Snap Up Some Orignal Artwork and Help Arts Together

Small Wonders is up and running again this year, an online art auction raising funds for Arts Together, a Wiltshire charity bringing creative workshops to those most in need of social interaction, the vulnerable and elderly.

It was one of my most memorable moments working on Devizine, when some years ago I attended a workshop in Melksham with renowned artist Clifton Powell. At a sheltered accommodation centre for the elderly, I witnessed an art group which far exceeded my expectations. It was about so much more than the art, it was an opportunity for social interaction, and when one chap bought out a guitar and sang, I realised it verged on a party! Said exceeded expectation came via talking to the members and realising how much Arts Together meant to them. One couldn’t help but be touched by the experience.

But moreso, the amazing work Arts Together do covers a wider area, with 72 places within six key centres in Devizes, Melksham, Bradford-on-Avon, Trowbridge, Marlborough and Pewsey.

And here’s your chance to help, and bag yourself some original art too, perhaps it’d make a great Christmas present. There’s over 40 pieces to bid on or buy outright, some for as little as thirty quid. Bidding starts on the 18th of November. All the artwork has been donated by renowned local artists, and there’s an impressive variety.

The gallery is open now, click here to have a browse.


Swindon Paint Fest: Live Street Art in October

Though Ken White’s murals have been seen across Swindon for decades, particularly his Golden Lion at the Whale Bridge roundabout on Fleming Way, contemporary street art in Swindon lives in the shadow of neighbouring city Bristol, where the legend of Banksy is crowned. But all that could be set to change, as the Wiltshire town is to get it’s inaugural street art festival, Swindon Paint Fest…..

Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th of October sets the date, Swindon Paint Fest takes place at the Wharf Green in the centre of town, has a GoFundMe, and been organised by an artist collective, Artsite the Post Moden, who provide studio space at the Post Modern in Theatre Square.

It’s free, and promises an array of works and live demonstrations from some six breathtaking artists nationwide and some Wiltshire born, like Inca Mole and Tim Carroll.

With a BA in Fine Art from Leeds University, Tim has completed several local projects, the documentation and renovation of public art for Swindon Borough Council, and an extremely well-received series of paintings, ‘100 Views of Swindon’, now available as a book.

Inca spent time in Greece working as a tattooist where his abilities and potential were encouraged and further inspired in the art world.

Peter Cowdy, will be working with a few youths to create his piece.

British painter and sculptor, Jenna Fox also features. With an MA from the Royal College of Art and currently researching fine art for a PhD, Jenna’s work reflects interactions with people about shared life experiences and journeys. She was selected for Wells Contemporary 2022 and shortlisted for the High prize 2021. Her work has been shown at The Sunbury Gallery, The National Trust, The RSPB, Earley Station, Trowbridge Town Hall, Cromwell Place Gallery and The Crypt Gallery London, and is on permanent display at South Western Rail, The Sculpture Park Farnham, The War Horse memorial at Royal Ascot and Frimley Park Hospital. She has had two residencies at Stand Point Gallery, London, and stills finds time to edit a zine called Haus-a-rest.

Predominantly a spray painter, painting as Lost Dogs for fun and trading as You Pay I Spray, we find another featured artist with a love for sci-fi, comic books and bright colours.

Unless my maths is as wonky as my own typography, I count five featured creatives, who’ve been gradually introduced on the Swindon Paint Fest Facebook page, so we await the final announcement. Until then, stick the date in your diary, favourably in a large colourful graffiti font!


Majesty; Kids Art Exhibit at St Mary’s

Ha! Stand aside established local artists, we’re talking about the artists of the future here! If you’re knocking around Devizes this extended weekend, do pop into St Mary’s, the former church soon-to-be arts centre, where children from Wansdyke, Southbroom and Trinity schools have worked with professional local artist Joanna May to produce a mosaic of their tributes to the Queen for the Palatium Jubilee.

There are some great pictures on display, my attention particularly drawn to one WW2 depiction, an ingenious use of a postal stamp, an astute and beautifully rendered pencil sketch of Windsor Castle, and one which made the Queen look uncannily like Lisa Simpson! There are no names on the pictures but whoever drew these ones would’ve won if I were the judge, although I wasn’t, and it wasn’t a competition anyway. But well done to all the children involved, they look super!

Two local children who took part in the project were at the grand opening of the event with the Mayor and Mayoress and Deputy Mayor and Mayoress of Devizes. From left-to-right: Rosemary Stevens (Deputy Mayoress), Cllr John Stevens (Deputy Mayor), the Rev’d Jonathan Poston (Rector), David Evans (historian), Shirley Urwin (exhibition organiser), Cllr Peter Corbett (Mayor of Devizes), Chris Corbett (Mayoress), Kate Walling (schools project volunteer). 

 Photo credit: Gerry Lynch.  

Joanna, who owns a gallery on Northgate Street, visited all three schools, shown her skills and encouraged the children to create these artworks, but unfortunately caught Covid and couldn’t continue with her emblem-shaped mosaic design. So, working on her idea the members of St Mary’s had to get their own creative juices flowing to create the final piece, which looks fantastic. All best wishes for a speedy recovery, Joanna.

Another good reason is to have a nose around St Mary’s, this glorious 12th century church, where information is displayed about the campaign to make this into a thriving arts centre. It’s been a laborious journey obtaining the permissions, but detailed plans have been drawn up and are on display. The transformation is inclusive of retaining the aesthetics of this beautiful church, but opening out the central area to provide a flexible, multi-use space. There will also be an extension to the rear of the church, with a patio for outdoor activities.

Presently, one can be captivated in anticipation just by imagining the acoustic value inside. Yet the million-dollar question remains, how long will this take? Depends on how we as a town embrace this project and attend its fundraising events. For now, though, St Marys are positive things are moving steadily for this exciting project.

The exhibition is free, running until Saturday (4th June) from 11am-3pm; that’s my contribution to the jubilee done!


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Live Jam Sessions at Swindon Hub Looking for Musicians

Central at The Parade, Swindon Hub, an accessible, friendly community space which opened in October are aiming to host regular Saturday jamming sessions, to promote local artists and give them a platform where they can perform……

The Hub is a comfortable volunteer-led centre trying to bring the community together. They’ve an affordable café where they invite you to relax in their “snug,” read and share books in their bookshop, browse items for sale from local retailers and upcycled furniture by Renew Men’s Shed. The profits of any surplus of stock items donated from shops for sale go to Swindon Night Shelter.

They are currently building a calendar of regular events including a monthly craft market, weekly knitting circle and writer’s club, as well as art workshops and regular music jams on the weekends. They’ve just hosted Swindon ZineFest, which I’m sorry to hear I missed, and from a Women’s History Month exhibition or a Ukraine fundraising jumble sale to Dub in the Hub sessions, the last one by Suitcase Sound System, there’s something for everyone here, especially those who like cake!

Music last Saturday came from The Thieving Magpies, but it was far from the be-all-and-end-all of activities at the Swindon Hub, as well as the aforementioned zine festival, there was a kid’s comic workshop too; it really caters for all.

“The Jam is a Community project as much as a Music one,” organiser Claire told me.

