I'm writing this early—Thursday morning rather than Thursday evening—because we're heading out tonight to see Stewart Lee on stage at Colchester's Mercury Theatre. I'm a long-time fan of both Lee and of his former partner Richard Herring (see Comic Cuts passim) who we will be seeing later this month. At last! My chance to get copies of the Fist of Fun DVDs signed! I only had the first series when Herring was on his We're All Going To Die tour, so I've just the one lonely signature. Fingers crossed, I may now get the set. You'll just have to wait until next week to find out what happened.
The bulk of the book is made up of illustrations from the pages of Look and Learn, Bible Story, Ranger, Once Upon a Time, Speed & Power and World of Wonder. Some are taken from original artwork wherever possible; most I've rescanned and re-cleaned—which is why the book has taken so long to put together! Personally I think the end results will justify the time put in.
As well as writing the next bit of the introduction, I've also done a few more layouts; I'm now 14 pages in and happy with the way those pages look. Things will speed up once I've got beyond the introductory material. If I get a good tail wind, the book should be out in about a month. As long as I don't take too many evenings off.
In the end we got a £25½ million white elephant and the area set aside for the bus station was used for council offices; the bus station... well, it isn't a bus station. It's a road with some bus stops, very little shelter and no toilets.
But to turn back to the "visual arts centre", or "firstsite" as it is now known—little 'f' despite it being a name. I wonder how much that bit of useless branding cost. Two words slammed together, "first" and "site", neither of which contain any information about the location or function of the building. Compare: "Colchester Zoo"... "firstsite".
It was a year late opening and, frankly, it wasn't worth the effort or the extra £9 million it cost. The content has been wholly uninspiring and it attracts very few visitors. The exhibits are rubbish, film showings go wrong (a recent Shakespeare play had to be cancelled because of technical problems) and the schedules are a mess. I particularly like the note on the "What's On" page of their website which informs readers that "Talks, debates and symposia at firstsite offer a great opportunity to engage with contemporary art in new ways" and also that "There are no further talks and debates for the current season"... that season extending from 5 December 2014 to 31 December 2017!
This sudden rant was inspired by a report in the local paper the other day that even the guy in charge of the building thinks they've got it all wrong. I'll post the article below from which you'll see that the new guy who has had two years to fix things is still blaming the previous director for his eighteen month tenure during which "the gallery ... lost its way".
How screwed were things in the first eighteen months that they couldn't be fixed in two years? Wow! Hope that first guy never gets to work here again and the new guy really needs to pull his socks up.
The other identifiable artist is Wilding, who drew the final cover below, about whom I'll be writing more over the weekend.