Re-inventing seaside towns : a response

The De La Warr Pavilion is very interested in the House of Lords report regarding seaside towns, released today.

Stewart Drew, director and CEO of the De La Warr Pavilion says :
“Some seaside towns have been reinventing themselves for decades including the town in which we sit, Bexhill- on- Sea. The De La Warr Pavilion has been at the forefront of culture led regeneration since the 1930s, with a Bauhaus style approach to looking after and developing mind, body and soul. It is interesting that the Ministry of Health were major funders back in 1935; you need to look no further than the De La Warr Pavilion for a plan to help address challenges around wellbeing and mental health, with a model that continues to evolve today. The progressive partnership between our local authority, Rother District Council and  Arts Council England, with support from East Sussex County Council should not be overlooked – it has continued with bold investment in the challenging times of austerity.

The Pavilion now sets itself a refreshed vision as a flagship cultural and social hub. With our partners Beaming, we provide free high speed broadband to our 400k + (per year) audiences, are active in our Local Enterprise Partnership, and work closely with community partners and networks to create social cohesion and confidence. We are proud to play a leadership role within the local and regional visitor and tourism economy. We present challenging visual arts (including tours to the Grundy Art Gallery in Blackpool) and music programmes including the national experimental music network, outlands.network); 55% of our audiences say they visit us to be intellectually stimulated, 52% to learn something and 40% to be inspired.

There is still lots to do, and one shouldn’t be fooled by the South East England location – some of our communities are in the top 10-20% indices of deprivation and we continue respond to the challenges of a post 2008 era. However Bexhill is also a tight, entrepreneurial community with a strong heart and sense of civic pride. Tomorrow, we run our fourth annual Jobs and Apprenticeships Fair as a community led, not for profit event – working with the Coastal Community Team, Chamber of Commerce, local authority, Hastings Direct, Bexhill College and Huw Merriman MP. Exhibitors range from Rotary and Lions clubs, to National Rail and Bovis homes. It’s a jobs fair where you can actually get a job (or apprenticeship, training opportunities or just advice) and over 120 people have taken up employed positions since we started the event with hundreds of young (and older) people being introduced to new possibilities in our local area.”

Huw Merriman, Member of Parliament for Bexhill and Battle says:
“I fully welcome this report by the House of Lords. There is no one size fits all model for regenerating coastal towns as each town is different. What works in Blackpool is not necessarily going to work in Bexhill on Sea.
Bexhill on Sea has its own unique set of assets and challenges. We therefore need to look carefully at these to decide how we can make our town work for its residents and visitors for generations to come. There is already a lot of great work and regeneration happening in the town including the north Bexhill housing and commercial area development as well as the new link roads and the seafront. We now need to focus on the needs of the town centre and the high streets to make it a more attractive place to visit, work and enjoy leisure time. That is why I am working closely with local stakeholders including Rother District Council, East Sussex County Council, Transport for the South East and our iconic De La Warr Pavilion along with the business, tourism and voluntary sectors to make our case for improvements in local A roads, rail services and mobile/broadband networks that will incentivise growth. I’m pleased that Rother Council is looking towards the future in developing a new town centre strategy for Bexhill. I hope that local residents will get fully involved in the consultation process”

Tomorrow we have our fourth annual Bexhill Jobs and Apprenticeships Fair at the De La Warr Pavilion. This is a great example of a successful community-led initiative of which I’m very proud to be closely involved. I’m looking forward to meeting the wide range of exhibitors who are taking part and highlighting that Bexhill is full of exciting opportunities and ready for growth.”

For further Press information please contact Sally Ann Lycett on sally.ann.lycett@dlwp.com 07889730733

Notes to Editors:
1. The De La Warr Pavilion is a National Portfolio Organisation funded by a partnership between Rother District Council and Arts Council England as well as support from Trusts, Foundations and individuals.