It focuses on confidence building, teamwork, social interaction and collaboration.

The Jam has been running already since September last year and there have been hundreds of people who have taken part.

There are loads of people who take part who have no background in music or performing to an audience and it creates an opportunity for people to get involved with music without the traditional barriers that stop so many people from taking the first step.

That said there are also many talented musicians who take part and it creates a wonderful mix of experience and enthusiasm that allows people of all experience levels to have a meaningful musical and emotional experience.

The key to creating a successful jam is building a relaxed atmosphere with little pressure or expectation that allows people to share without fear of criticism, ridicule or humiliation.

The Hub has a great atmosphere for this kind of activity due to the warm, friendly and supportive nature of the volunteers and visitors to the space.

There are already some fantastic success stories of people who have had their confidence built up by attending the event.

Post lockdown has seen a real boost in community spirit, and such volunteer-based projects like this are a lifeline, in rural areas and debatably more crucial in urban areas too; the larger the population doesn’t necessarily mean the large scope for friendships to occur, in fact it can be harder. So, a massive congratulations to the good folk at Swindon Hub, this looks like an amazing space doing some amazing work, and I might add for a wide-spanning age demographic.

They always need volunteers, if you want to join and help shape the future of communities in Swindon, and any musicians interested in performing for their day sessions should contact them. Facebook Page here.


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Plein Air Painting at Bowood for Arts Together

On Saturday 2nd July 2022, there will be an exclusive chance to paint en plein air at Bowood House & Gardens in aid of Arts Together.

The Bowood Estate has previously never allowed members of the public to paint in the gardens, but we are delighted to announce that this year, Arts Together has been granted exclusive access to host a Landscape Painting Competition.

Set within 100 acres of beautifully landscaped ‘Capability’ Brown Parkland Bowood House and Gardens sits in the heart of Wiltshire between Derry Hill and Chippenham. An Italian-inspired Terrace Garden surrounds the Grade I listed Georgian House and a magnificent lake stretches out into the distance creating many opportunities for the landscape painter in this unique event.

The competition will be judged by Lady Lansdowne, High Sheriff of Wiltshire and Jen Gash, Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2018.

Jen Gash Macedonia – commission for Sky Landscape Artist of the Year 2018.

Jen Gash ‘Macedonia’ – commission for Sky Landscape Artist of the Year 2018.

The winner will receive an award at the event prize giving and a £50 voucher from ARTWAY art supplies.

Tickets are strictly limited and must be booked and paid for in advance through Arts Together.


The deadline for ticket sales is 20th June
and no tickets will be sold after this date.

Admission time 12pm July 2nd
J
udging 4pm (prize giving 4.30pm) 

Cost per entrant £25- this includes admission to Bowood House & Gardens
and entry to the competition.

Friends and family who are accompanying a competitor can purchase entry tickets at the standard admission rates, these must be purchased via Arts Together to allow access to the painting arena and prize giving event. Tea, coffee and cakes will be available exclusively to entrants and their friends and family at the Gardener’s Bothy.  -Cream teas can be pre-booked at cost of £5 per person.

All competitors will need to bring their own art supplies (unless pre-booked via Arts Together) and any easels or foldaway seating they require. These must be transported by the competitors on foot from the car park unless alternative prior arrangements have been made directly with Arts Together.

 Kindly note: this is an open-air event, and the weather is out of our control. Competitors will need to dress appropriately for the unpredictable summer weather. Come prepared for rain or shine!

If competitors would like to have art materials ready on arrival it is possible to purchase one of two ARTWAY kits from Arts Together at the time of ticket purchase. Further details on the artway kits can be found here

For any further information or to purchase tickets, Bowood House kindly request that all enquiries go via Belinda at Arts Together. Thank you for supporting this charity event.

belinda@artstogether.co.uk | Direct line 07779 608196  |   01380 831434

For directions and more information about Bowood visit www.bowood.org


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Devizes Kids to Celebrate Jubilee with Professional Artist

Featured Image: Gerry Lynch.

A historic Devizes church will help local children celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee by giving them the chance to work with a renowned local artist over the jubilee period.

The parish of St John with St Mary in Devizes has partnered with artist Joanna May and historian David Evans to put an exhibition entitled ‘Majesty’ in St Mary’s Church on New Park Street from 2-4 June. Three local primary schools will participate: Wansdyke, Southbroom, and Trinity. 

Shirley Urwin, who is helping organise the exhibition, said: “The children will hear about Devizes’ historic links with the monarchy through story-telling, then Joanna will help them make paintings and drawings of story or person that resonated most with them. Joanna will then create a mosaic of the children’s drawings as part of a huge exhibition board, based upon her painting “Majesty”, which depicts Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation Crown. 

We hope they will benefit from the opportunity to work creatively with a well-known artist and be involved in a unique project marking a memorable event in their lives. 

The pupils will benefit from one-on-one time with a professional artist completely cost free. All three schools are state-funded, and both Trinity CofE and Southbroom receive higher than the national average Pupil Premium funding. This is about bringing art to everyone in our community. 

This is part of a programme of activities that will secure the future of St Mary’s Church as a vibrant and viable multi-use venue for the community of Devizes and further afield. It will raise awareness and engagement in the town of the plans to make St Mary’s available for the community as a vibrant arts space, accessible to all.  “ 

The exhibition will be free, and take place at St Mary’s from 11 am – 3 pm from Thu 2 – Sat 4 June. 

For more information, contact Shirley Urwin on shirley.urwin@yahoo.co.uk or 07849 536 179.  

About Joanna May 

Joanna May is an artist based in Devizes.  She is recognised and collected widely, with a listing in ‘Who’s Who In Art’. Her work has sold at Christies’, including to celebrity buyers; she has paintings at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Raymond Blanc’s famous hotel near Henley. Her beautiful hare paintings for The Hare on the Moon – A Treasure Hunt Book hang in her Joanna May Gallery, lighting up Northgate Street in Devizes. She can be contacted on joanna@joannamay.com and has a website at joannamay.com

About St Mary’s, Devizes 

St Mary’s Church is a Grade 1 listed building and one of the town’s oldest and most historic landmarks with its magnificent 13m high internal arch. It is among the top 2.5% listed buildings in the country and of significant historic importance to the town. Plans are afoot to redevelop the building into a space for the arts, accessible to all, enjoyed for generations to come, thus preserving our heritage. Find out more at www.stmarydevizestrust.org.uk.  


Soraya French’s Art Demonstration in Devizes

The Lawrence Art Society welcomes Soraya French’s return to Devizes, on 7th March at the Devizes Conservative Club. She will be demonstrating a contemporary approach to landscape painting using acrylic inks.

Soraya is an International Artist, and Author based at Project Workshops in the UK, she also demonstrates for GOLDEN Artist Colours, runs private art workshops, and regularly teaches her painting techniques to art groups (including the Lawrence Art Society.)

The Artist Articles – Soraya is a regular contributor to the UK’s leading art magazine “The Artist”. Her articles vary from reviewing products to a four-part series about colour, figure painting, use of acrylics, mixed media, and many more subjects.Collins 30 Minute Acrylics – Many people think they don’t have enough time to paint, but in this attractive guide Soraya French encourages quick and simple learning.

