It's a Nucleus explosion of local talent

by Collage Kent: discovering art in our county, with Alex Welch Wednesday, February 5 2014

Well , Collage Kent is back after a January rest and we’d like to draw your attention to two exhibitions at the Nucleus Gallery in Medway. Nucleus is an arts organisation founded by a wonderful man, Hilary Halpern. I used to have studio at Nucleus which was next door to Hilary’s and his daily visits to check on my progress were nerve-wracking (in case he didn’t like my work), sometimes inconvenient (I like to paint just wearing a t-shirt and pants …) but always supportive and welcome. Sadly, Hilary passed away last year but the Halpern Foundation keeps Nucleus (and a number of other organisations) running.

There are Nucleus shop/galleries in Rochester and Maidstone but it’s the studio centre in Chatham that has an excellent exhibition space. And the shows put on at Nucleus are nothing if not eclectic. Currently running is ‘Bling Bling’, a showcase for local jewellers. This ends on Thursday 6th and taking over is ‘Pride Against Prejudice’ a show by the LGBT community action group. Then, from the 28th February, the gallery features work by various artists inspired by the 1946 book “Chatham and the British Empire”. The current season ends with “Spring 2014 Art Exhibition” by the Rochester and West Kent Art Society.

When I think of Nucleus I’m always reminded of that old ad for the V&A “An ace café with quite a nice museum attached”. If you don’t go to Nucleus for the art; go for the cakes! The café is always welcoming and fun.

Over in Gravesend, things are afoot with exciting developments. Wendy Cottam, whose work we featured last year, has been developing the Gravesend Art Consortium. This will take up residency in the Gravesend market for three months from March 2014 and will definitely shake things up! Providing a workspace and an exhibition space for local artists, Wendy is hoping to bring art to the public rather than expect them to cross the sometimes intimidating threshold into a gallery.

Wendy says, “This all began when I was walking around the market, visualising it full of creative hubbub. I was imagining a group of creatively minded people working in the space, collaborating with each other and doing a weekly workshop with members of the public. I have a list of 40 artists who are on board. Painters, printers, a fashion designer, poets, sculptors, performers, photographers, each time a new name comes on board I take a look at what they do and it excites me to think of what can be created by such a diverse group of thinkers and doers. I am watching the list grow and grow but I want more, I know there are more of you out there.”

So, don’t wait, join in!

Nucleus follow this link for further information


Categories: Art, Art festivals, Art exhibitions | Chatham | Gravesend

Inbetweeners reunite for film screening in Gravesend

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Monday, January 28 2013

The cast of the Inbetweeners gave an ironic thumbs up when they were asked what they thought of Gravesend, as they attended a screening of the movie at the town’s Woodville theatre.

“I love Griggs bakery, which is surely just a copy of Greggs” joked a bearded Simon Bird, known to fans as Will McKenzie, at the event promoting the new cinema at the venue.

A near sell-out crowd sat for an hour as actors Simon, Joe Thomas, James Buckley, Blake Harrison and co-creator and writer Damon Beesley answered audience questions on Friday.

They posed for photos and signed various items of memorabilia from the show, which were auctioned to raise money for new seats at the theatre.

A signed poster of the Inbetweeners Movie – the highest grossing British comedy film – was bought for £200, while t-shirts and a jumper worn in the film and series sold for more than £100.

The four stars agreed to attend the screening as a favour to writer Damon, who grew up in New Barn and went to Longfield Upper School.

The audience laughed as Damon confirmed, unfazed, that the Woodville itself was the real-life setting for one particularly hands-on scene in the series, involving character Simon and a young girl at a school disco.

Damon himself agreed to attend thanks to a childhood friend who works at Gravesham Borough Council, who asked him to come along.

The Q&A got off to a spluttering start, as a couple of the mics did not work and the panel were flummuxed with some bizarre questions.

Damon, 41, confirmed there would be no more series but hinted a few ideas were being floated around between himself and co-writer Iain Morris about making a second film.