In 2013 Rother District Council, in a challenging economic climate, took the bold step to confirm their core revenue funding for seven years (until 2020/21). This commitment reinforces the Pavilion’s ongoing role in culture-led regeneration for the region and place-making for Bexhill.

2. The De La Warr Pavilion is a pioneering centre for the arts where everyone can experience contemporary exhibitions, events and entertainment in an iconic Modernist building on England’s south coast. Conceived in 1935 as a democratic space for art, culture and recreation, its unique, purposeful and progressive design became the original model for London’s south bank and remains a vibrant hub for creativity, opportunity and community today. Run by a Charitable Trust, we provide integrated cultural programmes that are accessible and relevant and which encourage exploration, collaboration and innovation as well as spaces where artists and audiences can meet, engage and share their thinking and ideas. Offering free access to exhibitions all year round, plus live performances, a dynamic learning and participation programme, indoor and outdoor events, and bespoke venue hire, we aim to live up to the name given to us by our audiences when we first opened – the People’s Pavilion.

3. Read the House of Lords report on the future of seaside towns here

Paul Merton’s Impro Chums Interviewed by Brian Donaldson

Paul Merton, Lee Simpson, Richard Vranch, Suki Webster, Mike McShane and accompanist Kirsty Newton are back on the road in 2019 to visit some of their favourite parts of the UK with another evening of mind-blowing improvisation.

See them live at DLWP on Saturday 6 April.

Tickets here

Paul Merton has been at the forefront of the UK improvisation scene across four decades. Having appeared in the first ever episode of Whose Line is it Anyway? on Channel 4 in 1988, and as a founder member of the legendary Comedy Store Players, he went on to create Paul Merton’s Impro Chums who have starred at several Edinburgh Fringes and taken their adlibbing ways on tour across Britain to great acclaim. The longstanding line-up of Paul, Mike McShane, Suki Webster, Richard Vranch and Lee Simpson, has been added to in the shape of keyboard player Kirsty Newton. As the group prepares for its latest national tour, they discuss the explosion of new improvisation acts, the pleasures of getting around the country on a luxury bus, and whether any preparation is possible for an improvised show . . .

What would you say are the main differences between putting together a written show and performing a show that’s entirely improvised?

Paul: The difference between this and a written show is that the latter takes a lot of pre-thought and hard work, and if you’ve got a bit that doesn’t work, you think “how am I going to fix that?” With impro, there are no bits to worry about because they don’t exist yet.

Suki: There’s a joy in both, but this is like being on tour with your best friends and playing like six-year-olds, and it’s fabulously good fun. The joy of a script is that whether you’re acting you get to hone and perfect a performance and with writing it’s the same thing; in impro there are always going to be little mistakes, that’s part of it.

Paul: In written pieces, if there’s a very funny line that always gets a big laugh you’ve got to try and get that same laugh every night while making it sound like you’ve never said it before, so there are different sets of challenges.

Mike: When you get an established script and you work on it to make it seem like there’s a real human exchange in real time, whereas impro is a real human exchange in real time. Once you’ve established the characters, the content is developing as you go.

Do you watch any of the other impro groups that have cropped up in recent times?

Suki: I don’t watch masses but I do guest with lots: I love being invited to guest with all sorts of groups, it’s great fun. It’s good to work with other people and get new ideas. I think there was an increase initially because of the success of Whose Line…? and now with the success of Showstoppers and Austentatious, so other people think that this might be a path in.

Richard: Also it’s not just performers who do it. People who have day jobs and business people do it as a hobby or as therapy or perhaps for team building, so it’s spread outside the community of people who do this for a living.

Mike: Those sophisticated examples such as Showstoppers and Austentatious found success in the form of narrative improv instead of game improv like Whose Line…? and us, and that brings a more sophisticated audience and demands to keep it interesting. It keeps growing and getting better and having more history behind it, which can only keep inspiring people.

Is there any kind of preparation you can do before you go onstage?

Paul: For me, the preparation is having done it for 30 years.