Check out her Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/sorayafrenchpswa

£2 for members. You can attend as a none member as a “try before you buy.”

An Art Shambles!

I tip my beret to The Shambles in Devizes for a wonderfully presented Christmas Art Fair on Saturday evening. Though it promised a glass of mulled wine and minced pie, which I didn’t seem to receive, it offered a variety of local artists exhibiting, and besides, I’m impartial to mince pies anyway!

(Update: seems I was supposed to queue at SoupChick for the mince pie and wine, so in effect I’ve only got myself to blame!)

If many an art show restricts itself by pigeonholing a particular movement, introducing only a handful of local artists gave the show range, and a little bit of everything could be found there. From charming sculptured little clay houses to watercolour landscapes, and from Marc Shilling’s monochrome candlelight art to Caroline Le Bourgeois’ super-cute animal studies with a dash of humour, it was a diverse assortment, but everything was great in its own right.

Breathtakingly impact-art from our good friend, Clifton Powell really makes one stop and think, not that he’s adverse to also painting life studies of local scenes and wildlife too.

A total of thirteen artists submitted, many on hand to chat with, but I was surprised how busy it was, and a couple of loops around the Shambles still wasn’t enough to take it all in.

Emily Hodges gave us some stunning photography, Josey Lewis had some wonderful landscapes, and visually, Matt Gibson and Belinda Golledge wowed, but my particular favourite, aside the couple I was aware of, Clifton and Caroline, I stopped for the longest in perusal of the colourful acrylic canvasses of first-time exhibiting Elly Smith. I loved the swirling patterns and autumn leaves design, semi-psychedelic, part fantasy expressionism, Elly had an amazing dragon piece which really drew me into it.

As well as art for sale, the more affordable prints and greetings cards were also available. Neil Barnes’s regular stall “Pics n Bits,” also remained open, for a great assortment of more mainstream prints and gifts and collectables.

Organised by the independent businesses of The Shambles, Anya Toropov of SoupChick, which conveniently stayed open for refreshments, and Michelle Turner of Phoenix Health and Wellbeing, this was a great, general exhibit which appealed to all, and certainly drew the crowds. But remember, guys, art is not just for Christmas; more of this in the future, please!


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PREVIEW – White Horse Opera’s Production of Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amour”@ Lavington School, Devizes – Wednesday 26th, Friday 28th, and Saturday 29th October 2022

Opera Is Back! – The Elixir Of Love! – Go See This Show! by Andy Fawthrop We’ve said it before, and we feel no shame … Continue readingPREVIEW – White Horse Opera’s Production of Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amour”@ Lavington School, Devizes – Wednesday 26th, Friday 28th, and Saturday 29th October 2022

Ravilious’s Downland Man- Immersive Watercolours and Captivating History on Show at Wiltshire Museum

by T.B.D Rose

Stemming from an unfinished book of Eric Ravilious’s illustrations (including that of Westbury White Horse) which resurfaced in 2012 and which museum director David Dawson collected for Wiltshire Museum, the Eric Ravilious: Downland Man exhibition has been put together by guest curator James Russell (creator of a previous Ravilious exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in 2015) and tells the story of the fascinating man’s life and his iconic portraits of English landscapes.

With 9 years in the works and 4 years active planning, it has already attracted around 700 pre-booked visitors from all over the country.

Featuring loans from a number of National Museums, it’s a marvelous and recognisable sight to see for any southwesterner, with Ravilious’s signature realistically vivid, painstakingly gorgeous watercolours of countryside and landmarks right on the doorstep of Devizes locals.

See it while you can. The Exhibit runs from 25th September – 30th January 2022. In memory of Eric Ravilious (1903 – 1942).


The Great Rock N Roll Swindon; Anarchist Artists Unite

October at The Post-Modern Gallery, on Swindon’s Theatre Square, sees an irresistible exhibition for punks, general music or art aficionados, and devotees of the curious and unusual, The Great Rock N Roll Swindon. Running from the 2nd – 10th, it’s a free art show, the name of which was inspired by the Sex Pistols film and song, The Great Rock N Roll Swindle, and is part of a touring group exhibition organised by punk artist, David Apps.….

From 2012 over a six-year period he had staged six exhibitions a year, always with his artwork dominating the exhibition. From London, Essex and Cambridge to Newcastle and Berlin, he staged exhibitions, built up a large following and returned the following year, until opening his own successful gallery in the summer of 2017.

With Brexit and then the world closing down shortly after, sadly David had to close his beloved gallery in December 2020. “Lost and not knowing what to do,” he explains, “I decided to book an exhibition a month and go back to how I started out, booking venues and art galleries and taking the artwork on tour.”

The exhibition is made up of a plethora of artists from the original punk movement, alongside some extremely interesting artists and friends who David has worked with over the past seven years, including legendary singer of punk band the U.K Subs, Charlie Harper. Two Brixton based artists, Dalis & Angel, aka DnA Factory, who produce provocative and slightly wrong bright pinks!

British punk icon Gaye Black, AKA Gaye Advert exhibits too, a bassist with the Adverts, who hated being the female icon of the band. Her work has dark themes as well as the use of press images of herself and the band in her work.

Others include renowned artist in his own right and son of the artist Lucian Freud, David Freud, Mr Ben Art from Worthing with music-related and punk icon images made from old magazines, papers and paint under a thick resin; sounds real punk-paste. London based T-shirt designer, Sexy Hooligans, specialising in duplicate original Malcolm McLaren & Vivianne Westwood’s SEX design T-shirts and the Anarchy shirts worn by the Sex Pistols.

Two of the artists are originally from Swindon, Michelle Mildenhall, a Latex artist now based in Hastings, who’s work contains themes of bondage, face-gags and iconic faces, and Hammer Horror influenced gothic, Saffron Reichenbacker, with fun but angelic designs, Brighton based.

There’s also Northampton based artist, Monet Shot, with limited edition prints using consumerism themed products as his influence. World renowned mosaic slogan artist, Carrie Reichardt, of whom we’re advised it’s “well worth taking a look at her mosaic house in West London on Google.” Carrie will only be showing small works in the exhibition. Plus, a second mosaic artist, CuriousiTeas, who’s thought-provoking and humorous slogans are put onto custom-made teapots.

But the most interesting and topical sounding of all this bizarre collective, just when you think you’ve heard it all, must be Linda King, who creates large, decorative flat wooden Crows, of beautiful design, to hang in windows to stop birds flying into them. And Hastings based artist, Sassy Luke, who uses religious icons with a twist, and has a wide range of both religious and Covid design knickers.

And with the thought of religious and Covid design knickers I believe it’s best to leave it there. If you’re intrigued by any of this, such as the aforementioned Covid designed knickers, as much as I, you really need to take a peek into this, more works on display can be seen by following David’s Instagram account. I mean, who hasn’t tried wearing their facemask as undergarments for some light relief during lockdown? …. oh, just me then!


