Wednesday 30 October 2013

Midweek Ramble, Observer’s Books, Pleasurama again and is the blog becoming too much of a problem?

I have been pricing observer’s books this is a collectable series of books and collecting them is open to all as prices start at less than a pound with the average observer’s in its dust wrapper selling for about £2.50.

Observer’s have just about made it out of the world of collectable books and into he world of general collectables, which means in some case some unusually high prices, reproduction dust wrappers and a mythology all to themselves.

Some have a printers code, either at the front or the back of the book the last two digits of which tell you the year it was printed in, this can be before the year of publication.

There are numerous cover variations for the same book and sometimes different dust wrappers on the same edition (with the same printers code) like the bottom two 1951 British Wild Flowers in the picture.

The Pleasurama task and finish group meets tomorrow, this is the one where the council have supplied answers to the group’s questions which are different to the answers the council have given in response to foi requests.

There is also a rumour that the developer has submitted another set of proposals as to how they could still finance building the development, it is expected that these will be discussed by cabinet in a couple of weeks time.

With so many people now interested in the Pleasurama development I have taken a back burner approach to this business of the financial integrity of the developer, I stated years ago that I had reservations about the council proceeding with a developer without any proven track record. I followed this up with a foi request to the council asking if the council had any information that the developer had ever developed anything, to which the council replied no.

I guess the thing that makes it very difficult is that there is no real point of contact for the developer and no real person who seems to both support the development and be able to answer reasonable questions about the development. The most basic questions, like, why no flood risk assessment? Still have only the; because we aren’t legally obliged to have one, answer.

Blog comment here seems to have degenerated to commentators insulting each other, it has got so boring that I am finding it a struggle to even read the comments, so apologies if I haven’t removed all of the unsuitable comments.

Sunday 27 October 2013

Sunday ramble a few pictures of Margate Beach Cross 2013

Sorry about the photos, I was down wind facing into the sun using the camera in my mobile phone and had very little time.

What to Ramble about?

Friday 25 October 2013

Goods stolen from ship in distress in the Ramsgate area

This is from the calendar of Patent Rolls for 1299 and appears to be the first written account of a shipping related incident in the Ramsgate area.

It seems some of the locals appropriated some armour and other goods from a ship that floundered here, the names Martin de Rammesgate, Richard de Northwode, John the chaplain of St Lawrence give the game away.

The hearing decided they had to return the goods to their rightful owner.

Local history this far back is a fairly inexact business, and I guess this is a small window into Ramsgate life 700 years ago.

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Mike Trim exhibition at The York Street Gallery in Ramsgate and possible ramble.

Here are the pictures of the pictures and the artist Mike Trim.

The Exhibition is on until next Wednesday and well worth a visit.

 Next as you see Greggs the bakers have definitely gone from Ramsgate.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Royal Sands Development on the Pleasurama site in Ramsgate this time it’s have the council misplaced £800,000?

First two pictures from Ben, then and now ones relating to one of the cliff collapses in the area of the site.

If you expand the now picture you can see the tell tale cracks in the road surface which indicate movement of the chalk below.

However what this post is about is that the council have published the agenda for the “Pleasurama site review task and finish group” scheduled for 31st of this month

One of the associated documents contains answers to some of the questions that councillors put to council offices at the last meeting.

One aspect of these questions relates to the developer SFP’s financial commitment to the project i.e. how much have they actually spent on it?

Here is the question:

“Statements have been aired publicly regarding the construction costs borne by the developer. Does TDC have any proof of this expenditure? If so, how much in total and has it been justified as reasonable?”

and here is the officer’s answer:

“Over £600k has been spent on reinforcing the cliff facing wall; TDC undertook this work which was paid for by the Developer.

Road and drainage works have been undertaken by the developer – TDC have no detailed costs for these works.

Site works including laying the foundations – we do not have detailed costs for these works.

A sum of £1 million has been paid to the council as a bond in relation to the completion of the hotel.

There are professional fees for a significant number of aspects of the development – but the council do not have the detailed costs of these.

The developer has indicated that the total of these costs to be between £4- £5m, but the exact sum has not been a major issue as the significant sums obviously invested demonstrate a serious intent with regard to the site.”