Suki: We will do a one minute warm-up of Whoops, the first game of every Chums show, where somebody is pointed at and has to pick up the sentence.

Paul: That loosens you a bit and it reminds us when we’re playing a larger venue to not talk so quickly at first. Don’t be slow but be clear. Be pacy but not too quick.

Richard: Having done it so many times before with the same team, that trust in each other is solid and unshakeable and we’re confident in each other. People say that working together as a team makes it easier because you know what the other one is going to say. But in fact it’s the opposite: it makes it easier because we trust not to have to know what the other one is going to say. It’s not that we’ve got a code, it’s that we can wing it because of experience and trust.

Do you ever analyse what’s happened during an Impro Chums show or is it a case of once it’s done, you just forget about it?

Mike: We have a little post-mortem to talk about how something might have been more effective, but that’s about it.

Paul: The danger with doing the same games every time is that you can fall into a pattern about how you play them and you want to avoid that as much as possible. On tour, we mix up which games we do and who’s doing which games.

Richard: People come up to you afterwards and say “oh, we’d loved the bit with the so and so” and I have no idea what they mean.

Paul: Because it’s not something you have to remember, then you just don’t. You don’t even send a conscious command of “brain-wipe-delete”. It all just goes.

What are the pros and cons of touring?

Lee: I live outside London so I often travel separately, but Paul treats us to a big old rock and roll tour bus with beds, TV, a kitchen, on-board loo. It’s an indulgence but it’s absolutely wonderful; there’s a real camaraderie and fun to be had. We all do different things. Some go to the back of the bus and watch DVDs.

Paul: Having a bus means that we can get back to London and go to sleep in your own bed, so that saves on hotel bills. When you’re doing all these dates, you want to cut down on stress as much as possible, such as constantly waking up in hotel rooms and wondering what city you’re in and missing home. So if you can get home, even if it’s 2 or 3 in the morning, it’s still more preferable to hotel rooms.

Richard: And comfortable transport means we arrive at the gig in very good condition and that makes a huge difference. Panicking because a train has been cancelled and worrying whether we can get to the gig in time is not a good way to prepare yourself for a show where you’ve got to be creative.

What are the particular musical challenges to the show?

Kirsty: The main challenge is when I have to make something up from nothing and I think “what I’ll do now is this, and that might be funny.” And other times, it’ll be more like “let’s find out what’s going to happen.”

Richard: In a verbal scene, someone says something and another person has to come back with something else and the exact same exchange is happening between music and singing. The co-operation is more evident because they’re in the same rhythm and pitch but it’s the same thing.

Kirsty: It’s really important that you’ve been listening. Sometimes I’ve been enjoying a scene so much, and I have to remember that I’m not just here to watch.

Paul: The audience love the musical bits and when Mike and Suki are singing in film and theatre styles and there’s a musical number or Gilbert & Sullivan, the audience love it. It’s a real crowd-pleasing element.

Kirsty: It’s still a magical thing for an audience to come and see something being created right in front of them. I’ve heard a lot of audience members say “surely they had worked something out beforehand?”

Paul: To be able to play music is an ability and a gift that a lot of people don’t have and they admire it even more than just the verbal stuff: the lyrics and the tune just happen and it sounds like the showstopper of the year!

Suki: It’s sorcery!

Glorified cheese on toast? Try Welsh Rarebit recipe by our Head Chef Ryan.

Welsh Rarebit was originally called ‘Welsh Rabbit’ in the 18th century. It is possible that it originated in the South Wales Valleys but you can enjoy our version right here overlooking the Sussex coastline.

I put Welsh Rarebit on the menu towards the end of my first spell at De La Warr Pavilion as sous chef around five years ago. It has remained a firm favourite and the accompaniments and garnishes change with the seasons. If my memory serves me right, we originally served it with watercress salad and heritage tomatoes. On our current menu, the team and myself are serving it with streaky bacon, truffled leeks and a fried egg. The addition of egg essentially making it a Buck Rarebit.

