At Coastal Currents: Dazzleship NN201 and Wayward

Jaye Ho’s ‘Dazzleship NN201’ in Hastings – (C) Jon Smalldon 2017, All rights reserved

Coastal Currents is back in Hastings (and surrounding area) with a lovely thick brochure and lots and lots to see.  So, in a ‘it’d be rude not to’ frame of mind, I ticked a couple of things off the list whilst undertaking other essential tasks in town (getting a hair cut, drinking a coffee, that sort of things).

First, to St Mary in the Castle, where in Wayward, six female artists have offered a response to the building.  The lines and brickwork of the Crypt have provoked the most literal of the connections through the use of stylised patterns.  My favourite involved sculptures created through the growth of mushrooms.  The twisting, splindliness reminded me of a lot of Dale Chihuly (I mean this in a good way).  I also liked the black coffin grimly defiant in one of the recesses.  I apologise for not making a not of which artist did what.

Second, just off the Stade, we have Jaye Ho’s Dazzleship.  In full on ‘what it says on the tin’, this is a fishing boat onto which has been applied World War One dazzle camouflage.  This follows up a previous dazzle ship display that featured in St Leonards two years ago.  It’s nicely distracting and looks good when set against the ongoing industry of the fishing fleet behind.  I think I may need to go back on a less grey day to get the full colour impact.



At the match: Eastbourne Town Ladies v Dartford Ladies

An early fight for possession – (C) Jon Smalldon 2017, All rights reserved

The last time I was at the Saffrons, the boys from Pier Pressure beat their drums and let off their flares.  Today, their signs were on display but the boys were not, instead the off-game noise came from an end-of-season cricket match, a well-attended display of bowls and the distant thwack of croquet.  Quite a few of those taking part in other sports took time out every so often to see what was happening on the football field. The question was easily answered: Eastbourne Town were putting on an authoritative display to power past their visitors Dartford and so progress to the next qualifying round of the FA Women’s Cup.

It was 6-0 at half time. The first goal was a sweet strike from Catherine Hyland after seven minutes.  The Dartford goalie made some neat stops and the defence tackled hard but they just could not clear the ball deep enough or retain possession long enough.  Town were relentless.  It really looked like we could be heading for a record margin of victory (at least a personal one – for a women’s game my most one-sided game finished 8-1).  That that didn’t materialise was due to a combination of a switch of fortune (posts were struck, balls drifted just wide) and a step up in harrying defence from Dartford who put a proper shift in to restrict their hosts to only one more goal: Meg Woods adding a seventh on 66 minutes.

At half time, whilst snaffling a coffee from the committee room (I had permission) the conversation turned to Town’s chances for the season. Apparently they have struggled for goals in the past. Overrunning a side by all seven goals in seven would, on the face of it, make something of a mockery of that.  But they will be aware that there will be tougher tests ahead in the season, not least Aylesford who they will face in the next round, also at the Saffrons.  For Dartford, they will lick their wounds and return to league football but they should, at least, take some pride in how they kept going right to the death.

I brought the camera along.  The spots of rain (and my incompetence) played havoc with the autofocus but what survives can be found here.

At the Jerwood: Quentin Blake, “The Only Way to Travel”

Back at the Jerwood and bigger than ever.  If Quentin Blake were a Hollywood star you could almost argue that this was a blockbuster. Last time we had scaled up, digitised, scans from his notebook but now we see work that he has created directly onto sheets of paper.  Some are merely quite big, others are huge.  There are also some smaller cards and, yes, notebook pieces, but what links them all is the theme of travel, of journeys and of the reasons people might move about.

There are some typical Blake-ian fun doodles: a serene man peddles his bike seemingly unaware (or at least, at ease with) the retinue of similarly calm animals in his front and rear baskets; a giant Cronenberg-esque bug acts like a jet for a bearded pilot and a jolly bunch of passengers.  These contrast with works where the journey is not pleasant and being taken under duress, at night.  On a Hokusai styled wave, filled with monsters of the deep, a little boat carries far too many people towards an uncertain destination; a series shows similarly timid groups edging along under pale coloured globes.

Now 84, Blake has produced everything in this exhibition within the past year and the energy that buzzes from them is extraordinary.  It’s a remarkable exhibition that, should you be passing the Old Town of Hastings, is one you should make every effort to see.

At the match: Hastings United v Lewes

It was this sort of game – (C) Jon Smalldon 2017, All rights reserved

And so we return to the Pilot Field where Hastings United now play in all-white and the Ryman League has turned into the Bostik League.  Clearly, following the Evo-stik North and South leagues it is essential that this level of football is sponsored by adhesives.  Smarter people than me would make a joke about stickiness.  I’ll leave that to the brains.  All I can say is that this was a tense, rather than good, game that Lewes thoroughly deserved to win and so, even though we might comment on some aspects, it’s hard to begrudge them their 2-1 win.

The first goal came in the first minute. Bouwe Bosma putting Lewes ahead from an attack on the right that left Hastings all over the shop.  Moments later they could have scored again via the same route.  In fact, every time they tried it the hosts looked vulnerable.  Hastings equalised through an eleventh minute penalty.  But nobody had really settled down even  by the time Ollie Rowes saw red for a lunging challenge ten minutes before the break.  Hastings down to ten men ran hard without really threatening any more (I don’t think there was a genuine save from the Lewes goalie in the second half) but Lewes’ greater assurance didn’t translate into dominance.  Their winning goal came within twelve minutes of the restart and they really should have added to it but the second half, like the first, didn’t actually feature that much football.

