Friday, 3 July 2009

Pasties Are Better Than Comics


Two local comic artists have contributed to an independent comic inspired by the humble pasty.

Celebrating this lunch time staple of Cornish miners, students and many others (yet ruined by many a bakery who have no idea what a Cornish pasty really should taste like), indie British creator Rob Jackson has just launched the 28-page The Pasty Anthology, which features contributions from Rob himself, Judge Dredd Magazine writer Matt Badham, Jim Medway,
Steve Butler, Francesca Cassavetti - and local artists Dave Hughes and Ant Mercer.

The Pasty Anthology available from Rob's web site, priced only £2.50 (PayPal accepted), free postage in the UK.

"I mentioned a random idea on my blog for a Pasty based story ('The Story of Greggs' – which was a Viz-style story, thinking of those pages in Viz every so often that are called things like ‘The Story of Honey’ or ‘How We Get Milk’)," explains Rob of the anthology's origins.

It was our local talent who persuaded Rob to turn the idea into a comic - and tucked into drawing for it with gusto. "Dave Hughes was very keen and started drawing pages for it," Rob reveals, "so I thought I’d better actually make it."

Dave has previously created comics inspired by Morecambe and the North, which can be bought at First Age in the Assembly Rooms on King Street, while, in addition to his art, Ant Mercer ran a comics convention in Williamson Park back in 2006. The pair are just two of several established creators who live locally, including Marvel Comics writer Andy Diggle, ROK Comics editor John Freeman, artist Paul Harrison-Davies and others. In fact, the number of comics creatives in our area may well lead to some comics events next year.

Rob admits it's pasties are a pretty off-the-wall theme for a comic, "but everyone likes them. I was happily surprised at how all the artists have gone for very different takes on the vague theme.

Rob tells us he hopes his fans and newcomers to his work and the other creators will enjoy the title, which he's been working on since February. "It's very funny," he enthuses, "and has lots of very diverse stories."

Despite creating a Pasty Anthology, Rob admits he's never made one of his own. "Cheese and onion is my favourite, or Greggs Vegetable pasty," he admits, "but Dave Hughes did masses of research for his two stories (which are very funny). He's like a method actor in his diligent research!"

• Buy The Pasty Anthology via

• Sample Pages and more info on Rob's blog:

Heysham High Wakes up and Shakes Up!

event_wakeup-and-shakeup.jpgHeysham High School students gave Diversity a run for their money as they attempted to set a Guinness Book World Record for the most pupils to take part in a synchronised activity.

Over 80,000 students across Lancashire took part in dancing to Lady Ga Ga and The Saturdays to celebrate National Sports Week in association with the Youth Sports Trust and Rock FM.

Schools in Lancashire were sent videos to help them all train for the same dance routine and the dances at Heysham were lead by two fitness instructors from VVV and Heysham High School Sports College Director of Sport, Mrs. Noops Kirby.

"The students really enjoyed themselves and the movement from them was great," commented Gareth Finney, Heysham High's Partnership and Community Development Manager

"At the last count, 80,000 students had taken part and we are waiting for confirmation we have achieved world record status."

University opens up facilities for Local Artists


The University of Cumbria is offering the opportunity for four local artists to utilise its arts facilities in Lancaster and Carlisle for free, thanks to the Artists Access to Art Colleges (AA2A) project.

Local artists can apply to use the University's facilities in woodwork, jewellery, textiles, printmaking and ceramics at the Brampton Road campus and sculpture (bronze and aluminium casting using sand, lost wax processes, MIG and TIG welding and plasma cutting facilities) both in Carlisle and printmaking at the Lancaster campus.

The scheme entitles each artist/maker to 100 hours of access to workshops and supporting areas, from 19 October 2009 to 26 March 2010.This allows students to work alongside artists and gain a valuable insight into the art world outside university.

AA2A is a national set of schemes which give artists the chance to undertake a project or research using workshop and supporting facilities in fine art and design departments of higher and further education institutions. It enables artists to use equipment that might not otherwise to available to them and benefits the institution by bringing in ideas and techniques which may not otherwise enter the education environment.

"The AA2A scheme enabled me to make use of splendid facilities on campus, especially the large plaster room," enthuses artist Hilary Harrison from Burgh by Sands, Carlisle, who recently took part in the scheme at the Brampton Road campus. "I really enjoyed my time on the scheme. It was good to be able to develop ideas and experiment without feeling under any pressure.

"The scheme provides valuable experience of being amongst other makers and gave me the chance to see others at work, to exchange ideas and be of mutual help. Staff and students alike were very friendly and supportive. I would thoroughly recommend it to others."

The University of Cumbria is one of only 37 colleges and universities across England that has been successful in its application to host an Artists Access scheme within its Faculty of the Arts. It will be the eighth year that the Brampton Road Campus has been involved in AA2A.