Take the indulgence of the extra mature cheddar, the warm spike of the red chillis, the maltiness of the Harveys Ale and the kick of the English mustard and you have much more than ‘glorified cheese on toast’ !

Try with Harveys Best Bitter.

welsh rarebit de la warr dlwp food menu bexhill

Recipe. Serves two.

Ingredients

-Yesterday’s loaf of bread. One or two thick slices per person.
200g mature Cheddar (grated)
½ tbsp butter
½ white onion (finely diced)
½ red chilli (finely diced; with seeds removed if you don’t want it too hot)
100ml craft beer or ale (we use Harveys Best Bitter from down the road in Lewes)
1tsp English mustard
1 egg yolk
Optional: splash of Lea and Perrins (we choose not to use this in order to keep it suitable for vegetarians)

Method

-Sweat off the onions and red chillis on a medium heat for a few minutes to soften with no colour.
-Pour in the ale and reduce down so that it is coating the onions and chilli’s (about 5 minutes).
-Add the grated cheese and mix to a melted, cheesy goo!
-Take off the heat and add the mustard and the Lea and Perrins (if using). Season generously.
-When it has cooled down a little, add the egg yolk.
-Toast the bread lightly both sides and spread the mixture generously over one side.
-Pop under a medium to hot grill until it bubbles and turns brown!
-Perfect on its own, with a green salad, topped with bacon or a fried egg!

Enjoy!

OPEN DOORS: introducing young people to local career options

Throughout November we hosted visits from students attending St.Mary’s School & College, Saxon Mount School and Heathfield Community College as part of the Open Doors 2018 programme, coordinated by Skills East Sussex and The Career & Enterprise Company.

This programme enables Year 7 – Year 13 students to visit business premises, meet employees and learn about the variety of local career options and pathways. Feedback from students proves that these visits have a strong impact on behavior and attainment. Furthermore, studies state that by having encounters with employers at least once a year, students are more likely to have higher aspirations, stay in education and earn better salaries.

At De La Warr Pavilion, students toured the building and met a range of staff members working across the organisation including Events Manager, Naomi Scully; Events Coordinator Brogan Carpenter; Production Managers Suzi Antik and Joshua Jupp; Fundraiser, Dan Scales;  Digital Marketing Coordinator, Lizzie Benians; Director of External Relations, Sally Ann Lycett; Chief Executive, Stewart Drew and Head of Learning & Participation, Ashley McCormick.

Students interviewed staff members to find out everything from what qualifications and skills they needed to do their job, to blunders they made in their interviews, to their favourite aspect of their work. Students were surprised by some staff members routes into work. For instance, fundraiser, Dan, revealed that he studied History at University, which kindled an interest in politics and policy making, leading him to work in the charities sector. He cited communication skill, specifically in essay writing as very important for his role. Events Coordinator, Brogan, explained that 4 years as cabin crew on long haul flights honed her customer service skills and ability to keep calm in stressful situations. Production Manager, Suzi, disclosed her early ambitions to be an actress. However, she soon grew bored of ‘treading the boards’ and developed a fascination with in technical production aspect of theatre, including lighting, rigging, sound and stage pyrotechnics!

Students left with a more thorough understanding of how this arts organisation works and the vast array of careers available to them in the cultural sector. Some students made enquiries about volunteering and work experience opportunities, so we hope they will return to join our teams very soon!

Our involvement in the Open Doors programme, combined with our work experience provision and participation in school careers fairs has earned us an East Sussex Industry Champion badge celebrating our commitment to furthering skills in East Sussex.

This was the second year we have been involved in Open Doors. We aim to make these visits an annual occurrence and grow visits in 2019. If you would like to arrange an Open Doors visit for students please contact Kimberley.Bulgin@eastsussex.gov.uk

The Mother Lode Project

I was delighted to be invited to run a pilot workshop for The Mother Lode Project at the De La Warr Pavilion on Sunday 21st October to complement their exhibition, “A Tale of Mother’s Bones: Grace Pailthorpe, Reuben Mednikoff and the birth of Psychorealism.” As the exhibition coincided with the planning of The Mother Lode Project, it fitted in perfectly.