What the 699 watching (highest in the division by over 400) saw instead had plenty of guts and passion, and plenty of controversy too.  To be honest, that’s a lot more fun that technical majesty even if the end product was jagged rather than coherent.  So this was all quite fun even if you’d not necessarily recommend anyone to watch it again if the opportunity presented itself.

I went along with the older, autistic, boy.  He only once had to comment on my swearing so clearly I was better behaved than usual.  I brought along the camera and the photos are here.

Film review: Lady MacBeth

Taking its title from Lady Macbeth of the Mtensk District, the novella by Nikolia Leskov, rather than the character by Shakespeare (or, indeed, the wife of the actual King Macbeth of Scotland), this is a tough, bleak but ultimately compelling film whose success comes from its pared down storytelling, its beautiful set-design and direction and, more importantly, a performance for the ages from Florence Pugh.

Let’s just say the plot doesn’t have many laughs.   On the rare occasions the characters do laugh it is because they are committing acts of particular cruelty.  The estate labourers have a chuckle because they are sexually abusing the maid.  Katherine Lester (Pugh) has been, following a very reluctant marriage, been put in something approaching charge, as her domineering men have abandoned her. She has been friends with Anna the abused servant.  However, with her own attempt at a laugh, she sides not with her female maid but with the estate labourers.  Or at least the one with whom she can begin a passionate, and obviously twisted (it’s that kind of film), sexual relationship.  This decision made the destruction of everyone ensues.  Calmly shown and revealed in fleeting moments of action in amongst the silences, the looks and the occasional flashes of light that pour, unexpectedly into the house.

Lady Macbeth looks mostly like a series Hammershoi paintings.  Tableaux in intriguingly-lit rooms, people moving tentatively along corridors or almost out of sight.  The story moves almost casually.  If people were saying or doing nicer things it would be a particularly well-realised period piece.  That this brutal work is always watchable owes much to its central performance.   With a simplicity of movement but a defiance of tone, Florence Pugh gives Katherine Lester the complexity the role needs.  Her motivation is always to secure the privilege that she sees others enjoy and we’re left in no doubt that others would brutalise her as she brutalises others.  It’s very much a world of take what you can before others take it from you.

So, a rather brilliant little film.  But not one I’ll be hurrying to watch again.

At the match: Southern Vipers beat Yorkshire Diamonds by 30 runs

Yorkshire Diamonds batting against Southern Vipers – (C) Jon Smalldon 2017, All rights reserved

And so to Arundel. And a bloody big queue. The old ‘followed the crowd and I ended up in Tesco’ joke might have had to be deployed because the obstruction in the picturesque town was not because of a traffic blocking level of interest in the final day of the Kia Super League but because the August Festival meant the roads were shut.  Thus, after some swearing, I made it to the cricket ground with the match already four overs old.  Still, mustn’t grumble.

There was a fair crowd here though and what they saw was a match that felt close at times but in which, throughout, the hosts always seemed to have the edge.  Hayley Matthews and Mignon du Preez were responsible for 90 of the Vipers’ 138 runs.  The next top scorer was Extras.  Still, it felt like a more than suitable total and so it proved.  The Diamonds lost wickets fairly regularly and when Katherine Brunt was unluckily run out on 42 that was that.  There were some decent shots and plenty of potential but the Vipers, in their wide awake tangerine, were altogether sharper.

This is the final match of the group stage.  It is something of a farce that the regular season lasts a mere five games.  These groups come together for such a short time it must be very hard to gel.  There was a more than decent turnout today which must surely be a good argument, along with playing standards and the need for more competitive fixtures, to at least make it a home and away 10 game season and then have four on finals day.  The ECB could revisit their pledge to incorporate a fifty over element alongside the T20 as well.

But enough griping.  The sun shone brightly and the cricket was good.  Even though Yorkshire lost, I left in good spirits.  I even managed not to swear at anyone as I fought my way through the festival traffic and back to the pleasures of the A27 in August.

Some photos are here. (Cricinfo scorecard here.)


At the match: Banbury United v Dorchester Town

There’s a cross coming in … – (C) Jon Smalldon 2017, All rights reserved

Banbury’s red and yellow ground never looks subdued but it’s positively garish when the summer sun hits it at the start of the season.  Maybe it was that brightness that got in the eyes of Dorchester’s defenders, or maybe it was some kind of early season jitters, or maybe, just maybe, they really are in for a very long season indeed. Their loyal band of followers will have had much to mull over as they completed their 300 mile round trip to watch their boys get splatted 5-1.

Five. One. Banbury will be delighted. Or, at least, their fans will be. The manager seemed to find plenty to fault. Hardly surprising given that for most of the ninety minutes the game didn’t even have the intensity of a pre-season knockabout. With a few honourable exceptions Dorchester didn’t look up to it today, so how to judge how good a side the redmen really are? Impossible to say. Two tap ins inside the opening ten minutes and then a flow of three more before a late-ish penalty offered the visitors a sliver of consolation. Banbury found it hard to keep their shape and harder still to stay motivated to the end. At least the crowd had the pleasure of a win and the latest news from Chelsea’s home loss to Burnley to keep them engaged.

I took along my camera and the photos are here.

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