Rodmell 5.12.12



 When Winter dons its black cap

and passes judgement on Autumn

and the landscape loses its colour certificate

I can trace the Summer synapses in the leaves

shorting in miniature Nagasakis

as the ground melts into uncertainty beneath my feet.

The flower negatives freeze into graven images

that no-one can hear but all can feel

This is the bitter seasoning spooned by designer ladle

We count the minutes of daylight like poll station misers

And watch birds shiver in mid-flight

Sometimes the time of year becomes a time of life

As we read the meteorology

And protest as the sundial ratchets out our fate

We sniff the spirits

hovering above the heather blankets on Rodmell Down

As they absorb us into their private mythology

So many beaten paths trodden by beaten men

Splinters of nearly victories stream by the hardworn path

December pedestrians discover a spring in the step

to ordnance our way into the future

Provisioned against the cold in the souls

of the waking, sentient dead

enjoying the golden lottery ticket of their birth

in their far away Westminster palaces

where there is no Winter

written out of some long forgotten manifesto

when principle became pragmatism

and faith could be fathomed.

And now we tremble in the face of Winter

But in that shivering lies the first spasm of chlorophyll

biology and squalling protest

Reaching selfishly for a measure of selflessness

Springing from the ground in a kind of baptism

Because even in this special death,

there is the first baby wriggle of life.

Roy Stannard 5th December 2012

Listen to it live here:

..and again a year later on December 12th 2013

Southend Pier – still standing, but not standing still.

When I was a boy I spent hours upon hours on Southend Pier, walking its length, feeling its girth, teasing its claim to be the longest in the world at 1.25 miles.  Its slot machine alleys whispered to me alluringly. Cheap, trashy items like tin rings and shoddy pen knives (that I would have left on the ground if had I found them) became irresistible treasure if found on a moving tray of pennies or laying prostrate below a mechanical crane. I would lose myself for hours in these glittering, garishly painted palaces, emerging into the light and air feeling poorer and coppers lighter to lean against the walkway rails.

Southend Pier. The daddy of all piers has been rebuilt more times than the six million dollar man, made up and repainted more times than a Soho harlot and yet it still receives its lovers, supplicants and one-day tripper stands.

In 1959, three years after I was born, a fire destroyed the Pier Pavilion at the shore-end, replaced by a ten-pin bowling alley. Eighteen years later another fire swallowed up the 1908 Pier Head which remained derelict until a £1.3m grant from the Historic Buildings Committee in 1986 made good and also financed new rolling stock so that the tiny railway recommenced  the traditional ride back for the outward bound walkers. Almost immediately afterwards the MV Kingsabbey sliced through the pier between the old and new pier heads leaving an ugly, yawning 70 foot hole. It was patched up reluctantly, like an old lady at a modern dentist in 1989. Six years later the bowling alley was destroyed by fire, repaired in 1998, followed by a brand new Pier entrance in 2003 – only to play with fire again in 2005 which swallowed and spat out the station, cafe, restaurant, toilets and the pavilion. In 2007 Southend Pier was awarded Pier of the Year and two years later its brand new station platform and office was officially opened by Southend’s Mayor.

The result of all this wear, tear and repair is that the end of the pier is now pristine, clean and virtually clear of buildings. The RNLI building stands alone, proud of its heroic status, poised for action, imperiously dismissive of the simple tourists that climb its stairs for a prurient look.

No end of pier theatre, no varieties, not even a stick of rock in sight. Length isn’t everything. As a young man, I felt that there must be a better pier. The kiss me quick hats would always be faster and racier elsewhere. In 1977 I left Southend in search of  true seaside seediness in Brighton.

Before that, in the faraway fifties and sixties, a boy played on the longest pier in the world, a pier with no beginning or end, a pier that stretched as far as the imagination would stretch. Beyond that, there was always Kent.

Like the pier, I have had fires, objects that sailed straight through me, numerous repairs, modifications and people walking all over me.

We are both still standing.

Getting the Business Edge

Sussex Enterprise Business Edge Magazine page 39 Aug/Sept edition

When I arrived at ad agency Zerofiftyone on the 4th January I embarked upon an audit of the affiliations, memberships, connections and outbound communications used by the agency. Many of the memberships including Sussex Enterprise, Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce, CADIA (Crawley & District Industry Association) and Wired Sussex were in the name of a short-lived digital media offshoot called Blue Herring.