The trouble here this bit “Over £600k has been spent on reinforcing the cliff facing wall; TDC undertook this work which was paid for by the Developer” difficult as TDC have already stated in response to an foi request I made at the time that the developer only contributed £100k to the works, which they said cost about £900k and was paid for out of your and my council tax.

So either someone has pocketed £800k or TDC’s new answers are a bit economical with the truth. 

It does make one wonder about the professional fees of between four and five million pounds, I mean professional fees wouldn’t mean the cost of actually doing something, but would be the fees for who? Architect perhaps, seems a tad on the high side, particularly in view of the various problems with the plans being the wrong height and the various attempts to get the building to fit in the space available.  

Anyway if anyone finds an envelope with £800,000 in it, then it probably belongs to those nice people at council and if anyone finds one with around £4,500,000 in it then it probably belongs to those nice people at SFP.

Monday 21 October 2013

Pleasurama, Royal Sands Development in Ramsgate, another moan.

I mostly try to avoid this one now as it has been taken over by plenty of people who seem to want to get it resolved. Frankly I don’t think much is going to happen about it until the end of this winter when the development agreement runs out.

What does worry me though is that the abandoned site isn’t being looked after, the picture taken last Thursday shows the tip of the iceberg, no proper site security.

Not really sure how dangerous going onto the abandoned building site is, but it isn’t somewhere you want your children going or to have to get your dog out of.

The main issue here for me is the cliff façade and I think this is particularly important with the winter coming on, there are two aspects of this and I will treat them separately for clarity.

Firstly dealing with the latest inspection report, that relates to the inspection of the cliff façade around the end of 2011 the report draft dated 02/03/2012 the final report dated 31/07/2012; this says:

“For the arched and portal sections, vegetation shall be removed and the various fine cracks in the facade should be prepared with an angle grinder and filled with a suitable flexible crack repair filler such as Watco flexible crack sealant and over painted after 24 hours. Weep holes shall be cleared of vegetation.

The infill panels of portals 13 and 18 of the portal section shall be removed, the chalk face inspected and the block work replaced with 30N/mm2 200mm thick block work and painted.

For the concrete barrier, defects in the top original coping should be repaired by scabbling to sound concrete and applying a suitable epoxy levelling mortar such as Sikagard-720 EpoCem or high build cementitious repair mortar such as Sika MonoTop-615 depending upon the depth of the defect.

For the masonry wall, the render should be hacked off, the brickwork re-pointed and a new render applied retained and reinforced with expanded metal laths fixed to the masonry. Joints in the render shall be provided.

A suitable inspection and maintenance regime should be instigated. This can take the form of regular visual checks of the high level promenade looking for tension cracks in the new surfacing or settlement especially after prolonged periods of rainfall. A detailed structural survey of the wall façade and concrete barrier should be carried out every 3 years.”

I don’t really know when the council intends to do this work nor do I know what the effects of leaving it for a few years is likely to be, whether there is a “stitch in time” element here that is going to cost the council in the future. I do know like everyone else who looks at the thing, that it looks bad and it also looks a lot worse than it did in the winter of 2011 – 2012 when it was last inspected by professional engineers.

Secondly is the façade foundations issue, what has happened here is that the developer’s contractor has temporarily lowered the ground at the bottom of the cliff façade. In some parts of the façade this doesn’t matter as the foundations are much lower, but in some parts the ground below the façade foundations has been exposed.

Exposing this for a short time while the development’s groundworks were done is one thing, leaving it exposed for several years while the legal problems relating to the development agreement not being adhered by the developer, is altogether something else.

In short what is happening here is that public bill is accumulating, the thing has already suffered from neglect resulting in the council having to spend about a million on it and now it is evidently being neglected again.

Saturday 19 October 2013

Turner and Constable: Sketching from Nature, Louisa Love: Matter of Matter, Dorothy Cross: Connemara, Rachel Johnston: Horizons of our Coast, Hannah Allison-Finucane: Untitled. Notes towards a review of the exhibitions at the Turner Contemporary Art Gallery in Margate, October 2013.

The main exhibition “Turner and Constable: Sketching from Nature” is 75 primarily landscape pictures painted between about 1770 and 1850. Most of these paintings where wholly or partly painted in the field and most are painted using oil paint.

This stems from the time that ready mixed oil paint became available and artists were able to use it outside the studio without much difficulty (not tubes then but various animal bladders). You will notice that a lot of the paintings are painted in oil on paper and are fairly small.