A group of six mothers, whose children ranged in age from 3 to 45, shared their experiences of motherhood in a safe, confidential space. They were led through a series of writing and drawing exercises using the exhibition as a starting point and exploring their own experiences of motherhood. One mother wrote, “Being a mother means joy, happiness, excitement. Experiencing life through another’s eyes. The joy of firsts (shared) again and again. Worry. Fear. Guilt. Trying to do the right thing, the best thing, the good enough thing. Mental health struggles. Shouting too much. Sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m human too. The dread of what will happen when I die and who will look after my dependent child. Guilt because it will have to be my other children. Putting yourself last. Finding myself again. It’s worth it.”

Another wrote, “Being a mother means sacrifice. I didn’t think this would be true because of the stereotype of the self-sacrificing housewife and mother. I always fought against this image of motherhood because my own mother gave up a very successful career to look after us, which was very kind of her but she always seemed frustrated and pent up and not really happy, although she played at being happy all the time. I thought it would be different for me.”

Before beginning one of the drawing exercises, I invited the mothers to think of something that made them incredibly angry and to channel that anger onto the page. They then scrumpled it up and threw it across the room. Rage is not something that mothers are encouraged to show, and rage in women is frequently looked down upon in society, so this exercise provided an outlet for pent-up feelings that might not otherwise be expressed. The drawings were later burned, mirroring Grace Pailthorpe’s method of asking her students to draw in this manner before burning them and starting on another drawing once their negative feelings had been purged.

The mothers were then asked to choose an object from a basket of domestic objects reminiscent of motherhood, including a spinning top, a pine-cone, a toy truck and a doll. In the same way that Pailthorpe and Mednikoff would allow images and symbols to grow into a wider image, they were asked to draw the object with their non-dominant hand, then allow shapes and colours to emerge to create something else.

One mother said, “I don’t often get to talk about the most important thing I ever did in my life so it was good to do that.” Another said, “Wonderful permission to connect with our own feelings. I felt safe to express myself. An eye-opener and starting point to continue thinking on the subject and an inspiration for future work.”

Written by Xaverine M A Bates
All words & images reproduced with permission from the participants

Councillor Stuart Earl

We are very sad to hear of  the passing of Councillor Stuart Earl. He will be remembered for his unfailing service to the residents of Bexhill, both as a member of the Council, as a local business owner and his commitment to so many local charities. He was a regular visitor to the Pavilion, either attending a charity event, promoting a good cause or meeting friends and colleagues in the Café. We were always pleased to see Cllr Earl and support his work.

Stewart Drew, Director & CEO said ‘I remember being warmly welcomed by Stuart when I first joined the Pavilion team and was always grateful for his support and advice over the years. His championing of the Bexhill Festival of Music is fondly remembered, as well as his dedication to raising funds for Bexhill and Conquest hospitals. Our condolences go to Deirdre and the family.’

 

Bring Bayeux Tapestry back to its roots

1066 Country Marketing has joined the campaign to bring the Bayeux Tapestry back to its roots.

Stewart Drew, Chair of 1066 Country Marketing  says:

“It’s fantastic news that the Bayeux Tapestry is coming to England. This beautiful work depicts the origin of the 1066 Country story – the landing at Pevensey, the battle itself  and Hastings castle. The loan of this tapestry from France reminds us how this significant event has influenced the country we live in today. It has shaped our society, language, industry, heritage and culture.

“Why not bring the Bayeux tapestry back to its roots ? we ask. In 2016 we witnessed the 950th anniversary celebrations here. Let’s build on the interest and enthusiasm that generated.

“There’s no doubt that for 1066 Country to host one of the world’s most famous tapestries would be both apt and sensational. It would set it in the context of our special landscape, coastline, communities and cultural heritage – the very place that was pivotal in this nation-shaping event.”