As this deflected from the primary brand, it was decided to drop this – but all the links were in this name. As the branding had reverted to ad agency Zerofiftyone Digital I used this as an opportunity to telephone all the membership managers of the organisations we belong to and bring them up to speed.

I have also created a Facebook Places presence for the company and logged it as a location on Foursquare.

If you drive past our offices in Peacehaven with your Smartphone applications switched on you will detect an invitation to pop in a have a complimentary cup of coffee over a chat about your marketing strategy.

Since January I have also joined the Worthing Theatres Trust as a Trustee/Board Director and because I maintain the website, the Twitter account and the Facebook page there has been a lot of activity on the internet over the last few months.

After ringing Business Edge magazine (the members magazine for Sussex Enterprise – circulation 12,000 businesses) to ask why the magazine was printed in Gateshead (a perfectly reasonable question to a title set up to nurture and defend Sussex business), the magazine offered to put me into its Movers and Shakers page. Despite arriving in January and the piece appearing on page 39 of the August/September edition, it was good to see it finally appear.

I insisted on a credit and website link for Maria Scard, a fine photographer who kindly took the photograph free of charge at a recent event. She will be tagged in this piece as well. The beauty of social media is that it is easy to promote like-minded businesses without resorting to the traditional avenues such as sponsorship or co-promotion.

Writing a blog post about it and connecting it to all my sites is another easy way to communicate outwards.

You reading this now is testament to its efficacy.

A Southend boy visits the Turner Contemporary Gallery at Margate

Two Colussii rising from the jellied eels – The Turner Contemporary


Nearly half a century ago as a little boy I would walk to the end of the longest pier in the world at Southend and board the Daffodil Steamer and travel across the Estuary to Margate. The beaches were wider, deeper and sandier. The seaside entertainment, louder, more garish and seemingly endless. The rough and ready locals were brash, red faced and cheery. When Tracey Emin appeared on the scene as part of the new British Art Movement in the 80s she seemed to emblemise my memories of Margate. Open all hours, brutally honest, yet friendly for all that.

Half a lifetime later, the seaside day-trippers have largely disappeared. The Cockney bolt-hole of Margate has been busy re-inventing itself. Yet, even in our wildest dreams we could not have expected nearly £20 million of grant money to have been invested in the best of modern art amidst the whelks, mussels and ice cream of Margate.

The Turner Contemporary, opened on the 16th April this year with the declared intention of re-awakening the faded Victorian splendour of Margate. The Gallery, designed by award-winning British architect David Chipperfield, is spacious with exhibition rooms lit by soft northern light and by super porthole style windows overlooking magnicent Estuary views that drew JMW Turner back to the town over and over again.

Turner first came to Margate in 1786 as a child and returned there to paint often, motivated by what he described as the best light in Europe. Later in his life, he stayed in a slightly seedy guest house run by Sophie Booth, a widow 25 years his junior, who, according to local gossip was his lover.  The Turner Contemporary occupies the very spot on Margate beach where Mrs Booth’s guesthouse stood and where Turner painted his epic sea and skyscapes of Thanet.

One piece of  Turner’s work will always be on display, but the mainstay of the Gallery is contemporary work.   For its opening show, “Revealed: Turner Contemporary Opens”, ‘The Eruption of the Souffrier Mountains on the Island of St. Vincent’, on loan from Liverpool University, is on display along with a poem that Turner wrote about the work. 

The opening exhibition at the new contemporary art gallery is limited to a few works by a handful of artists, three of whom were specially commissioned for the opening. The first show was designed to show off the light and space of the Turner Contemporary.

Afterwards, my son Callum and I walked the same walk that Turner took all those years ago, across the seemingly endless sand into the afternoon sun. Margate is cultivating bohemian back streets and almost Provencale-like squares that sit hazily in the sun, populated by locals and tourists mingling in street bars and cafes, cars parked erratically in off-street spaces, for all the world like Aix-en-Provence.

