Monday, May 30th 2016
Some years ago, Tigger was a ‘scooterist’, that is, someone who owns a motor scooter and uses it to travel around. Though she no longer owns one, Tigger remains interested in scooters and in the activities of those who ride them, especially the meetings and rallies organized by scooter clubs. These often nostalgically recall the age of ‘Mods’ and their scooters which was captured so well in the 1979 film classic, Quadrophenia.
This weekend, there was some kind of rally or meeting of scooterists in Brighton and Tigger wanted to go and take a look, so off we went. I think that by the time we got there, the main event (whatever it was) had taken place and not much was going on though there were quite a few scooters parked in various places around town. Though not particularly interested in scooters myself, I did take a few photos. Here they are, compiled into a GIF slideshow:
There were also quite a few motorcycles (as, for example, below) but, happily, no sign of the mutual hostility between ‘Mods’ (who rode scooters and dressed stylishly) and ‘Rockers’ (who dressed in leathers and bestrode motorcycles) that led to violent confrontations in the 1960s, turning certain seaside towns into battlegrounds.
Brighton today was peaceful and the streets and promenades were a-bustle with people out to enjoy themselves.
Brighton already has an established street art community and whenever we visit the city, we keep a lookout for new works. In Bond Street, on the side of a shop called Artrepublic, we saw the above picture, signed by Blek le Rat. Blek is a French artist who has been working the streets since 1981 and is famous for his stencil art. He took his pseudonym from the Italian comic book hero known in France as Blek le Roc, replacing the last word with Rat, an anagram of ‘art’. (For further details, see this Wikipedia article.)
Brighton is a good place to see gulls and this theme has been picked up by Morf in a couple of mischievous-looking birds in King Place.
In a passageway off Black Lion Street, we found an intriguing mural signed by Aiko, an artist hitherto unknown to me.
The mural was extensive but the passage was relatively narrow so I could not get the whole of the mural in the frame and stitching would have led to serious distortion so I have photographed it in two parts.
Aiko, also known, perhaps whimsically, as Lady Aiko, is a Japanese artist now living in New York. As this mural shows, she is prepared to travel. Her style is very original and I think makes her works immediately recognizable as hers.
We turned towards the sea and walked east along the promenade (Madeira Drive), when I photographed the scooters (see above) and the pier. For some reason, I usually photograph the pier from the west so this time I did so from the east. What old Brightonians know as the Palace Pier is these days called Brighton Pier, a name that would have been ambiguous before the destruction by fire of the West Pier, whose blackened remains are still visible above the water.
Along here, painted on the shutters of an under-cliff premises, we find a painting in memoriam of a gentleman called Geoff, together with dates, 1929-2014, which I assume are those defining his lifespan. This picture appears many times on the Web but I have not been able to discover the name of the artist or anything about Geoff himself. If anyone can alleviate my ignorance, I would be grateful. (See Update below.)
On the way back, se spotted this Victorian post box. Known officially as a Hexagonal Penfold Pillar Box, it would have been made sometime between 1866 and 1879 and has thus been in service for between 134 and 150 years. When first installed, these pillar boxes would have been painted green as was then the standard. A few Penfold boxes have been restored to that colour in modern times but this one remains dressed in what has come to be known as ‘pillarbox red’.
We passed through Old Steine, today a thoroughfare but probably once a stony open space where fishermen dried their nets. From here you get a good view of the front of the Royal Pavilion, that magnificent folly built by the Prince Regent whose presence helped turn Brighton from an obscure fishing village into a seaside resort of unique character.
In Kensington Street we discovered this wonderful mural of dogs, commissioned for the Brighton Festival. The artist, Sinna One, worked from 50 photographs of dogs chosen from those sent in by dog owners to produce a realistic and lively result. We were not the only passers-by to spot the mural and others stopped to photograph it or just gaze at it in admiration.
We continued north through the back streets until we came to the Church of St Bartholomew. This Anglican church was built to a design by Edmund Scott, a local architect, and completed in 1874. It has been claimed to be the tallest church in England (excluding spires, towers and cathedrals from the comparison) and whether or not this is correct, the fact remains that it is unusually tall.
When first built, the church was controversial and considered by some to be ugly, an eyesore. Someone referred to it as ‘a Noah’s Ark in brick’, which may have led to the urban myth that was repeated to me when I was a child, namely that the church had been built to the exact measurements of Noah’s Ark as set out in the Bible. Since the 1870s, the church has found acceptance and is today a Grade I listed building.
Lacking a spire, the church is a single mass and looks huge from outside. In some ways, it looks even bigger from inside. The proportions are of a cathedral rather than of an ordinary church.
The church was open and we were invited to explore and take photographs, which we readily did. Edmund Scott was also responsible for designing the interior of the church and its furnishings. Clearly, no expense was spared and imagination was allowed free reign.
A remarkable feature of the church is the altar in a side chapel. It is called the Lady Altar or, for obvious reasons, the Silver Altar. It is decorated with repoussé work and is made of copper plated with silver.
We left the church at last and began to work our meandering way back to the station. My last two ‘catches’ of the day were pieces of street art.
The first was this rather romantic piece in a doorway of a demure young lady holding a spray of red leaves. It is signed by Waleska (Nomura).
The second was this robot or robot warrior, a characteristic piece by Snub23. ‘Kobra’, by the way, is the make of spray paint the the artist prefers.
Brighton, known in the days of Royal patronage as ‘London by the sea’, always offers new sights and discoveries and keeps us returning to find out more of its treasures.
(Edited on July 3rd 2016, thanks to Tigger who discovered an article on the Dog Mural in the Argus.)
Update May 2nd 2017
Thanks to Cameron Keen (see comment below) who identifies the painter of George as the artist Rek and the subject as his grandfather.