a little kid. I was one of the kids at the opening night when Star Wars came out a long time ago. ‘In a galaxy far far away’. Honestly I was about 8 years old and it completely changed my life. The opening scene of the small ship and then the big ship. I knew then I wanted to make films. Then a year later, I read The Shining by Stephen King and that’s when I knew I wanted to write horror. As I grew older, it was a kind of marriage between writing and making horror films.

Does writing horror/thriller come natural to you?

It does come natural. It’s not all I want to ever write and I do have a couple of projects in my head that are more drama. Infliction is really a psycho-drama that has horror elements to it. But for the most part it is a drama just a very brutal drama. Writing horror does comes natural. I don’t know why my brain is wired like that. I do love comedy but that just doesn’t come natural to write it but thrillers do.

Is Infliction based on real events?

It’s a movie with elements of truth in it. I don’t want to say the film is ‘based’ on real events but it is loosely based on a person that I once knew. She came from a very abusive family and I took from it. I saw the cycle of abuse in her family and Infliction deals with the long term effects of child abuse not just to the child but to the society as a whole. That being said, I don’t want to lie and say it’s based on it. If you turned on the news every day you would see something horrible in the world. And that is what happens in Infliction.

Is Infliction available for UK audiences?

I don’t know yet. I am working on it and I do have a foreign sales agent who has been distributing the film around the world. It is available in the US and Canada at the moment but I am hoping to spread the word. Honest to God I feel that the people of the UK just get cinema. I’m a big fan of The Walking Dead. And I see people like Andrew Lincoln and I just think that he is an actor not a celebrity. Infliction is so story and character driven and I know that anywhere in the world, the UK will get it and I would love to get it there.

What is your next project?

My next project is In the Dark which is a bigger budget film and a traditional action/horror film. It’s based on a small island in Michigan that has been overrun by zombie/vampire creatures, leaving a small group of survivors, armed with guns blowing the crap out the creatures as they try to escape to the mainland. That’s just the popcorn version. There are strong underlying themes and it deals with immorality. One of the characters paralyses his best friend, another is cheating on his wife and the zombie/vampires thirst for killing is sort of almost a drug addiction. The film connects the protagonists with the antagonists. It is full of action and will keep you on the edge of your seat but it is also has some pretty deep themes.

Who is your directorial influence?

I’m a big fan of John Carpenter and Brian de Palma and a huge Scorsese fan. I’m not all horror. My all-time favourite film is Goodfellas. It is just an amazing film and sort of documentary-like. It’s a movie/documentary. The narrations and the long wide steady cam, dialogue, the acting, cinematography. Everything. It is just a perfect film.

Are you looking forward to the new Star Wars?

Here’s the thing. I hated the new three. I’m a huge Star Wars guy and personally Empire is the best. Jedi was too little with the Ewoks. I did not like the new three and didn’t have a lot of hope for this one from the teaser trailer. Then the new trailer came out it and it looks badass and I was like ‘I’m so there!’ With Hans and Chewbacca at the end and with Luke doing the narration, it just looks great. I probably watched the trailer 10 times in the row.

Would you ever consider directing for TV?

I would love to go into TV but it has to be the right project. There are a load of very cinematic TV these days, like The Walking Dead, The Sopranos, Penny Dreadful. I would probably put a bullet in my head if I was asked to do an episode of Friends. I’m not a big sitcom guy. If I ever did TV, it would have to be cinematic TV. We seem to be in a golden age of TV now. We had that back in the 70s with movies, with the likes of de Palma, Woody Allen, Spielberg and they made their films almost look like art house films. It was actually the perfect time for film making and that’s what going on with TV. These cinematic shows are almost like art house TV. It really started with The Sopranos and ironically where it was filmed is the part of New Jersey where I live. It had that feel like it was very cinematic and they didn’t fake LA to look like New Jersey, the shot on location.

How are you planning to fund your next film?

With In The Dark I am meeting with investors. But we have set up an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign but I don’t have a lot of faith in crowdfunding. I am hitting it up on Twitter, sending our press releases. Ideally if I could get some investors in to secure our names, that’s kind of the goal. I hear of films that get millions of dollars through crowdfunding but I don’t believe it. Are the big studios actually doing this to create a buzz? When Paranormal Activity everyone was saying that it is just a little indie film but it wasn’t. Dreamworks were behind it. It wouldn’t surprise me if these crowdfunding campaigns are being bumped loads of money into it by studios to make a buzz. I am too logically and I don’t know how I am going to hit this mark.

We are looking to raise $185,000 which will cover deposits for named stars and the start-up capital will also be used to being Pre-Production which includes storyboards, location scouting, legal fees, publicity etc. There are numerous perks being offered, so there are opportunities to be in the film as a zombie/vampire extra as well as tickets to the premiere and after party.

Infliction is out on DVD and VOD in the US and Canada.

To contribute please go to http://igg.me/p/in-the-dark–6/x/9801149

Follow In The Dark on Twitter at @inthedarkJTS.

Like us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/InTheDarkMovie.

Follow Jack Thomas Smith on Twitter at @JackTSmith1 and for updates go to www.foxtrailproductions.com