1066 Country is the area in south east England that includes the towns of Hastings, Battle, Rye, Bexhill and Pevensey.

1066 Country is one of the oldest tourism agencies in the UK. It is it a private public partnership supported by, amongst others, Hasting Borough Council,  Rother District Council,  Wealden District Council and  English Heritage.

Director Stewart Drew reflects on how far DLWP has come and the opportunities ahead

I’ve attended two farewell events this week, which have prompted me to reflect on the two distinct eras of the De La Warr Pavilion over the past 20 years, and how this has shaped where we go from here.

Firstly, I was invited to Caroline Collier’s leaving drinks at Tate Britain; Caroline was Partnerships & Programmes Director since 2014, but her significant career at Tate started back in 2005, the year DLWP reopened after the major refurbishment. She was hugely instrumental at the Tate, building national and international relationships with galleries and museums and developing a solid network and support system (Plus Tate) for the visual arts sector. In Bexhill (for Tate), Caroline led on the major Artists Rooms exhibitions  Beuys is Here (2009) and, one of our top three most popular exhibitions Warhol is Here (2011/12).

Caroline was Director of the Pavilion from 1995-99, and worked closely with Rother District Council and the Friends of the Pavilion in helping to shape the organisation as we know it today. Caroline led the development of our visual arts programme, and worked extensively on the Lottery applications to help restore and increase the viability of the business model. While working on the Artist Rooms projects, she told me of her frustration that the auditorium was ultimately excluded from the Lottery applications because, on advice from the funders, it was no longer viable and the prospects were too limited.

Her successor Alan Haydon (1999 – 2011) saw through the final Lottery funding and redevelopment, but indeed the auditorium was not funded and was literally dusted off for the reopening in 2005 with facilities that were more than 20 years out of date. Alan and Live Programmer Laura Ducceschi pushed against this, launching a strong live music programme that included Patti Smith, Laurie Anderson, Goldfrapp, Margaret Leng Tan and collaborations with the Heritage Orchestra, UNKLE and Beardyman. This programme put the auditorium squarely back on the map, but lacked regularity, viability and being responsive to local audience needs.

This leads me to our second farewell event for Oliver Catchpole in Wetherspoons, Bexhill, on Thursday. Yes, the very bar chain that threatened our Grade One listed building in 2000.

Ollie, appointed in 2012, was tasked to increase the number of nights we are open, be more inclusive and diverse, and of course bring the best acts to our seaside town. I want to pay tribute to a very talented, focused programmer, who brought variety back to the Pavilion and viability to an auditorium that had previously been regarded as unworkable. We now know that the venue now bulges with audiences, with sold out gigs and that facilities that sometimes struggle to accommodate everyone’s needs (we are sorry for the bar queues and we are working hard to make them better in both the short and longer term).

Thank you to Ollie for bringing us early performances of Clean Bandit,  Jack Savoretti, Everything Everything ; gigs from classic performers such as Elvis Costello, Ray Davies, Don Maclean, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Rick Wakeman and Rumer; American iconic bands Grizzly Bear and Television; stars such as Nelly; UK icons Richard Hawley, Billy Bragg, Bonobo, Dr John Cooper Clarke, Gary Numan, OMD, Frank Turner, Wilko Johnson, Pil, and of course Chas & Dave; and some of the best comedy including Al Murray, Jason Manford, Jimmy Carr, Stewart Lee, Bill Bailey and Milton Jones.

Ollie brought family shows, NT live streaming and cinema screenings to Bexhill, not being afraid to try different things, adapting to how audiences responded and to see if box office takings would sustain the programme. He challenged us as a venue with bookings from Bullet for My Valentine, The Slaves and of course the Napalm Death collaboration with Keith Harrison (Napalm Death gig threatens structure of historic De La Warr Pavilion – The Independent). Working closely with Caleb Madden on the Dear Serge programme, this approach led to the Pavilion leading on a national network for experimental music, OUTLANDS, responding to the overwhelming commercialisation of music in the UK and the inability to take risks. OUTLANDS launches later this spring.