• To get an application pack contact Olivia Toppin the University of Cumbria coordinator on 01228 888740 or e-mail her on

• For more information about AA2A, visit their website at

Cockling tragedy victims to be remembered at RHS Flower Show

The tragic deaths of 23 Chinese cockle pickers in Morecambe Bay are to be remembered in Lancaster City Council’s display at this year’s RHS Flower Show.

The council has teamed up with acclaimed local artist Chas Jacobs to design the display, which will go on show at Tatton Park in the National Flower Bed Competition.

It depicts the terrible aftermath of events in February 2004 following a desperate effort to try and rescue Chinese cockle pickers who had become trapped by the tide while working late at night.

A cockle picker’s cart and rake lie stranded on a sandbank in the middle of Morecambe Bay surrounded by the sea – the same scene which confronted the rescue workers the following morning.

Coun Jon Barry, Cabinet member with responsibility for City Council (Direct) Services, said: “Morecambe Bay is one of our district’s greatest assets and an extremely important site for wildlife.

“But at the same time its tides and sands are notoriously treacherous and have claimed many lives over the years. This year’s Tatton display reflects the beauty of the bay at the same as recognising its deadly nature.”

Over the years the council has been successful at the Tatton show, which this year runs from July 22 to 26.

Two years ago the gardening team picked up a gold medal and they have also won a number of silver gilt and bronze medals.

The display is put together by the council’s team of green-fingered gardeners and gives the council the opportunity to promote the district to thousands of people.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Ice Age 3 Sneek Screening Tonight?

Ice Age 3Lancaster's Vue Cinema may be putting on an chilled-out treat perfect to take your mind off the hot weather for animation fans tonight -- because it looks like Ice Age 3 is this week's "Mystery Movie".

UK cinema chain Vue Entertainment is daring film-lovers to delve into the unknown and escape the everyday with a Mystery Movie, screened at selected Vue cinemas nationwide tonight, Tuesday 30th June 2009 at 6.30pm.

The film buffs at Vue Entertainment have used their expert, insider knowledge to hand-pick a fantastic new movie, with Mystery Movies cinema-goers will be given an exclusive opportunity to see what is sure to be one of this summer's biggest family hits before its official release.

Previous Mystery Movies screenings have included the blockbuster Star Trek and the critically acclaimed Looking for Eric and this week's certainly looks to be a similar top release, as Vue say those with a penchant for spontaneity, come prepared for a "mammoth" family blockbuster.

And if that wasn't clue enough, given that Ice Age 3 once again features certain trunked and hirsute mammals, they add the film is "Guaranteed to keep the whole family entertained, this U certificate film is great fun for all ages, and is the perfect way to chill out."

Shhh. We're saying no more, or we'd get into real trouble!

• To purchase Mystery Movies tickets, check out or call 08712 240 240.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Council Approves Science Park Plans


Even as the Council reels from the fallout of a disastrous Inquiry into the proposed development for Lancaster's Canal Corridor, it has just approved plans for a new Science Park, which have already courted controversy and been changed to accommodate concerns from local residents.

Based at Bailrigg next to Lancaster University, the new science park, first mooted back in 2006, has just been granted planning permission by the City Council, which it says will provide homes to technology and knowledge based businesses.

The Council says it has the potential to support over 1,000 jobs, boosting the local economy. The Council also claims the new Park will also boost the Lancaster district’s reputation as one of the country’s leading areas of scientific research.

"The development of a science park at Bailrigg has been a major ambition for a number of years," commented Coun Evelyn Archer, Cabinet member with responsibility for economic development. "Lancaster University is one of our biggest economic assets, with an international reputation for the quality of its research in new technologies.

"The science park will provide a place where businesses can grow alongside this," she argues. "It will create new businesses and new jobs, and provide high level jobs, which means that skilled local people, and the many graduates who pass through our two universities, can continue to stay here and work here."

The project is a collaboration between Lancaster City Council, the North West Development Agency and Lancaster University.

Although many welcome the Park, some local residents objected to the proposed location, describing it as "wholly inappropriate", not least because it will be built on greenbelt land.

"Sites affecting the Green Belt and other rural areas should only be considered as a last resort," argued Tom Roberts in his objection to the plans. "Any such proposals would require exceptional justification on a basis broader than that of individual development plans.

"I find it difficult to reconcile Lancaster City Council's commitment to sustainable development, alongside the proposal in its current location," he continued. Indeed the site scored badly - a mere 40%, ranking 23rd out of 25 possible sites in a study of NW Regional Investment Sites.

"There is very little reason for the site to be located alongside the university, as there is a very good public transport network that links up areas of the district, and telecommunication advances mean that it is not always necessary to be physically located next door," he argued in a detailed objection to the plans. "I would have thought that such a project would have been very exciting precisely because of the re-development opportunities it offers in terms of regenerating any number of Brownfield sites that are currently so ripe for re-development in the Lancaster and Morecambe district. (Luneside East / West take your pick!)."