In practical terms, watercolour dries quickly and doesn’t smudge when you close the pad of paper, oil doesn’t so an oil on a bit of board or on paper has to be protected until it is dried, this often takes weeks.

If you have a close look at an artists paint box that is designed for painting outside you will see that the palate clips in the lid leaving a space where the painting can sit without the brushes and tubes of paint coming into contact with it and smudging it.

Tape a sheet of paper, (acrylic paper seems to be best for this) inside the lid of your box and you can whack the oil paint straight on, the artists in around 1800 would have had to prepare their paper – several coats of seize or gesso for favourite – the W&N paper intended for painting acrylic paint on doesn’t seem to need any preparation at all, and yes they do make paper intended for painting oil paint on, but it is a bit on the slippery side.    

Art from this period tends towards a scientific representation of reality, later on the Victorian art tends to be more sentimental, and of course the Victorians invented photography, which leans towards the scientific representation.

I have reproduced the first few pictures in the exhibition below I am a bit concerned about getting involved in copyright issues, The Turner Contemporary press website isn’t doing what I should, so as all of the paintings are on loan from the Tate Gallery I have linked to the images there.      
1 John Constable Dedham from near Gun Hill, Langham c.1815
2 Joseph Mallord William Turner A Narrow Valley c.1807
3 George Stubbs Newmarket Heath, with a Rubbing-Down House c.1765

4 George Garrard Coombe Hill 1791
5 Sir George Howland Beaumont, Bt Landscape c. 1795    ??
6 Alexander Cozens Wooded Coast Scene date not known
7 Thomas Jones Naples: Buildings on a Cliff Top 1782
8 Thomas Jones Pencerrig 1776

I hope I have got the right pictures in the right order, the exhibition catalogue doesn’t have the same numbers as the pictures and although I have a list of the pictures numbered as they are hanging in the gallery, there is an element of luck involved here.

Frankly 75 landscape pictures mostly executed in a fairly similar style is difficult to take in in one go, it is very easy to muddle up the artists in ones mind and as a bit of a slow thinker it will take me some time and several visits to the exhibition before I really feel I have the measure of it.  

Some of them with stately homes in the background put one more than a little in mind of The Draughtsman's Contract, there is a frission of sexual ambiguity between the ladies of the house and the artist there.

On to Louisa Love, "Matter of Matter" this is the largest of the graduate exhibitions, taking up a whole room where Louisa is unpacking her studio in what is something between performance art and going beyond the type of thing that has been done where the exhibit has been. What? The artist’s studio a mock up of the artist’s studio.

The difference here being that some of the time the artist is present and roughly speaking investigating the area where the artist stops and the art starts. Fortunately photography is allowed in this one.

The pictures should expand – to fill the available space - when clicked on compulsively.     

On to  Dorothy Cross: Connemara her video says it all really 

On to Rachel Johnston; Horizons of our coast.

Finally Hannah Allison-Finucane: Untitled.

Worth going to? Well yes it is really, a good mix of contemporary art and conventional oil paintings.

There is also Juan Muñoz: Conversation Piece III, in the gallery, this has been there since March, so I guess most people will have seen it. You know the weebly one, perhaps you don’t so here are some pictures of that. 

I have one main method of judging an exhibition and this is did it make me want to go and sketch? Children in tow and therefore Café G, it was that or MacDonald’s, the fayre the gallery’s café being to complex and the weather too inclement for a picnic. Here is the sketch straight after the gallery visit.  
and here a photo of what I was trying to draw.

So what of the exhibitions, the main one 75 landscape oils, frankly I would – if making a special journey – want to have prepared myself, familiarised myself with the paintings, type of thing.

There is a list in the gallery although not anywhere I can find on the internet, so I have taken it into the garden – like Maude? And photographed it, all of the paintings came from the Tate and can be found – descriptions and pictures of the pictures, by putting the name of the artist and the name of the painting into the search box on their website

I am afraid that going around galleries with “I know what I like” in my head isn’t enough and although the exhibition is free, if you have had the expense of travelling there and eating out, you my also wish to approach the thing prepared in some way.

So here are the pictures of the pages of the list sorry I didn’t have time to type it out   
I will add to this post as time becomes available