Win 2 tickets HERE

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Eric Ravilious: Downland Man

Unique exhibition to open at Wiltshire Museum

Featured Image: The Westbury White Horse © Towner Eastbourne

Finally opening at Wiltshire Museum on 25 September 2021 is Eric Ravilious: Downland Man, something we previewed on Devizine in October 2019, but, sadly, lockdown prevented.

This major exhibition explores for the first time the celebrated artist’s lifelong fascination for the chalk hills of southern England, particularly Wiltshire and Sussex.

The exhibition will feature more than 20 works borrowed from national collections and private collectors, including iconic watercolours such as The Westbury Horse and The Wilmington Giant, alongside other rarely-seen works.  The exhibition is supported by the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund.  Created by the Garfield Weston Foundation and Art Fund, the Weston Loan Programme is the first ever UK-wide funding scheme to enable smaller and local authority museums to borrow works of art and artefacts from national collections.

Central to the exhibition are several of Ravilious’s best-loved watercolours of chalk figures made in 1939 in preparation for a children’s book, Downland Man.  The book was never completed, and for many years the prototype or ‘dummy’ made by Ravilious was believed lost.  When it resurfaced in 2012 this precious item was bought at auction by Wiltshire Museum.  It will be included in the exhibition alongside some of the artist’s watercolours, aerial photographs, annotated Ordnance Survey maps, postcards and books that relate to the Ravilious works on show – material drawn largely from Wiltshire Museum’s own collection.

The exhibition will offer a new view of Eric Ravilious (1903-42) as a chronicler of the landscape he knew better than any other.  From his student days until the last year of his life, Ravilious returned again and again to the Downs, inspired particularly by the relationship between landscape and people.  Watercolours and wood engravings included in the exhibition show dew ponds and farmyards, a cement works and a field roller, modern military fortifications and ancient monuments. 

Eric Ravilious: Downland Man is curated by James Russell, previously curator of the 2015 blockbuster Ravilious at Dulwich Picture Gallery. He said ‘I studied History at Cambridge and I’m always intrigued by the social and cultural context of artists’ work.  When it comes to downland history and archaeology Wiltshire Museum has an unrivalled collection, making this exhibition a unique opportunity to shed new light on Ravilious – an artist who is well-known these days but still little understood. With watercolours such as ‘Chalk Paths’ and ‘The Vale of the White Horse’ on display, visitors are in for a treat.

Heather Ault, Exhibitions Officer said: ‘This is a wonderful opportunity for Wiltshire Museum to exhibit such beautiful works by Ravilious.  The exhibition will be an absolute delight’.

Sophia Weston, Trustee of the Garfield Weston Foundation, said: “We are delighted that the Weston Loan Programme has been able to support the display of these important works by Eric Ravilious in Wiltshire – an area of the country which repeatedly inspired this much-loved artist. The exhibition will bring his evocative landscapes to new audiences and shed light on material little-known by the public.”

Eric Ravilious: Downland Man opens at Wiltshire Museum on Saturday 25 September and closes on 30 January 2022.  Tickets can be pre-booked online at https://www.wiltshiremuseum.org.uk/prebooktickets/.

The exhibition ends on 30 January 2022.


win 2 tickets here

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Up to Trowbridge for Some Miller-Art

Halfway up the grand staircase of Trowbridge Town Hall, where it splits into left or right, my daughter, permanently two paces ahead of me, asked me which way now. I’d noted a sign to the art exhibit I’ve been aching to check out, so I called it. Problem was, the show is called “Up,” to which her only rejoinder could’ve been, “yes, I know it’s up, but which way?!!”

If I had reservations about the unpredictably positive response in asking if she wanted to come, being sports is her thing and creativity perhaps not so much, it was only that she might drag me around Usain-Bolt-going-for-gold fashion. Key to my pitch was that, essentially, the most appropriate movement in which to pigeonhole artist Tom Miller was street art, secondarily only to the fact she was “bored, with nothing better to do anyway!”

But it’s not her incentive on entry which is important here, rather her reaction inside the exhibit, and if she enjoyed it, which she did, anyone with a mere slither of a passing interest in art will we wowed by this show. For me, it was up my street and knocking loudly on my door.

Native to Trowbridge, Tom Miller exhibits at his hometown until 20th August, not long left to pay it a worthy visit. For yeah, Miller typically uses spray paint as street artists do, but only as a base for these canvases. He thickly layers acrylics and oils over it, amalgamating mediums as much as influences, in explosions of colour and meticulous and intricate detail. The result is staggering.

Swirls of psychedelia snake your eyes across them, akin to underground comix or yore, and in particular S. Clay Wilson. They can be themed darkly, with elements of cyberpunk, or lighter, fine art, impressionism is at play too. Yet there’s a nod to pop art, capturing humorous elements, wide-ranging themes from flowers to ice creams, and contemporary cultural icons, such as The Simpsons can be discovered on closer examination. Then, as you pan out, you begin to focus on a central point, the composition vortexes into a subject, often random, but themed to suit the surroundings. It is also a clear running concept to repeat the central subject atop the first, but slightly smaller in scale, and perhaps the topper most of one below, larger, like a play with a hall of mirrors.

Apt to mention a hall of mirrors, as there’s generally something fairground going on here, if the repetition of the central subject is cubist, it would be like viewing cubist art whilst on the waltzer. On a few occasions the subject can feel tangible, as fine art, expressionism, but with Miller’s style brashly expanding the realms of normality, somewhere along the lines. For this, and the running theme of these scaled duplications, Edvard Munch meets Marcel Duchamp in Salvador Dali’s studio, as the lines of expressionism, futurism and surrealism blur into dada in such a way only pop artists could’ve dreamed of.

But, as I said, if your knowledge of art doesn’t stretch to the influences and movements I’ve cited, none of it really matters, as why I contemplated René Magritte, my daughter also examined the concepts and discovered subjects. Like a Where’s Wally book, you could circle this exhibit twenty times and still discover something you’d not noticed before in these canvases.

Added to the pieces, there’s some sublime charcoal sketches, showing his workings and thought process. There’s also a bio, with printed matter showing the various private commissions and frescos which obviously couldn’t come to the exhibit, for quintessentially, Miller is a street artist, and in Bristol and round and about Trowbridge there’s some excellent examples. The brilliant finale to this show is, once you’ve left, you can make a beeline to Stallard Street to find such a wall with Miller’s art displayed, and in the same ethos as what’s on display inside. This added an extra dimension to the enthralling exhibit.

Plus, I’m pleased to say, Usain-Bolt had no influence over my daughter’s pace through the show, she took her time, examined everything and came out with some exceptionally precise observations. This is ideal to enthuse a non-art lover equally as much as one who is, as good street art does, but with the extra dimension of this influx of various art movement influences. Go see it, but hurry; it’s only running until 20th August!

Not forgoing Trowbridge Town Hall is a friendly place, where I gossiped and namedropped to the man on reception. There’s a vast and amazing array of events planned over the coming months, from the yoga classes to the PSG Choir and from Moo Moo Music for little ones to an impressive gig line up from the likes of Will Lawton & the Alchemists on 11th September, Onika Venus on 18th, Juice Menace on 25th, and on the list goes on….


