Chris Wadsworth
Percy Kelly - Looking East to the Ennerdale Fells
Writer and Art Consultant

12th August 2013


The rural life is not what it was. Despite fresh air, magnificent vistas and open spaces there has always been an underlying longing to be closer to the capital when reading critical reviews of great shows, events, concerts.  We do have the inestimable Theatre by the Lake and visiting orchestras but we still have to travel to see the unmissables.  A trip to London is expensive, time consuming and needs careful planning but in the last month we’ve been to the The Globe and The National as well as seeing  Kenneth Branagh in Macbeth live from a disused church in Manchester and visited  Glyndbourne – notoriously awkward to get to from here.  And we got best seats in the house for £10. Here's how!

 The Alhambra is a remarkable place - no, I don't mean the one in Spain - but the cinema in Keswick where we saw all the above performances live.  It's as comfy and cosy as our sitting room at home. This gem of a building is approaching its centenary but the number of times it has faced closure during the last 100 years are myriad - the last was 2 years ago when the lease was up for renewal and the incumbent holder decided not to carry on. In the nick of time, just like a classic cowboy film, up rode Tom Rennie manager for the last 20 years all guns blazing and bravely took over the lease with the supporting cast of his family. He has installed a state of the art digital system and is bringing the world to our doorstep. There’s  a bowl of chocolates on the ticket desk and fresh filter coffee in proper cups you can take in with you at 50p a go  And we get most of the new film-releases - all at a fraction of city prices which makes rural living perfect.

I reckon we have it all except - before I get too self-satisfied -  the exhibitions. Our 2 Cumbrian public galleries serve us well but If only we could be digitally transported to the Lowry at the Tate, Peter Doig in Edinburgh, Grayson Perry in Sunderland. There is so much going on and so little time to get there. There will be virtual transporters in the future but I want one now!

The good fairy ofthe arts must have heard my wish.  Last Thursday saw the launch of Art Everywhere. A catholic selection of the nation’s favourite paintings have been turned into giant posters and scattered around the country on 22000 sites around Britain; Bacon hanging on bill boards, Bellany loitering at bus stops, Lowry hanging about on street corners. It's a start. It must be the largest art exhibition ever mounted. I see from the map on  that there are  a few works scattered around the edge of Cumbria - in West Cumbria, the  South Lakes and the Barrow peninsula-  but we are not told what and exactly where. They are meant to catch us by surprise.  I haven’t spotted one as yet but it is early days. I lead a sheltered life these days holed up in this pink egg writing. They are thinly spread round here so please look out for them and let me know the location if you see one.  If you download blippar (the free APP on the above web site) on your i-phone and point it at one of the posters when you find it, it will tell you all about it. Is that magic? I’m longing to try it and be surprised.

They are only up for a limited period so get moving and keep your eyes skinned before old Bill Posters gets there with his bucket of paste and obliterates them with a more mundane image.  Shots from other parts of the country are welcomed as well so we can compare.

* Apologies for my silence this last month. I have a new exciting project with a serious deadline which has kept me very focussed and unusually quiet.  More about this in the next newsletter.

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