Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Artists' Open Houses

The Brighton Festival is unbelievably almost over and I hope all festival-goers have had a great time exploring the cultural folly of this wonderful city. I have been waxing-lyrical about the Artists’ Open Houses festival, which has taken place over every weekend of our festival season.

This weekend is the final and last chance to explore the beautiful and inspiring houses our city has to offer, and I have developed my very own artistic journey of discovery, encapsulating aspects of the Artists’ Open Houses which have caught my fancy. I have given codes after each venue, which relate to the Artists' Open Houses maps.

This weekend, I plan to explore the Open Houses in central Hove, actually, with the Albert Mews Studio (h11 on the AOH map) offering an eclectic mix of print, fashion, ceramics and textiles (appealing to all senses of my creative side) as well as homemade cakes (appealing to my greedy side) yum! Next on my list is The Claremont (h10), with over 200 pieces of diverse art, including explorations of colour with Rachael Adams and delicate cartophilic (maps…) cut-outs with Amy Hope. Maps lead me to ‘Polish & Pin’ at 23 Wilbury Gardens (h3), and a spot of lunch with Flutterby Bakery (I’m not always eating, honest).

I then want to take a look around the grand squares of Brunswick Town, including fine art and jewellery displays from nationally acclaimed artists at ‘Studio 323’ (bt3) in Palmeira Square, and, royal wedding fever alert, the recognisable ceramics of Fiona Howard at ’55 Brunswick Square’ (bt12).

In the centre of town, I want to take a stroll along the seafront arches, especially ‘Arch 229’ (c8) and take a look at the quirky and kitsch ceramics on offer. I’ll quickly take a mooch up Trafalgar Street and head to ‘One in the House’ (c14), mooching back down to see the illustrative delights of ‘3 St George’s Place’ (c18).

Donya Coward, French Bulldog

My old stomping-ground, Kemptown, offers an eclectic world of creation, which deserves a full separate day’s exploration; there are cafes, bars, restaurants and a remarkable mix of modern, Georgian and archaic architecture and a wealth of local inspiration to delight the senses. I aim to start at ‘Kelly Sweeny & Co’ (k7) to see the vibrant screen-printing on offer as well as textural embellished canvases by Rebecca Morgan-Jones. I’ll then head to ‘The House of Curiositea’ (k4) to enjoy the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party-esque experience of ‘surprises around every corner’.

I then plan to amble up to College Road, and have a look inside the many Open Houses being proffered, such as the iconic black and white local photography of Kay Masterson Coulthurst (k15) and monochrome images of James R. Gordon (k13) and the ceramics and secluded walled garden from ‘31Art’ (k14). I might then head up to The Rock (k27), my old local, to (eat) take a look at the local artwork on offer and the Embroiderers' Guild’s exhibition ‘Regency Brighton Revealed’. After lunch, I’ll mosey on round to Arundel Mews, and revel in the imposing print-makers of ‘bip-Art Printmaking Workshop’ (k27), and the tactile ‘House of Cardigan’ (k28) studio, perhaps to purchase some home-wares, and then to get on the next number 1 bus home, completely cultured!

Kate Jenkins, Seafood Salad

Whatever your plans for the final weekend of the festival, have a great time, and if you have any Open Houses trails or experiences of your own, please feel free to share them with us and the rest of Brighton!

Laters people,


Thursday, 19 May 2011

Get ready for summer

Summer is coming! As the weather warms up, I’m not alone in discarding chunky winter clothes in favour of linen layers and T-shirts. There’s a positively Mediterranean atmosphere taking over the city. Cafes overspill onto the pavement, street musicians’ music mingles with the cries of seagulls and generally life seems good when the sun is shining.

Champneys is tapping into the laid back summer vibe with a new range of treatments named Mediterranean Bliss. Never one to ignore a chance for a bit of pampering, I hot footed it over to the Brighton Spa in East Street to see what is on offer.
Champneys has seven town and city spas in the South East and Brighton is the busiest. Not that the there’s any sense of rush, the staff are composed and there is an air of calm. I began to feel relaxed before getting any further than the front desk!