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Help DOCA Brighten up Devizes; An Art Project for all Ages….

Devizes Outdoor Celebratory Arts are asking budding crafters and artists to help brighten up the town.

“Devizes is usually festooned with hanging baskets at this time of year,” they point out, “but they have been a bit absent since Covid struck and we miss them and all the colour they bring to the town. It got us thinking! We would like to create something equally colourful to decorate the streets of Devizes at our events, and we’d love your help to do this.”

There are two ways you can do this… 

Make flowers: They are asking anyone of any age to make flowers, so they can make beautiful garlands to drape over the barriers. You can make them out of anything, any size big or small, and DOCA will assemble them.

Materials that can stand getting wet and don’t take too long to dry are the best, old carrier bags, sweet wrappers, used foil wrapping paper, coffee wrappers whatever you can find. We know we have a talented bunch of folk in Devizes and we’d love to see what you come up with for this project. You can drop off your flowers at the Kingfisher Café on Devizes Wharf. Please try and avoid their busy lunch time periods. 

Draw pictures: DOCA invites children of 8 years or under to draw pictures of circus characters, performers or other festival or DOCA related things. They will pick out the best artwork and work with a graphic designer to make a montage which will be printed on gauzes to decorate the dull barriers  they use to divide up their events. Please send images as Jpegs.  

DOCA need your work to be sent in digital format, so you can scan it or take a picture and send it. The email to send your artwork to is docadevizes@gmail.com

More information here.


Please include your name and the age of the artist and even a photo of them holding the work and they’ll share it on their social media… I’d love to see them too!


Breakout to Chippenham’s Alternative Art Show

The flags of Israel and Palestine halved with a swish and a white dove stencilled over the top, was the starting point for a painting by Chippenham artist, Mike Long. We discussed his method, almost making it up as he went along, the original idea extends outwards as he progresses with a painting, rather like his unique tendency to continue the painting over the actual frame. Underneath the flags, a scene of a football game, with goalposts painted on tanks, in Mike’s sketchy Chagall style; this element developed while painting it.

We’re at Chippenham’s Yelde Hall in the Market Place, Mike’s turn on the rota to hold the fort. The alternative art show, Breakout is running for another week, until Saturday 3rd July. Open everyday except Sunday from 10am to 4pm, I call it “an art show” to break the preconceptions of words like “gallery” or “exhibit,” because here’s a display which finds an even ground between an often seen as tedious fine art gallery of standard landscapes or portraits, and the outright “arty” kind of off-putting “weird.” For this concept, it’s the sort of exhibit to appease anyone with only a passing interest in art; a contemporary pop art show.

Unlike two years past, when, teamed with two other artists, Si Griffiths and Emma Sally, they put on Never Mind The Heritage, Here’s Our Art Show, in the same venue, the three are joined by five other locally-based artists, each taking a panel, making for variety and a fuller experience. It’s a dazzling show, well worth paying a visit.

To start at the beginning, an artist I know only too well, Devizes-based Clifton Powell, takes the first panel. Recently commissioned to paint Abbot Hadrian for an English Heritage exhibition, The African Diaspora in England, in Canterbury, closer to home Clifton shows a few works from his ongoing “Unrest” series. They’re striking images, poignantly painted with realism, and take the subject of modern civil turbulence.

Works from the other artists exhibiting here are new to me. Jimmer Willmott, a pop surrealist from Bristol takes the next panel, describes his work as a “chaotic love affair of the cute and weird, running naked hand-in-hand with a bright, fun blend of humour and juxtaposition.” Indeed, words found in some excellently crafted Alphabetti Spaghetti, or American cops with donuts for heads in a more colourful vein than René Magritte’s The Son of Man, fits the bill.

Meanwhile, photographer Daniel Carmichael takes inspiration from patterns in small objects and the effects of time and the elements upon them. With a keen eye for a snap, autumn leaves covering a discarded men at work road sign, for example, captures a mood of manufactured versus nature.

 

Next is Mike Long’s varied styles, of expressionism, often Lowry-like scenes or steampunk imaginings which extends into the frame, involving it and creating the notion the subject continues after the confines of the image you’re looking at, these are ingenious works in which you’ll spot something different in each time you look at them. Also, I was surprised to see some graphical pieces too.

With environmental, often sombre themes, the ever-expressive Emma Sally is up next, she states her artwork this year has arisen from “feelings of frustration,” aptly.  A new direction, she says, “in articulating visceral emotions,” and the solemnity of a graveyard with woman dressed in black gazing at headstone is poignantly effective. Others are more sardonically abstract, the Earth ripped apart, rolled into sausage-shapes and knotted back together again being particularly adroit and stirring.

Mixed-media artist Helen Osborne Swan, creates a series of striking papier-mâché 3D masks, “open to the beholder’s interpretation,” but started with the Colston statue being toppled and daubed with paint. “There is a lot more behind the face we present to the world,” is a notion which could take us back to Clifton’s Unrest series, there’s a murky conception in these inventive faces protruding from the canvas at you, some obvious, but others, like the “too cool for skool” one of a younger with baseball cap and shades, you’re left uncertain as to the reason for their underhandedness.

Whereas Montague Tott leaves nothing to the imagination, trained as an illustrator “having to follow other people’s artistic direction,” given the freedom to express himself through his own work was “too great a temptation to ignore,” so he embarked on a more esoteric path. Inspired by classic oil paintings, Montague adds elements of horror movies, comics and popular culture into what would otherwise be a classic portrait. One of whom I suspect as silent-film actress Mabel Normand, painted with a child Freddy Kruger is particularly disconcerting, yet equally are the family portraits of half-man-half goat characters, as if trapped in a mansion of a fantasy novel.

And last up is the amazing, highly-skilled underground comix style of Si Griffiths, with his penchant for putting clowns or Frankenstein’s monster into unusual and inexplicable settings. Comically disturbing at times, in psychedelic visions or thriller movie surroundings, they bring an awkward smile.

If lockdown for the solitude profession of an artist hasn’t been so impacting on ability to work, it’s certainly had an impression on their subjects, but more so, producing a painting is only half the job; getting them out there is crucial financially. Do check this exhibit out if you can, it has Covid regulations in place, and is an airy hall. Importantly though, I feel here’s an art show you don’t need to be well-versed in art or an “arty sort” to enjoy and be entertained by. Neither will take up your entire day to browse, but with its less-is-more policy, there’s a varied bunch of alternative art on show, of which the standard is outstanding.


Trending…

Local Artist Clifton Powell Commissioned for English Heritage Exhibition The African Diaspora in England

A proud moment for Devizes-based artist Clifton Powell as he poses for a photo next to his amazing portrait of Abbot Hadrian, in Canterbury.

Clifton joins Elena Onwochei-Garcia, Glory Samjolly, Mikéla Henry-Lowe, Hannah Uzor and Chloe Cox in a project by English Heritage. EH has commissioned a series of portraits depicting six historic figures from the African diaspora whose stories have contributed to England’s rich history. Each artist has been supported by their curators and historians to creatively portray their subject. Each painting will be hung at the English Heritage site connected to its subject this summer.