Just as the cast warmed up, the Q&A came to a close, almost too soon, with the film screened shortly after to roaring laughter from fans.

Categories: Celebrities | Entertainment | Film | Gravesend | Gravesham | Showbiz | TV

Put a sock on it

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Wednesday, January 23 2013

The greatest pleasure of interviewing Inbetweeners co-creator and writer Damon Beesley was finding out that the stuff viewers didn’t see on camera was just as funny as what made it onto TV in the Bafta-winning show.

Ahead of talking to fans at a Q&A and screening of the Inbetweeners Movie, Damon revealed his sense of humour was still equally as juvenile as that of Will, Simon, Jay and Neil.

As well as his own adolescent experiences, the 41-year-old, who grew up in New Barn, near Gravesend, revealed his cast were such good sports that he could use their moments of embarrassment for comic scenes.

“Over the course of three series we have managed to get all four of them partially naked,” he said with glee, pictured below, right, with co-creator and writer Iain Morris.

“We have seen all their bottoms, which Iain and I are very proud of.

“Joe [Thomas, who plays Simon] gets the brunt because he is most pliable. There are a lot more rude bits just for Simon because Joe is just so up for it.

“When we were filming on the boat for the field trip episode and Joe had to stand naked, there was a quite a lot of concern for him because it was freezing cold in January.

“In the scene, he falls into the water and they have to take all his clothes off because he is going to get hypothermia and at one point he stands up naked, to wave back at the land.

“We asked costume to give him some coverage to go over his front parts, to save his embarrassment, but what wardobe didn’t tell us was that instead of putting a box on, for some reason they put a sock over his bits and it looked mental.

“As James Buckely [Jay] pointed out, they may as well have covered him with a condom because it was so tight. It wasn’t saving anyone from any embarrassment at all.

“We all fell about laughing and because it was so funny, during the edit we wrote in a few lines to the script that Neil [played by Blake Harrison] had put a sock over his parts – why would you do that?

“But it was brilliant and it made a good joke.”

As all four stars arrive with Damon at Gravesend’s Woodville Halls for the Q&A and screening – which is drumming up support for the new cinema which launched at the theatre this month – many will wonder what other behind-the-scenes gems will be unveiled.

The Inbetweeners Movie is shown on Friday, January 25, at Gravesend’s Woodville Halls with a pre-screening Q&A with writer Damon Beesley and the four stars. 

Categories: Celebrities | Entertainment | Film | Gravesend | Showbiz | TV

Want to know about legacy? Check out Kent's new youth theatre project.

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Thursday, August 9 2012

In my younger years, I was something of a thespian.

Every Saturday afternoon was spent at Gravesend’s Matinee Stage School, as I harboured dreams of being the next Jim Carrey. He was cool back in the 1990s.

Most of this was rehearsal but one year, when I was about 14, the school announced it was putting on a major production. New high-intensity Tuesday night drama classes were run.

Keen as I was, I went every week. It was announced the production would be Wind in the Willows and it would be staged at the Woodville Halls. To misquote the great Chris Kamara, I was fighting like a beaver to get a good part.

I got it. I was to be Badger and all seemed wonderful. I learned my lines and looked forward to my theatrical debut.

Then disaster struck when the school announced they were cancelling the show with a little over two months to go.

They said not enough people were putting the effort in. Apparently not enough of the leading cast members had learned their lines (I had learned them all, barring my final scene.)

I was devastated. Months of work hard had gone to waste. In the end, we performed one scene from the play as part of a wider Matinee Stage School gala at the Woodville Halls, but it was scant consolation. My big theatrical debut had been taken away from me and my faith in the school had been dashed to pieces.

I left shortly afterwards, disillusioned with it all. I never went back to acting, despite always being something of a performer at heart. The school eventually closed, a couple of years later, presumably damaged by having to cancel such a major show. Only in the last few months was the weather-beaten sign removed from the terraced house which was home to the school on Parrock Street.

