Tag Archives: England

Pierdom

Southend Pier by Simon RobertsSouthend-on-Sea, Essex

I’m very fond of the British seaside. Not so much in a twee “OMG, let’s take photos and eat candyfloss!” kind of way – although that can be fun – but because there is so much to genuinely love about these former tourist traps, with their juxtaposed tackiness and architectural charm. I spent a lot of my childhood holidaying in Britain, as opposed to going on package holidays to places like Tenerife or The Costa del Sol. I felt quite envious of my classmates, who got to travel on an aeroplane and were guaranteed sunshine but, looking back, I think that spending rainy days in a caravan in Scotland and having trips out to Morecambe, Southport and Blackpool has made me feel more connected to the place where I was born. As I got older, I began to romanticise the typical English seaside resort because of their mix of joy, despair and faded grandeur. Of course this is present in a lot of small towns, but with the harshness of winter and idyll of summer by the coast, these extremes seem…amplified. This isn’t just some abstract feeling I have either. Although there are exceptions to this trend in prosperous locations, such as Brighton and Poole, the traditional British seaside town has long been in decline – offering the kind of unfashionably kitsch holiday that belongs to your granny and granddad’s halcyon days. A recent report called ‘Turning The Tide‘ details the deprivation present in the UK’s coastal towns – including the ones which haven’t been totally deserted by tourists. In a lot of these towns, the grand old hotels have since been converted into bedsits that are full of transients. Although I will always have a soft spot for Blackpool in particular, the reality of life there is pretty grim. In the series ‘Pierdom’, Simon Roberts focuses on Britain’s iconic Victorian piers, and his lens captures my feelings about these places perfectly. From wind-bitten, rusting structures to sun-bathed promenades, his photographs evoke the curious charm and essence of the British seaside.Hastings Pier Simon RobertsHastings, East Sussex

Boscombe Pier Simon RobertsBoscombe, Hampshire

Teignmouth Grand Pier Simon RobertsTeignmouth, Devon

Blackpool South Pier Simon RobertsBlackpool, Lancashire

More of Simon Roberts’ brilliant photography is on his website – there are more photographs from the Pierdom series, and you should also have a look at another project he has done called ‘We English‘, which focuses on English tourism in a much broader context.

The Bruce Lacey Experience

The weather turned out to be beautiful on Saturday, so I headed up to Hampstead for a wander, and to see the Bruce Lacey Experience at Camden Arts Centre.

“No artist should live in an Ivory Tower of aesthetics. The Artist should be at grips with his life, with the essence of life, not it’s superficial visual manifestations. He shouldn’t just be stimulating man intellectually, or emotionally, like a love potion or a panacea, for purely aesthetic motives. It should instead be awakening his conscience and his awareness of life as it is and what it is going to be, as we move forward to a very frightening future, where man’s very individuality and personality may be lost. It is the artist who must have his finger on the pulse to safeguard us all. For if he doesn’t, no one else will.” Bruce Lacey, 1964.

The comprehensive retrospective documents Lacey’s career – which spans five decades – and features many of his characteristic robots, such as ‘Boy, oh boy, am I living!’ (above), and Rosa Bosom, Lacey’s flirtatious femme bot who won Andrew Logan’s Alternative Miss World competition in 1985.Fragments of Bruce Lacey’s life are also on display, from photographs and clothes, to anecdotes and notes. A hand-written notice invites passersby into the Lacey family home to join them for tea and watch Tarzan, and when Lacey recalls his childhood, it sounds so quintessentially British and fun, with trips to the seaside and fancy dress parties being a regular occurrence. I loved the post box dress! It’s such a frivolous piece of clothing, and looks like it could come straight out of a collection by The Rodnik Band or Jeremy Scott. Anyone who knows me personally, or regularly reads this blog, probably realises how much I’m into psychedelia and gig posters from the sixties. Naturally, I loved this collection of archival posters advertising Bruce Lacey’s past shows and exhibitions.

The current exhibition finishes on September 16th, but that means you still have just under a week left to catch it, and Camden Arts Centre is open until 9pm on Wednesdays. Go, go, go!