St Hadrian of Canterbury played a pivotal role in the early history of the English Church. He was born in North Africa and travelled to Italy, most likely as a refugee, before making the journey to Canterbury. He was abbot of the monastery of St Peter and St Paul (later St Augustine’s) in Canterbury, between 670 and 710.

During his time in Canterbury, he became an influential teacher and scholar, and helped shape the theology and rites of worship of the English Church.

Clifton Powell studied at the Jamaica School of Art in Kingston, Jamaica, and moved to the UK in the late 1980s. A versatile and skilled painter, Clifton is influenced by the places he has travelled to and the people he’s met. He has taken part in numerous exhibitions and art fairs in London, Bath, Stroud and the West Country including the International Black Art Fair, The House of Emperor Haile Selassie, Bluestone Gallery and Diaspora at Salisbury Arts Centre.

You may also remember me reporting on the day I attended the charity-run art group for the elderly, Arts Together, in Melksham way back in February 2019, where I met with Clifton, who is a mentor and volunteer.

Recent areas of exploration in his work include the Wiltshire countryside, wildlife, birds, still life and his remarkable series of paintings depicting unrest in the world. He is currently working on a painting project titled African Art. You can catch his work closer to home, from 21st June to 3rd July at The Yelde Hall in Chippenham when he exhibits as part of Breakout, the Alternative Art Show.

A follow-up to the 2019 exhibit Never Mind The Heritage, Here’s an Art Show, in which three local artists, Si Griffiths, Mike Long and Emma Sally exhibited their “alternative art,” Breakout extends the concept, with additional artists Clifton, Daniel Carmichael, Helen Osborne-Swan, Jimmer Willmott and Montague Tott, as well as Si, Mike and Sally. I’m looking forward to this one.

While I’m on the subject of art, don’t forget we have an online art gallery on Devizine, yes we do! Each artist gets a page to show off their work, Clifton’s is here, and if you’d like to be featured with links to your website, just drop us a line, there is no fee.


Trending…..

DOCA Receives Culture Recovering Funding

The future of Devizes’ carnival and Outdoor Celebratory Arts is looking great, as DOCA announce today some exciting news; they are delighted to have received funding from the government’s #CultureRecoveryFund.

The much-needed funding will cover their overheads in the coming months. Allowing investments in developing their Board of Trustees, employ a Volunteer Coordinator and begin reconnecting with the existing “family” of volunteers. They also seek new recruits to help deliver the fantastic program of events. Such as new volunteer coordinator, Holly Solo-Hawthorn, who joined the team in last November. If volunteering with DOCA is something you are interested in please email: docavolunteer@gmail.com

Chair of the Trustees, Kelvin Nash said, “we know people can’t wait to get out and meet up with others and enjoy all the things we might have taken for granted before COVID. We also know we are very privileged to receive this funding that will help us continue bringing great events to Devizes. We hope everyone will continue to support us this year to make these events happen safely, plans are still tentative of course, but it does feel like there is now a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Artistic Director, Loz Samuels expressed although DOCA are able to start planning Summer events, not all of the usual events will be back this year. “This year will have a different feel but we know that it will be just as amazing as ever. There will be no Confetti Battle this year we hope to combine the Colour Rush with the Street Festival which will add an explosion of colour to the day and we hope to attract some new people along to the event.”

As we look forward to future events in Devizes, DOCA will be touching base with market traders and coordinating a hopeful new season of celebrations. Here’s the plan to date:

Sunday 22nd August 2021 – Picnic in the Park

Monday 30th August 2021 – Devizes International Street Festival

Monday 30th August 2021 – Colour Rush

Friday 26th November 2021 – Winter Parade

Saturday 27th November 2021 – 31 Trees and Counting

Saturday 26th & Sunday 27th Feb 2022 – Festival of Winter Ales

Image: Gail Foster

Online Stuff 2 Do This Half Term

Yay! Home Schooling is out for half term, but before it’s replaced with excruciating racket, higgledy-piggledy hullabaloos, and junior revolutionary uprisings, diligent stay-at-home parents teetering on the edge of wine o’clock should note, if the outside activity mountain won’t come to Muhammad, well, Muhammad has to get there online. Here’s some “lit” bodacious suggies to get him harnessing his crampons….

No, I’ve no idea what that meant either, just hit me with your suggestions, homies, and I’ll add them here without beef!

Firstly, keep them well fed, and if you’re having difficulty…….

FREE SCHOOL MEALS ELIGIBILITY

Wiltshire Council is urging families who find themselves in difficult circumstances to check if they are also eligible for free school meals and the holiday food funding. Families can find out details of how to apply for free school meals support on the Wiltshire Council website including those families on: -• Income Support• Job Seeker’s Allowance (income-based)• Employment and Support Allowance (income-related)• Support under part six of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999• The Guarantee element of State Pension Credit• Child Tax Credit – providing you are NOT entitled to Working Tax Credit and your family’s annual income (as assessed by HMRC) is not more than £16,190 (as at 6 April 2012)• Working Tax Credit ‘run-on’ – the payment you may receive for a further four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit• Universal Credit (provided you have an annual net earned income of no more than £7,400, as assessed by earnings from up to three of your most recent assessment periods) • Better2Gether Funding (two year olds only) Universal Credit – if you and your partner are on a low income from work (this usually means a combined income of less than £15,400 a year after tax)Or if the two year old child: -• Has a statutory statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN) or an Education, Health and Care Plan.• Has left local authority care through a Special Guardianship Order, adoption or a Residence Order• Is currently a Looked After Child, for example in foster care• Is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)People should apply directly to Wiltshire Council if they are eligible but currently do not have free school meals by using the form on the Council website.

Morrisons Kids Meal and Pizza making Boxes Here!


Creative

Stuff!

Get Cartooning!

There’s always cartoon and comic workshops to get creative darlings budding. Enter Beano artist and charismatic comedian Kev F, whose Comic Art Masterclass usually travels the schools and libraries of the country, and ends with some seriously entertained kids each with their own homemade comic. The only need to travel is to grab some paper and pens now Kev’s class is online.

But check here for a number of different creators giving away their artistic secrets in comic workshops…


The End of the Pier Show

Jonny Fluffypunk presents a brand spanking new show for families, with poetry, puppetry, story, song and a healthy dose of ramshackle anarchy.

Cooking

Stuff!

The Farm Cookery School in Netherstreet

have their popular holiday clubs online, and are available to book NOW! They are only £10 – £15 per login and that includes LIVE Tuition as well as a Recipe and Ingredients Guide which will be emailed to you straight away. Just imagine, dinner may be served by your little horrors!

Learning

Stuff!

Family half term activities among online events at Chippenham Museum

Prior to lockdown Wiltshire Museum were really enjoying hosting Curious Kids sessions for under 5’s and their grown-ups. They have adapted sessions to deliver them on zoom. A chance for younger children to have some interaction with people from outside the home and for families to learn, create and play together – supported by the museum.

February Half term session will focus on Saxon Crafts and will look at weaving jewellery.


STEM Venturi

 February Half Term online coding courses for 7 – 12+ year olds. Also debuting Girls Who Code course…… Lots of coding courses including Minecraft!