Back in 2007, objections were also raised that concreting over such a large area of land will greatly increase water run-off, at the risk of flooding the University's rugby and football pitches, and even at some times the A6. University staff newsletter subtext reported that "Others are sceptical about the expressed commitment to the use of 'low carbon / environmentally sound build construction technology and techniques', especially given recent developments on campus, which have been regulation-compliant but not exactly cutting edge. The Design Statement makes no mention of generating or using renewable energy on the site, and does not exactly inspire confidence that the development will showcase cutting-edge eco-design."

The Council points out that the latest proposals are a revised version of plans which were drawn up a few years ago but subsequently withdrawn due to the need for further work to manage the potential impact of the development on the road network, in view of problems which already exist to the south of Galgate.

There is no mention in its press release of changes to counter concerns about run-off or use of alternative energies, but the planning consent does have a number of conditions attached to it to deal with the anticipated extra traffic that the science park will generate.

It is likely to be built in a number of phases over a 15-20 year period, and strict conditions have been imposed to ensure that the traffic impact is minimised before future phases can go ahead, including improvements to the road and traffic signals in Galgate village.

Improvements to public transport and cycling, and the development of a travel plan for businesses occupying the science park to encourage car sharing and alternative forms of transport will also have to be put in place before the full park can be developed.

The next stage of the project is to review the impact of the planning conditions and make a business case for the project that assesses capacity, demand and affordability in the current economic climate. If funding is approved, construction of the first building, which will be a 4,000 square metre Innovation Centre to support growth of new small businesses, is currently expected to start in 2012.

Bradburn back at Williamson Gallery

art_AndrewBradburn_gresgarth_hall.jpgAfter a successful exhibition in 2007, Lancashire artist Andrew Bradburn returns to the Ashton Memorial to hold a further exhibition of new watercolour landscapes in a contemporary style.

Andrew has had a successful career in interior design, a degree in design, has been painting for over 10 years. He is an artist who is passionate about mood and landscape, who paints intuitively and expressively.

His paintings are full of detail which evoke nature, freedom and calm, which will delight those who like sensitivity in artwork. Current work emphasises freedom and looseness in style and is inspired by a direct response to the seasons and their effect on the landscape.

The exhibition will be held in the Williamson Gallery, top floor of the Ashton Memorial, Williamson Park, from 13th July to 16th August between 10.00am and 4.30pm.

• For further information about this and the many other attractions in the park visit:

Exhibition inspired by Berlin Wall anniversary opens

A new exhibition inspired by the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall opens this week (Friday 3rd July) at the University of Cumbria's Lancaster campus, featuring the work of university staff and students alongside professional artists.

The 'Wallworks' exhibition will feature a diverse range of artwork, including paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations, poetry and photographs, all created in response to the Berlin Wall and what it symbolises.

A section of the Berlin Wall has been on display outside the Alexandra Gallery on the Lancaster campus since February and this exhibition will also mark its return to its home at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. 'Wallworks' also marks the end of a festival of events that have taken place in the Alexandra Gallery while the Berlin Wall has been in place. This has included two successful exhibitions (one of which has now moved to a Berlin gallery), seminars, schools and college workshops.

The free exhibition will run until Wednesday 15 July and is open every weekday from 9am until 5pm.

• For more information about studying art at the University of Cumbria, visit the website at

Vintage car rally to visit Williamson Park

Lancaster's Williamson Park will be welcoming members of the Roses Run Vintage Car Rally on Sunday 5th July.

In this, their 10th anniversary year, the fine collection of vintage cars will arrive at the gates of Williamson Park at approximately 11.00am

Cars expected include such classics as the MG Midget and a 1973 Lotus Elan and will be on show at the foot of the Memorial for the rest of the day.

• For more information or details please contact Williamson Park on 01524 33318.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Spotlight Writers Surgeries Announced

Lancaster's Spotlight writers organisation, best known for its regular Spotlight Club events, which recently moved to the Storey, has announced a number of Work In Progress Writing Surgeries, offering a unique opportunity to get confidential feedback on your work.

Whether you are just starting out or have been writing for some time, write for performance or the page, the 20 minute One-To-One Surgery with Spotlight Organisers Ron Baker and Sarah Fiske will offer feedback on your work.

The Arts Council-funded surgeries will be held at The Gregson Centre on: Sunday 12th July (1 - 3.00pm), Tuesday 21st July (12 noon - 2.00pm) and Sunday 22nd November (7 - 9.00pm).

Places, which cost £5, are limited and must be booked in advance. Before the surgery, participants will be asked to submit by e-mail or word processed on A4 1,000 words of prose or three poems up to approximately 40 lines in length.

• To sign up for a 20-minute writing surgery
e-mail: or phone: 01524 381642