Despite challenges, we have seen increased investment into Bexhill, and an emerging evening economy, with new restaurants, quality bedrooms for overnight stays, extensive refurbishment of the Cooden Beach Hotel and a planning application for a central Bexhill hotel.

We know that the viability discussions in the 2000s were not without substance and that running such a programme is not without significant financial risk, not in the least in the light of the disruption of rail services which have undoubtedly affected our ticket sales.

Supporting our programme has been a team of extraordinary local individuals who run marketing, front of house operations and technical aspects of events. Our tech team have a brilliant reputation amongst tour managers nationally, leading to acts and promoters returning to us again and again. Mat Mcquade our Auditorium Tech Manager, who runs the auditorium, started on work experience from Bexhill College in 2005; Tara Neville who runs our website and social media, was a DV8 apprentice. The operation is designed to support and grow local talent.

Thank you to Caroline and Ollie for your part in our story, and to you, our audiences, in supporting our work. We’re ready for the future and will announce our new Head of Live Programme very shortly.

If you have danced, been spellbound by, nodded your head to, zoned out to, or moshed to our live programme, please join Eddie Izzard, our Honorary Patron in showing your support to the Pavilion, the programme and in building the skills of the people who run it. Here are four ways you can do this:

  • Buy a ticket here
  • Text DLWP to 70507 to donate £5 or donate here
  • Become a member and get priority booking here 
  • Tell us your favourite gig or event using the hashtag #dlwprocks on social media.

Stewart Drew
Director and CEO
De La Warr Pavilion

Ivan Chermayeff 1932 – 2017

We are very saddened to hear that one of the greatest graphic designers of our age,  Ivan Chermayeff,  passed away on 3 December. As the son of Serge Chermayeff,  the architect who with Erich Mendelsohn, designed the De La Warr Pavilion, Ivan was a friend and Patron to the Pavilion until his death, generously creating our 80th Anniversary logo in 2015.

Credited with being one of the founders of the modern profession of graphic design Ivan’s agency, Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv was responsible for some of the most iconic logos of the 20th century, including PanAm, Mobil, NBC, National Geographic and MOMA to name  just a few.

In 2014 we were thrilled to exhibit some of his more personal work in our ground floor gallery in an exhibition called Cut And Pastebringing together three generations of Chermayeffs;  the exhibition was designed by his son Sam together with his partner Johanna Mayer-Grohbrugge in the building designed by his father. This was Ivan’s first UK exhibition and  toured to Peninsula Arts, University of Plymouth and to London College of Communication as part of the London Design Festival.

The work in the show reflected his obsession with collecting scraps –  crumpled envelopes and crushed tin cans, scraps of billboards and torn newsprint, all assembled to form strange animals and abstract faces.  We then invited Ivan to design an icon for our 80th anniversary, and he presented us with a very simple, three circle mark (see below)   which was used on our print material and made into beautiful and much coveted pin.

Whilst visiting us for the opening of his exhibition, Ivan  said to the Guardian “The goal is always to make something simple and memorable. You must be as clear and direct as possible.”

We remember Ivan as a very generous and warm character with an extra-ordinary outlook on life. It was a thrill to watch Elvis Costello with him and the family in the concert hall designed by his father, and to be able to take him to his childhood home Bentley Wood, where amongst others Frank Lloyd Wright took tea on the terrace.

See above Ivan Chermayeff returning to Bentley Wood, his childhood home designed by his father, with our trustee Sean Albuquerque.

Our thoughts are with Ivan’s family.

