88 posts categorised "Event"

Are Comic Books Art?

That is the question our Art Gallery at the Museum is asking for the next couple of months with their new exhibition, Dave McKean: A Retrospective.

Dave McKean A Retrospective at the Art Gallery

Opening tonight (Thursday) and open to all from the 24th of January until the 30th of March, the new exhibition showcases a terrific range of work from a local working artist. From album covers, to comic books, to children's illustrations, to movie posters, and everything in between, the broad gamut of styles and talent on show is something to behold.

Dave McKean Leaflet

This is a bit of a departure for the Art Gallery - something a bit different from their more traditional displays of the past. It's a showcase of work that they hope will appeal to a younger and wider audience, and one that will challenge your view of art.

When I got talking to Jeremy and Liz, the two people that helped to get the display into the gallery, it's quite clear that this is something they are all really excited about. Please, if you can, grab either of them when you go along and pick their brains about the work on show, they are both so enthusiastic and knowledgable and you'll get a little bit extra out of the exhibition as a result I promise. Even if you don't though, you are in for a real treat.

As Liz gave me a personal mini-tour I was most taken by the enormous range of techniques on show, particularly impressive were the three-dimensional pieces which were then converted into two-dimensional cover art, later made easier with the advent of Photoshop. Most noticeable of all though was the fact that Dave McKean never seems to stick to the same style or look yet retains that underlying darkness to his work, especially evident in the children's illustrations - tell me that they wouldn't have struck the fear of God into you for your entire childhood. I think it shows the professionalism of an artist working for exactly what a client wants whilst still retaining his own character.

Dave McKean A Retrospective at the Art Gallery

As well as the main exhibition there are some themed events running at the Art Gallery, Library, and Museum over the coming weeks too:

Maus and the Holocaust by Dr Axel Stahler - Monday 27th January - £6.
Getting into Graphic Art Career Panel - Thursday 13th February - Free.
Women in Comics: Roundtable Talk/Debate - Saturday 8th March - Free.

It's quite an apt exhibition too as a new comic book store, the Comic Café, has opened on Camden Road recently, so if do you get a bit excited by all the graphic art on display then you can pop along there to fill your boots. There are also some of Dave McKean's books for sale in the Museum shop and Waterstones mentioned to me they might get in a few more copies just in case too.

Those lovely people at the Art Gallery and Museum have given me two free tickets to give away to the Maus and the Holocaust talk by Dr Axel Stahler on Monday 27th January. Just leave a comment below to enter, be sure to leave your name. Competition is now closed.

Regardless of whether you are a graphic novel fan or not I heartily encourage you to visit this exhibition, especially if you've never ventured into the Art Gallery before. Oh, and don't forget to fill in the "Are Comic Books Art?" questionnaire after you've seen the exhibit too.

Get Your Skates On

Time to unleash your inner Torvill and Dean, load up some Bolero onto your iPod, and head for Calverley Grounds. The ice is frozen and ready to go.

Calverley Grounds Christmas Ice Rink 2013

One of the best things about the ice rink (book online) this year, apart from the fun of gliding around the ice, all the great stalls, and the chance to watch your friends and family fall on their backsides, is the seals.

The what?

The seals. The bright orange skating aids that are shaped like seals.

Why are they one of the best things then?

Well, there are two very special seals on the ice this year. One is called Anke, and one is called Betty (Mrs Anke). They actually named two of them after us. How cool is that! Mrs Anke and I went down to the launch to see the opening ceremony and meet our pinniped namesakes.

Calverley Grounds Christmas Ice Rink 2013

No doubt you are really excited about getting down there yourself for a skate so if you end up sliding about the ice with either Anke the Seal or Betty the Seal then we'd love for you to send us a photo, or even post it onto our Facebook page. We'd love to see and share as many as possible so see you on the ice!

Go see some photos of the launch night.

To celebrate the opening our great friends at the ice rink have given me a family ticket (2 adults and 2 children) worth £36 to give away! To win the ticket all you have to do is either leave a comment below or share this post on Facebook. Easy! Competition is now closed.

The Big Christmas Lights Switch On!

Jordon O'Keefe, Abi Alton, and Micky Parsons visited Royal Victoria Place this evening to perform a few songs to a deafening crowd and to switch on the Christmas lights, all hosted by Heart FM's James and Charlie.

Royal Victoria Place Christmas Lights Switch On

Enough talk, click the photo above or the text below to go see all of the photographs of the night.

Click here to see the photos.

Bandages and Benevolence, the NHS at 65

To mark the 65th Anniversary of the NHS, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust held a special event at Tunbridge Wells Hospital on Friday morning.

Planting new monkey puzzle tree at hospital

Richard Grasby, Lady De L'Isle, and Janet Grasby plant the new monkey puzzle tree.

The event was held at the old Victorian Workhouse chapel overlooking the new hospital with around 50 special guests attending.

In the magnificent surroundings of the chapel the morning began with speeches from Anthony Jones, Chairman of the local NHS Trust; John Weeks, NHS Trust Emergency Planning Manager; Baroness Emerton, now of the House of Lords but previously Chief Nursing Officer of the NHS and Commander of the St. John Ambulance; The Marquess of Abergavenny; Lady De L'Isle, President of the Friends at Pembury Hospital; and the hospital Chief Executive Glenn Douglas.