Music

Stuff!

Open to all young people aged 12 – 18s who love to sing, the new Wiltshire Youth Choir (WYC) will take your singing and performance to the next level.
– Learn from inspiring choir leaders with years of professional experience
– Explore music from different genres: musical theatre, pop, classical and more…
– Work towards performances in some of the county’s top music venues
Join us for our next free virtual Come and Sing workshop on Thursday, 18 February, 10.00 – 12.00 via zoom.

Trending now….

Devizine’s Review of 2020; You Can’t Polish a Turd!

On Social and Political Matters……

For me the year can be summed up by one Tweet from the Eurosceptic MEP and creator of the Brexit Party, Nigel Farage. A knob-jockey inspired into politics when Enoch Powell visited his private school, of which ignored pleas from an English teacher who wrote to the headmaster encouraging him to reconsider Farage’s appointed prefect position, as he displayed clear signs of fascism. The lovable patriot, conspiring, compulsive liar photographed marching with National Front leader Martin Webster in 1979, who strongly denies his fascist ethos despite guest-speaking at a right-wing populist conference in Germany, hosted by its leader, the granddaughter of Adolf Hitler’s fiancé; yeah, him.

He tweeted “Christmas is cancelled. Thank you, China.” It magically contains every element of the utter diabolical, infuriating and catastrophic year we’ve most likely ever seen; blind traditionalist propaganda, undeniable xenophobia, unrefuted misinformation, and oh yes, the subject is covid19 related.

And now the end is near, an isolated New Year’s Eve of a year democracy prevailed against common sense. The bigoted, conceited blue-blooded clown we picked to lead us up our crazy-paved path of economic self-annihilation has presented us with an EU deal so similar to the one some crazy old hag, once prime minster delivered to us two years back it’s uncanny, and highly amusing that Bojo the clown himself mocked and ridiculed it at the time. I’d wager it’s just the beginning.

You can’t write humour this horrifically real, the love child of Stephen King and Spike Milligan couldn’t.

Still, I will attempt to polish the turd and review the year, as it’s somewhat tradition here on Devizine. The mainstay of the piece, to highlight what we’ve done, covered and accomplished with our friendly website of local entertainment and news and events, yet to holistically interrelate current affairs is unavoidable.

We have even separated the monster paragraphs with an easier, monthly photo montage, for the hard of thinking.

January

You get the impression it has been no walk in the park, but minor are my complaints against what others have suffered. Convenient surely is the pandemic in an era brewing with potential mass hysteria, the need to control a population paramount. An orthornavirae strain of a respiratory contamination first reported as infecting chickens in the twenties in North Dakota, a snip at 10,400km away from China.

Decidedly bizarre then, an entire race could be blamed and no egg fried rice bought, as featured in Farage’s audacious Tweet, being it’s relatively simple to generate in a lab, inconclusively originated at Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, rather spread from there, and debatably arrived via live bat or pangolin, mostly used in traditional Chinese medicine, a pseudoscience only the narrowminded minority in China trusts.

Ah, inconsistent pseudoscience, embellished, unfalsifiable claims, void of orderly practices when developing hypotheses and notably causing hoodwinked cohorts. Yet if we consider blaming an ethos, rather than a race, perhaps we could look closer to home for evidence of this trend of blind irrationality. Truth in Science, for example, an English bunch of Darwin-reputing deluded evangelicals who this year thought it’d be a grand and worthy idea to disguise their creationist agenda and pitch their preposterous pseudoscientific theory that homosexuality is a disease of the mind which can be cured with electro-shock treatment to alter the mind inline with the body’s gender, rather than change the body to suit the mind’s gender orientation, to schoolchildren!

Yep, these bible-bashing fruit-bats, one lower than flat earth theorists actually wrote to headmasters encouraging their homophobia to be spread to innocent minds, only to be picked up by a local headmaster of the LGBTQ community. Here’s an article on Devizine which never saw the light of day. Said that Truth in Science’s Facebook page is chockful with feedback of praise and appreciation, my comments seemed to instantly disappear, my messages to them unanswered. All I wanted was a fair-sided evaluation for an article, impossible if you zip up.

Justly, no one trusts me to paint an unbiased picture. This isn’t the Beeb, as I said in our 2017 annual review: The chances of impartiality here, equals the chances of Tories sticking to their manifesto. Rattling cages is fun, there’s no apologies I’m afraid, if I rattled yours, it just means you’re either mean or misguided.

Herein lies the issue, news travels so fast, we scroll through social media unable to digest and compose them to a greater picture, let alone muster any trust in what we read. I’m too comfortable to reside against the grain, everyone’s at it. I reserve my right to shamelessly side with the people rather than tax-avoiding multinationals and malevolent political barons; so now you know.

February

If you choose to support these twats that’s your own lookout, least someone should raise the alarm; you’d have thought ignoring World Health Organisation advise and not locking down your country until your mates made a packet on horseracing bets is systematic genocide and the government should be put on trial for this, combined with fraud and failure of duty. If not, ask why we’re the worst hit country in the world with this pandemic. Rather the current trend where the old blame the young, the young blame the old, the whites blame the blacks, the thin blame the fat, when none of us paid much attention to restrictions because they were delivered in a confused, nonsensical manner by those who don’t either, and mores to the pity, believe they’re above the calling of oppressive regulations.

If you choose to support these twats, you’re either a twat too, or trust what you read by those standing to profit from our desperation; ergo, twats. Theres no getting away from the fact you reep what you sow; and the harvest of 2020 was a colossal pile of twat.


Onto Devizine…. kind of.

For me what started as a local-based entertainment zine-like blog, changed into the only media I trust, cos I wrote the bollocks! But worser is the general obliteration of controversy, criticism and debate in other media. An argument lost by a conformer is shadowed behind a meme, or followed up with a witch hunt, a torrent of personal abuse and mockery, usually by inept grammar by a knuckle-dragging keyboard warrior with caps-lock stuck on; buy a fucking copy of the Oxford Guide to English Grammar or we’re all going to hell in a beautiful pale green boat.

We’re dangerously close to treating an Orwellian nightmare as a self-help guide, and despite fascists took a knockdown in the USA and common sense prevailed, the monster responded with a childish tantrum; what does this tell you? The simple fact, far right extremism is misled and selfish delinquency which history proves did no good to anyone, ever. Still the charade marches on, one guy finished a Facebook debate sharing a photo of his Boris “get Brexit done” tea-towel. I pondered when the idiot decided a photo of his tea towel would suffice to satisfy his opinion and convince others, before or after the wave of irony washed over his head in calling them Muppets.

I hate the term, it’s offensive. Offensive to Jim Henson’s creations; try snowflake or gammon, both judgemental sweeping generalisations but personally inoffensive to any individual, aside Peppa Pig. I wager you wander through Kent’s lorry park mocking the drivers and calling them snowflakes rather than tweeting; see how far you get.

