Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Head above water.

We had a great time unpacking the new works which arrived on the van from Menorca last Friday. It was just like Christmas-come-early and took our minds off the depressing scenes just down the road.
We were in Menorca in October with artists Kenneth Draper RA and Jean Macalpine which was loads of fun and now feels like years ago. It rekindled memories. On our way to a beautiful beach for lunch, we passed an area of burnt ground. There had recently been a huge fire there. Both Ken and Jean went into raptures about the colours and said they'd return (when we'd gone) to do some work there. Of course we would have just driven past thinking what a shame without noticing the detail. The first work by Ken that we unpacked is called 'Embers' and is the result of that fire. Ken is a sculptor turned painter and his works are pieces of sculpture encased in a box frame. This one immediately transported me back to that day. Jean is an extraordinary photographer. She sees beauty and potential in very ordinary things. She will photograph a piece of rusty metal and transform and enhance the print into a remarkable piece of art. While tourists are taking their holiday snaps, Jean can be found making a close-up of a tatty piece of wall, climbing on a skip or haunting a demolition site.
Come in and see these new arrivals to the Christmas show. Enjoy a bowl of soup or a coffee. We are accessible now. The near-chaos in the town itself is miraculously being sorted out and we are open for business every Friday, Saturday and Monday until Christmas. It is still better to approach via Embleton if you can. The army and co. have done a miraculous job in Workington building a railway station and footbridge in record time. This has eased the traffic build up here in Cockermouth 8 miles away because it is the nearest bridging point between North and South Workington on the coast. With some of our own bridges down, it is still difficult at peak times.
If you can't come in person have a look at our website Ken and Jean's work is now up on the Christmas Exhibition page.

We had a break from the floods on Monday morning - some light relief at Theatre by the Lake Keswick. They were introducing next year's programme on this year's panto set (Grimms Fairy Tales) - and it's a good one. Something to look forward to. Our friends Kay and Stephen who run the Literary Festival - Words by the Water, revealed their March 2010 programme as well. Let's hope it will be BY the water and not under it by then!
There are some real goodies in there - something for everyone - several novelists including Fay Weldon, Sarah Hall and Jane Gardam. Broadcasters including our very own GLC (Greatest Living Cumbrian) Melvyn Bragg, as well as Lynn Truss, Stuart Maconie, Martin Bell. Politics, architecture, history, poetry, religion, art all have their day. The programme is packed with unmissable events and speakers - all crammed into 10 days.
I am giving an illustrated talk on the secret life of an art gallery on Friday 12th March which will be fun. In the morning I will be part of a discussion with James Long and Sarah Hall about whether Creative Writing can be taught. That should be interesting.
You can pick up a full programme at the theatre or the gallery or on line at
Take a holiday in this beautiful theatre among the hills and lakes. We need you more than ever now. It will help with our recovery.