Stewart Drew
Director and Chief Executive
De La Warr Pavilion Charitable Trust

Review of All The World’s A Sunny Day by Olivia Foskett

Artist Roy Voss presents a curious and charming exhibition of works in the De la Warr’s first floor gallery throughout the summer, with time still to pay a visit until Sunday, 8  October. Comprised of over a hundred pieces, the exhibition celebrates the lost art of handwritten correspondence and the distinctive visual language of postcards. Mass produced and recognisable by compositions which mimic classical Art, idealised scenery and vivid colours, postcards may seem an outdated and trivial item. Their significance, as Voss reveals, is in the communication which they convey. A picture of one’s location, and no more words than can be crammed into four inches by five inches of space, express a human need to bridge geographical distance, to reach out to one’s loved ones and thus to familiarity, from across land or sea. While we may dismiss or underestimate these uncostly slips of mail, a small painting and an anecdote have the power to remind us that we are never truly very far from home. Most common in a recent but waning era in which international travel was not as easy and common as it is now, postcards are relics of a time in which we were, almost childlike, both excited and intimidated by distance.

This innate and heartfelt simplicity is highlighted in a similarly uncomplicated manner by Voss’s collage creations. Voss cuts out a single word, one selected by the artist which sums up both the frontal image and the experience which is inscribed overleaf, and replaces it backwards into it’s window within the picture, replacing a small area almost like a cluster of pixels with words. This exchange of colour and shape for a combination of letters highlights the power of description to act in the very same way as a visual image in transporting a person’s imagination.

The chosen words in question are poignantly thought provoking. Voss seems to expertly play on the human tendency to second guess the meaning of details, by presenting some out of context. For instance, one collage features the word ‘blue’; does this refer to the blue of the sky and the ocean, or to the ‘blue’ mood of the writer in their absence, I have wondered. Another features the tranquil, exotic green scenery of a valley, and the word ‘long’, which may describe the physical geography, the distance or the duration of time for which the writer has travelled, or indeed can be read as the verb form, suggesting that the writer ‘longs’ for something. Perhaps the company of the one to whom they are writing. In short, Voss’s engagement with language serves to bring to light the fundamental emotions that we as the viewer have in common not only with the anonymous writers, but with each other. Moreover, he leaves sufficient room for mystery to tease out our own feelings, the assumptions we make about the elusive true meaning of the solitary written words perhaps reflecting some inner truth of our own. Your interpretation might differ from mine, and from this we may glean something of ourselves.

The appeal of this exhibition is rooted in its sense of nostalgia and personal connection, yet also in the theme and the dynamic visual style of Travel. And indeed, the layout of the exhibition space underpins both of these elements effectively. The large white space housing the almost miniature scale artworks is minimalist and open, the blank, light environment somehow emphasising the effect of the vivid colours which come forth form their two-dimensional rectangles. Crystalline blues, verdant greens and blazing oranges indicative of holiday sunsets all evoke our common memories of adventures and travel, the childhood memories which somehow are rendered forever in spectacular technicolour by the youth with which we once perceived them.

The effect of this interaction of tiny artworks and a large space is that the viewer is compelled to physically approach each piece individually, thus a sense of intimacy is created and as the viewer you feel almost as if the post card had just arrived for you personally. The continuous row of collages travelling around the perimeter of the open space also creates a kind of storyline along which the viewer moves, taking in a disjointed and yet simultaneously cohesive series of snapshots into anonymous identities and experiences. The small scale of the collages in the vast gallery space casts the impression that they are tiny windows into memories shrunken or grown distant with time.

I recommend a visit to Roy Voss’s Exhibition, All the World’s A Sunny Day, merely to find out your own interpretation of the curious collage creations in addition to enjoying the plethora of other themes which you may find intriguing and thought provoking. Given the time to draw you in, this exhibition will bring a smile to your face, be it one of nostalgia, curiosity, or simple visual enjoyment of the largely forgotten distinctive, colourful and idealised style of postcard imagery.

Review by Olivia Foskett, Invigilator, De La Warr Pavilion

Roy Voss : All The World’s A Sunny Day continues in the First Floor Gallery until Sunday 8 October

Photo by Rob Harris