So, the initial lockdown in March saw us bonded and dedicated, to the cause. We ice-skated through it, developed best methods to counteract the restrictions and still abide by them; it was kind of nice, peaceful and environmentally less impacting. But cracks in the ice developed under our feet, the idea covid19 was a flash in pan, akin to when Blitz sufferers asserted it’d all be over by Christmas, waned as we came to terms, we were in it for the duration.

Yet comparisons to WWII end there, lounging on the sofa for three months with Netflix and desperate peasants delivering essential foodstuff, like oysters, truffles and foie gras is hardly equivalent to the trench warfare of Normandy. Hypocritical is me, not only avoiding isolation as, like a nurse, my labour was temporarily clapped as key worker in March, I figured my site would only get hits if I wrote something about Covid19, and my ignorance to what the future resulted in clearly displayed in spoofy, ill-informed articles, Corona Virus and Devizine; Anyone got a Loo Roll? on the impending panic-buying inclination, and later, I Will Not Bleat About Coronavirus, Write it Out a Hundred Times…

The only thing I maintained in opinion to the subject, was that it should be light-hearted and amusing; fearing if we lose our sense of humour, all is lost. Am I wrong? Probably, it’s been a very serious year.

It was my first pandemic-related mention, hereafter nearly every article paid reference to it, no matter how disparate; it’s the tragedy which occupied the planet. But let’s go back, to oblivious January, when one could shake hands and knew where the pub was. Melksham got a splashpad, Devizes top councillors bleated it wasn’t fair, and they wanted a splashpad too. They planned ripping out the dilapidated brick shithouses on the Green and replacing it with a glorious splashpad, as if they cared about the youth of the town. I reported the feelings of grandeur, Splashpad, I’m all over it, Pal! A project long swept under the carpet, replaced with the delusion we’ll get an affordable railway station. As I said, convenient surely is the pandemic.

So many projects, so many previews of events, binned. Not realising at the time my usual listing, Half Term Worries Over; things to do with little ones during February half-term… would come to an abrupt halt. Many events previewed, the first being the Mayoral Fundraising Events, dates set for the Imberbus, and Chef Peter Vaughan & Indecision’s Alzheimer’s Support Chinese New Year celebration, to name but a few, I’m unaware if they survived or not.

March


On Music……

But it was the cold, early days of winter, when local concerns focused more on the tragic fire at Waiblingen Way. In conjunction with the incredible Liz Denbury, who worked tirelessly organising fundraising and ensuring donations of essentials went to the affected folk, we held a bash in commemoration and aid down that there Cellar Bar; remember?

It was in fact an idea by Daydream Runaways, who blew the low roof off the Cellar Bar at the finale. But variety was the order of the evening, with young pianist prodigy Will Foulstone kicking us off, opera with the amazing Chole Jordan, Irish folk with Mirko and Bran of the Celtic Roots Collective and the acoustic goodness of Ben Borrill. Thanks also has to go to the big man Mike Barham who set up the technical bits before heading off to a paid gig. At the time I vowed this will be the future of our events, smaller but more than the first birthday bash; never saw it coming, insert sad-face emoji.

We managed to host another gig, though, after lockdown when shopping was encouraged by In:Devizes, group Devizes Retailers and Independents, a assemblage of businesses set up to promote reopening of town. We rocked up in Brogans and used their garden to have a summer celebration. Mike set up again, and played this time, alongside the awesome Cath and Gouldy, aka, Sound Affects on their way to the Southgate, and Jamie R Hawkins accompanied Tamsin Quin with a breath-taking set. It was lovely to see friends on the local music scene, but it wasn’t the reopening for live music we anticipated.

Before all this live music was the backbone of Devizine, between Andy and myself we previewed Bradford Roots Music Festival, MantonFest, White Horse Opera’s Spring Concert, Neeld Hall’s Tribute to Eddie Cochran, and the return of Asa Murphy. We reviewed the Long Street Blues Club Weekender, Festival of Winter Ales, Chris O’Leary at Three Crowns, Jon Walsh, Phil Jinder Dewhurst, Mule and George Wilding at The White Bear, Skandal’s at Marlborough’s Lamb, and without forgetting the incredible weekly line-up at the Southgate; Jack Grace Band, Arnie Cottrell Tendency, Skedaddle, Navajo Dogs, Lewis Clark & The Essentials, King Street Turnaround, Celtic Roots Collective, Jamie, Tamsin, Phil, and Vince Bell.

The collection of Jamie R Hawkins, Tamsin Quin and Phil Cooper at the Gate was memorable, partly because they’re great, partly because, it was the last time we needed to refer to them as a collection (save for the time when Phil gave us the album, Revelation Games.) Such was the fate of live music for all, it was felt by their newly organised trio, The Lost Trades, whose debut gig came a week prior to lockdown, at the Pump, which our new writer Helen Robertson covered so nicely.

For me, the weekend before the doom and gloom consisted of a check-in at the Cavy, where the Day Breakers played, only to nip across to Devizes Sports Club, where the incredible Ruzz Guitar hosted a monster evening of blues, with his revue, Peter Gage, Innes Sibun and Jon Amor. It was a blowout, despite elbow greetings, I never figured it’d be the last.

It was a knee-jerk reaction which made me set up a virtual festival on the site. It was radical, but depleted due to my inability to keep up with an explosion of streamed events, where performers took to Facebook, YouTube sporadically, and other sites on a national scale, and far superior tech knowhow took over; alas there was Zoom. I was happy with this, and prompted streaming events such as Swindon’s “Static” Shuffle, and when PSG Choirs Showed Their True Lockdown Colours. Folk would message me, ask me how the virtual festival was going to work, and to be honest, I had no idea how to execute the idea, but it was worth a stab.

One thing which did change, musically, was we lowered our borders, being as the internet is outernational and local bands were now being watched by people from four corners of the world, Devizine began reviewing music sourced worldwide. Fair enough, innit?

The bleeding hearts of isolated artists and musicians, no gigs gave them time on their hands to produce some quality music, therefore our focus shifted to reviewing them, although we always did review records. Early local reviews of 2020 came from NerveEndings with the single Muddy Puddles, who later moved onto an album, For The People. Daydream Runaways’ live version of Light the Spark and Talk in Code’s Like That, who fantastically progressed through lockdown to a defining eighties electronica sound with later singles Taste the Sun and Secret.

We notified you of Sam Bishop’s crowdfunding for a quarantine song, One of a Kind, which was released and followed by Fallen Sky. Albums came too, we covered, Billy Green 3’s Still in January, and The Grated Hits of the Real Cheesemakers followed, With the former, later came a nugget of Billy Green’s past, revealing some lost demos of his nineties outfit, Still, evidently what the album was named after.

Whereas the sublime soul of Mayyadda from Minnesota was the first international artist featured this year, and from Shrewsbury, our review of Cosmic Rays’ album Hard to Destroy extended our presence elsewhere in the UK, I sworn to prioritise local music, with single reviews of Phil Cooper’s Without a Sound, TheTruzzy Boys’ debut Summertime, Courage (Leave it Behind), a new single from Talk in Code, and for Daydream Runaways’ single Gravity we gave them an extensive interview. This was followed by Crazy Stupid Love and compiled for an EP, Dreamlands, proving they’re a band continuously improving.

April