Therapist Nicole introduced herself and explained I would experience a condensed version of the full on Mediterranean Bliss Massage. The complete treatment lasts almost an hour and includes a body exfoliation and hot stone back massage (if you're tempted, it costs £55). I was given a shorter version as a taster session, this skipped the stones and featured a more traditional massage after exfoliation.

The treatments are all based around the new products in the Mediterranean Bliss range. Nicole used the body glow scrub for the exfoliation. To give the flavour of the Med, green tomatoes, figs and olive leaf have been used in the mix. The aim is to smooth over skin ready for the sun after being hidden away during the winter months. It certainly did the trick! Very pleasant indeed.
Next Nicole worked on kneading the nasty knots in my shoulders (caused by too much cycling and hunching over a computer screen). She advised hot stone treatments might be worth a try as the stones are very good for aching backs. She added lava shell massages are tipped to be the next big thing in hot massage - one to watch out for.

In recent years I’ve become a bit of a spa fan and have tried out treatments at many venues around the city. I enjoyed a brilliant hot stone massage at Lansdowne Place Hotel spa earlier in the year. And I love lounging about at the Hilton Brighton Metropole gym and spa facility, with fabulous pool and steam room. But Champneys central location is a total hit for me as I can pop in during a lunch break! So all I have to do now is decide what to try next…



Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Brighton Festival Children's Parade

On Saturday morning I set off from home with two excited kids to join thousands of families massing in the city centre for the annual Brighton Festival children’s parade.

I’m not sure how many schools took part this year – definitely lots. Our school was allocated spot number 66 and there plenty queuing behind us as we got into our starting position.

I love the children’s parade! It’s so totally Brighton: bright, loud, creative and whimsically fun.

All the same, past experience led me to wonder how smoothly everything would run in 2011. How long would we wait penned into our allocated starting street before the actual walking begins? Would we be sheltering from rain, shivering from icy wind or melting under a blazing sun? How many bits of the children’s costumes would disintegrate by the time we reached the seafront? How far would the youngest walk before asking “are we nearly there yet?” in a loud rebellious voice?

To my relief, everything was very well managed by organisers SameSky. We set off before boredom kicked in, the weather was kind (warm with fresh breezes) and the happy mood of the marchers boosted even the smallest walkers to keep plodding to the seafront.

My son was chosen to be part of our school’s Samba band for the first time and proudly bashed out his much practised drum rhythms. My daughter was equally noisy, although less co-ordinated, thanks to a tin whistle. We handed out leaflets for a community funday, the Deans Festival, as we meandered through the streets. All the school children wanted to help and vied to distribute as many leaflets as possible, dashing from parade to pavement trying to outdo their friends. My youngest proudly hand delivered a leaflet to The Mayor!

The only downside of taking part in this fantastic event is I only saw a few of the fabulous creations adorning other groups. Being stuck at number 66 means I have little idea what numbers 1 to 60 or 70+ had to offer in this year’s theme of Children’s Rights. Our school’s topic was recycling and we proudly wore our home-made outfits of cobbled together old rubbish!

Our ragtaggle team was led by the school’s Samba musicians and a giant puppet made of old binbags. Elsewhere in the parade we caught glimpses of an enormous water tap, bumble bees and a dalek.

When we reached the seafront, tired and happy, we saw more of the arty costumes being guarded by their creators as they waited for transport home. My favourite was a totally amazing purple dragon – only in Brighton!



Friday, 6 May 2011

Brighton Festival Radio

After weeks of anticipation and excitement the month of festival madness is almost upon us and Brighton Festival will start in spectacular style with the ever-popular Children's Parade tomorrow morning.

With so many events taking place it can be difficult to keep track, of course a good way to stay up to date is by following Love_Brighton on Twitter or liking our Facebook page (shameless plug!) but another way to stay ahead of the game is by tuning in to the Brighton Festival radio station which can be found at 87.7 FM or you can listen live online now.

The Festival Radio will include listings, event previews & reviews, in-depth discussions and competitions. Get involved with the lunchtime debates and hear recorded highlights so even when the shows are sold out you won't miss out!

Check the Brighton Festival website for more details about the Festival Radio.