We sat idlyon the seafront overlooking the two hanging colussii of the twin Turner buildings, allowing the light, the space and the sun to bathe us gently as we felt ourselves dissolve and re-emerge blinking into a new era of Margate. We took pictures of the sand, the light and the sun. Turner would have been proud of us.

As in Photography, so in Life.

Eva Kalpadaki - Empty Space (untitled - and unintentional in its design)

I had the pleasure recently of meeting up with Eva Kalpadaki PhD who is a very talented photographer of the abstract and minimal, and who is based in the very corporeal and maximal Brighton. 

The context in which we met was unusual in that it was a forum of Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce which brings together creative businesses and artists at The Basement in Brighton. The next event is linked here:

Thrown together in a group discussion, it was obvious that both of us had a shared interest in how conventional networking (where two people reprise their business cards in each other’s faces as quickly and brutally as possible) could be subverted into something more interesting. How simply asking open-ended questions of each other would lead to a far greater understanding of how each other operates, what our aims and ambitions might be – and how we might be able to support one another in achieving them.

Eva’s photography which she kindly sent me links to, has an interesting lesson to teach us, unconsciously and without a manifesto.

I started the conversation on email.

RS: I was encouraged to see an artist who is capable of asking deeper questions through the simplicity of abstract photography. The minimal approach you use on the latter material, where the lens unflinchingly captures the interface between reality and dreams – and the jolt that boundary can deliver is superb. However, just as exciting is your earlier work using the ultra-plasticity that the camera can obtain when exposing its eye to flowers and other natural objects shows a different perspective – but achieved with the same sophisticated eye. The area that I am particularly interested in and impressed by is the unresolved questions that your art raises which subvert the usual expectations of the medium.

EK: As much as I like ‘the usual expectations of the medium’ and I started photography by exploring those expectations I ended up in what you saw; to question the nature of photography and to cause a tension in what you are looking at. I don’t know what to expect as I follow my inspiration and the flow of things but I am really looking forward to the next step.

RS: The most interesting ideas are the ones that no-one else is thinking yet. The trick is to see things in a different light, and then turn that light on for others.  Then get people of like mind to coalesce around you. 

The reason I like Eva’s work is because, as with minimalist art, it seeks to move away from self-expression and in so doing drops the usual conventions which ask for storyline, insight, commentary, allusion, metaphor and the artist either physically or symbolically inside the work.

The technique is the palette. The palette informs the technique. It speaks of space. The image on the canvas is the art in itself. It doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. If you can read messages, meanings and morality into the creation, then that is your mind’s neurological pathways conspiring together to write a storyboard – and therefore speaks more about your history and hinterland than the artist’s.

Artists like Eva are seeking to engender reaction, response and allegiance in the viewer through the unadorned action of the photograph rather than in the subliminal meaning or consciousness of the artist. If it is beautiful it is because it is beautiful. We can admire the work because of its purity and aesthetical freedom. It is a physical object like a glorious sunrise or a new born baby. It is enough in itself to be admired. It does not need a context, a movement or endorsement by its peers.

Ad Reinhardt said about minimalist art, “The more stuff in it, the busier the work of art, the worse it is. More is less. Less is more. The eye is a menace to clear sight. The laying bare of oneself is obscene. Art begins with the getting rid of nature.”

How does this apply to life and how we apply ourselves to it?

Well, every time we go into a situation with a complex set of expectations, a series of demands before the negotiation has even begun, an anticipated lexicon of what the other person is going to say, we spoil the essential beauty of the moment of meeting.

Instead, what would it be like to simply look forward to the moment. To anticipate the specialness of interaction with another unique human being. To enjoy the visual kick, the vocal surge, the intellectual power jump?

Eva’s art does not have an agenda attached. Her simple, tranquil, ‘empty’ expressions of life from a different perspective are teaching one lesson only. Or is that an anti-lesson?

Here is the lesson: Do not expect, simply enjoy.


Links to Eva Kalpadaki’ s work.

A course she is leading at Phoenix Brighton (starts 27.4.11) and a link to an exhibition Eva curated with some of her  students from Phoenix during the Brighton Photo Fringe 2010:

Finally, one of my son Callum’s pictures, and a link to his Flickr site:

Don't look for meaning, just savour the image. 'New Light' by Callum Stannard