It was this memory which made me hope, wholeheartedly, that as many young actors as possible take up their chance to be a part of the National Theatre’s youth project at Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre next year.

It was announced this week the theatre has been chosen to work with up to 20 youth theatres to bring together a festival of young drama in May, 2013.

Youth theatres will be offered up to 10 plays to produce, all commissioned by the National Theatre. All the plays are by today’s top writers, including Lenny Henry, Howard Brenton and Jim Cartwright.

Called NT Connections 2013, a production of each play will then be chosen to be performed at the National Theatre, London, in June.

With the focus so much on sporting legacy right now with the Olympics, this is a chance for Kent’s young people to be a part of a different future generation to be part of the nation’s acting legacy. It is a chance to show off some real talent, at a venue which has become such a symbol of Kent’s theatrical capability.

The production I had hoped to be in was a private venture by a small theatre group which, sadly, went horribly wrong. This is a chance to be a part of something much bigger – and could lead on to something huge for some of Kent’s young acting prodigies.

  • NT Connections 2013 will take place at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, from Tuesday, May 7 to Thursday, May 9, 2013. For details on how to get involved, call 01227 787787. 

Categories: Celebrities | Entertainment | Gravesend | Olympics | Showbiz

When the Olympic dart strikes through the heart

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Thursday, July 26 2012

I thought I’d been there, done it, and bought the t-shirt.

My Olympic Torch Relay party at my flat on Friday went without a hitch as the flame which began burning on Mount Olympus passed through Gravesend on its way to the London 2012 Games.

A dozen or so cups of tea were made for family and friends, who piled in to my flat at the normally highly unsociable hour of 9am, ready to claim our spot on Saddington Street in plenty of time, to see the procession pass in and out of the Gurdwara.

We got two bites of the cherry and barely had to walk any distance at all to see such a momentous occasion in British sporting history.

Job done I thought. I’d taken a couple of pictures, waved and cheered like I was at a football match (everyone was doing it so I felt ok) and even seen the torch bearer trip on a sleeping policeman – although thankfully he had kept his balance.

Yet none of that compared to the excitement when Julia Chilcott from Maidstone came into the office for an interview with my colleagues at kmfm about her torch bearing experience.

Julia carried the flame into Leeds Castle and lit the cauldron at the end of Thursday’s run from Deal to the county town.

She walked in almost hugging the golden beacon and its appearance quickly gained more attention than when a newborn baby is brought into the office.

I’d tried to play it cool and watch from afar as colleagues gathered around the torch but before I knew it, I was up there like a wide-eyed schoolboy asking for my picture to be taken with the little piece of history.

As with every torchbearer I’ve met or read about, Julia was delighted to tell everyone her story and more than willing for everyone to get their moment with her treasured possession.

More than seeing the flame, more than cheering and even more than my faultless Olympic Torch Relay party (honest!), this was the moment when the cupid of the Olympic Games drew his arrow and fired it straight through my heart.

There’s a magic to how the torch relay brought everyone in the county together and how it has demonstrated so simply the power of sport.

Boy I cannot wait for the Games now.

  • For daily updates on what is going on at the Olympic Park, follow our man Alex Hoad’s blog. He will be following Kent athletes’ performances throughout the Games. You can follow him on Twitter @KentOnline2012.


The Opening Ceremony on Friday, July 27 will be too big to watch in your normal, comfy armchair in your uninspiring living room (oh, that’s just me then.)

A large open-air screen will be at Rochester Castle Gardens showing the event live from the Olympic Stadium for free.

A similar big screen will show the ceremony at Gravesend Community Square. Then after watching the spectacular coordinated by film director Danny Boyle – the man behind Slumdog Millionaire – party into the night at a silent disco on the upper Community Square. Tickets are £8 from the Woodville on 01474 337774.

The ceremony will also be shown on the big screen in Dover’s Market Square from 9pm for free, with a Zumbathon getting the atmosphere going from 7pm to 8pm.

Categories: Entertainment | Gravesend | kmfm | Media | Medway | Olympics | Rochester | Sport | TV

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