After the talks everyone moved outside into the sunshine for the first of the main events, the Marquess of Abergavenny unveiling the original stone tablet from the old Kent & Sussex Hospital. This giant one-tonne stone used to adorn a wall of one of the corridors of the old building and now that it has been cleaned up and laid into the lawn in front of the chapel it looked really rather marvellous. It was a very fitting occasion for the Marquess as the stone was originally given to the old hospital in 1948 by his family to mark the beginning of the NHS.

Bandages and Benevolence

The Marquess of Abergavenny with the 1948 stone tablet.

Shortly after, two monkey puzzle trees, donated by Bedgebury Pinetum, were planted beside the stone by Lady De L’Isle and members of the Grasby family. Dr Grasby was the last Medical Officer of the Workhouse here, and in 1935 his young daughter Janet helped plant a tree at Pembury Hospital to commemorate the Jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary – she returned today to help plant the new trees, 78 years later. Sadly that original tree had to be removed to make way for the helipad at the new hospital.

The original foundation stone of the old Kent & Sussex Hospital had been transferred here too and now stands alongside one of the footpaths, it has also been cleaned up and looks tremendous in its new surroundings amongst the pretty wildflower beds. It used to contain a time capsule but this was unfortunately badly damaged by water and the contents ruined. A new time capsule was created which included copies of staff and patient magazines, drawings by local children, a copy of the Courier newspaper from the day the new hospital opened, and a new book on the history of local hospitals. Baroness Emerton placed the new time capsule into the stone.

Hang on, I hear you shout, what new book? Well this is the part of the morning that I have been looking forward to for over a year. John Weeks, officially launched his new book, Bandages & Benevolence - The History of the Tunbridge Wells Hospitals. John has spent the past five years researching material for the book, calling on the NHS Trust's archives as well as personal memories from staff that walked the wards. John tells the tale of the history of the hospitals all the way from its origins as a small High Street Dispensary in 1828 to the ultra-modern £250million site in Pembury today, and to think it all started when he found some old photographic slides in a skip.

Bandages and Benevolence

John Weeks with his new book.

I have only had a chance to start the book but I am unbelievably impressed already, especially by the terrific historical photographs and diagrams.

The book is available now from Tunbridge Wells and Maidstone Hospital (7am-7pm in the hospital restaurants), Amazon, Waterstones, or send a cheque for £10 (P&P free!) to:

Bandages & Benevolence Book
Emergency Planning Unit
Level 3
Tunbridge Wells Hospital
Tonbridge Road
Pembury, Kent

I urge you to give a copy a place in your Tunbridge Wells book collection.

Click to see a gallery of photos of today's event.

So Debate a Difference

Tonight was the long-awaited debate and presentation from So Create A Difference.

So Create a Difference Debate in Trinity Theatre

Robert Adam, architect responsible for the Ritz Cinema site.

Back in January the So Create a Difference team, along with twenty local architects, held an exhibition of concepts for the future of our town. You can read more about it here but the general gist of it was to encourage the community to get involved by contributing ideas of what they want to see happen architecturally in the future.

An amazing 600+ people attended the exhibition and contributed their visions for various town centre sites. The exciting array of ideas that were generated were put together into a book that was to be presented to the Council at a future debate. Tonight was that debate.

At tonight's event in Trinity Theatre, the team of Tunbridge Wells-based architects were joined by architect Robert Adam and Chris Lamb, Chief Executive of the Kent Architecture Centre, who both gave talks on their areas of expertise which were intended to give people other ways of seeing and the vocabulary to describe it. Then came the interesting bit - the spotlight was turned towards the assembled crowd of about 100 people.

So Create a Difference Debate in Trinity Theatre

Arms were thrust into the air to pitch questions to the panel. Alas I think some of these "questions" veered into rant territory a bit too much for my liking. The majority of people were interested in hearing the Council's thoughts or asking why nothing has been done about grot spots. The topic of why our town isn't celebrated as a spa town was also mentioned, but the most interesting of all was pitched from a newcomer to our town - "Why has nothing been done about the Ritz Cinema site?"

This led to the admission from speaker Robert Adam that he had a personal interest in the site. It turns out he is the architect charged with its future development. Cue much piqued interest from the crowd.

Mr Adam said he couldn't reveal too many details but things are progressing. Slowly. His team are on the 26th revision of the site plan and the main delays are to do with a few things: the tunnel running under the site, the challenges in signing prospective tenants, and the lack of access to the site for construction traffic. The only way onto the site for all those dirty trucks and huge equipment is via the busy Church Road junction and you can imagine the chaos that is going to cause.

So Create a Difference Debate in Trinity Theatre

Time constraints meant that only a handful could have their questions answered by the panel. Personally I felt that there was a little too much time spent in hearing the presentations of Robert Adam and Chris Lamb, whilst they were indeed very interesting I thought more time was needed for debating. But at least the ideas are out there now and the Council knows just how passionate we all are about our town. Let's hope it makes a difference.

Click here to see lots of photographs from the debate and also see who attended and asked the questions.


  • I am a spritely 30-something living with my beautiful wife in the most fabulous town in the entire world, Royal Tunbridge Wells.

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