Tag Archives: art writing


Nathan Coley’s Illuminated Sculpture, ‘You Imagine What you Desire’ in St Nicholas’s, ‘the mother church of Brighton’

A few weeks ago I headed to Brighton to cover the opening of HOUSE and the Brighton Festival for the Learned Pig. You can read the article on the Learned Pig here: And below are some extracts along with a kind of photo-journal.

IMG_20150502_195820Nathan Coley’s ‘Parade Sculptures’ in The Regency Townhouse

“We’re here at the University of Brighton Gallery on a tour of the Brighton Gallery and HOUSE commissions listening as Varda describes the piece as her “hymn to coloured-plastic”. Entitled Beaches, Beaches, it’s a celebration of the life of summer and all of the colours it proposes. A ludic homage to the bright paraphernalia of the “beach spectacle”, Varda’s installation resembles a half-remembered dream of some now-distant trip to the beach, giddily recalled as a hot explosion of colour and Vitamin D.”


Rachel Kneebone’s sensual porcelain sculptures and texts

“A relict is “a surviving remnant of a natural phenomenon” and in Brighton and Sussex it’s found in abundance on the coastline in the pebble-dash piled up by the tides. As the voices of the workmen in Loomes’s video tell us: “the aggregate that we dredge up is quite often the end of a riverbed from the ice age. The aggregate won’t have seen the light of day for millions of years, one hundred and fifty million years or more.”


Souvenirs – Brighton Rock

“Coley’s reflections on the “politics, people and place” of Brighton, which is, in his own words, a “nowhere made somewhere through an act of terrorism”, might make us wonder if the Brighton bombing isn’t the most pervasive “relict material” to survive in this seafront community.”



A few weeks ago I went on a press trip to the Liverpool Biennial for the Learned Pig. You can read my article and review of the Biennial events across the city at the Learned Pig here. In this blog post I’ve included my own oral parable which focuses on the discovery of a mural painted by my relative in the beautiful Old Blind School building.


This year the Liverpool Biennial’s constellation of exhibitions, events and curatorial side-shows are grouped under the title, ‘A Needle Walks into a Haystack.’ Whether you read the play of words as a joke, a surreal oral parable, or a maxim on the banal and the domestic: it’s easy to feel like the needle walking into the haystack when you begin your hopscotch across Liverpool’s art map or enter the labyrinthine, peeling corridors of the Old Blind School for the central exhibition.

The power to make you feel like the main protagonist in an oral parable, passed by word of mouth, needle-like, between the blackened terraced houses of Liverpool’s sloping streets, is the Biennial’s greatest achievement. It’s a clever trick and it sucks you in. So here’s my needle in a haystack story: read it, repeat it, pass it on to a friend, and then visit the Biennial and find a story of your own.

Every year the Biennial seeks out venues with their own local character and this time the historic Old Blind School has been chosen as the contextual and cultural backdrop. On the outside Liverpool is a city of quarry-red terraced houses and smoked-black brickwork, its tar dock-waters shrouded under grey, but the Old Blind School’s interior is a peeling palette of inexplicable pastel shades: lemon yellows, mint greens, soft pinks, baby blues and shades of beige.


In 1791 the Liverpool School for the Blind was founded by local hero Edward Rushton and since then the building has transformed and regenerated itself many times. Over the course of a century this building has housed the Merseyside Police, The Trades Union Centre, a recording studio and performance venue for the young and unemployed known as The Picket, and most recently, the Theatre Resource Centre. The building is a fascinating palimpsest of Liverpudlian social history and testament to the city’s reputation as the pioneering home of welfare.

There’s a palpable sense, wandering the corridors of the old school, that if you scratched away at the walls you’d find living history beneath. For locals, the Biennial has brought an old, abandoned building back to life: giving people an opportunity to return to the institutional and radical spaces of the Old Blind School where they once worked, campaigned, plotted, picketed and even performed.

As a life-long southerner and occasional Londoner, I didn’t expect to find I had any place within this architectonic narrative. Yet looking up from amongst Peter Wächtler’s ceramic sea creatures I discovered a mural. A mural which was not a part of the official Biennial programme but a piece of the fabric of the building itself, a fragment of the city’s past. Like the needle who stepped into the haystack to discover a lost connection with the social and political history of Liverpool, I found that I was a part of the crumbling walls and chipped paintwork after all. The mural was painted by a relative of mine in 1986.


My great uncle Mick Jones, son of the Garston-born Trade Union Leader Jack Jones, was a political illustrator and mural painter most famous for his work on the Dalston Peace Mural designed by Ray Walker. The mural in the dome of the Old Blind School commemorates the Peoples’ March for Jobs in Liverpool: it curls over the mint green balcony of the top floor with the rage and passion of 1980s political activism. The colours are vibrant and in wild, striking contrast to the polite neo-classical detailing of the rest of the building.

Edward Rushton, one of Liverpool’s great radicals, is depicted as the blind hopelessly leading the blind. There are towers of smoke billowing behind him, and the cranes and hooks which swing in and out of the warped mural seem to threaten to demolish the world around them, including the crumbling red brickwork of the Albert Docks. Beneath this post-industrial apocalypse the people march with their bright, rippling protest banners.

Marx lurks somewhere amongst the crowds along with a self-portrait of the artist himself, and recent family debates have also concluded that the fiery red-head leading the protest must be my great aunt. That statuesque red-head raises her arm to unleash a cry, the slogan on her t-shirt screaming out: ‘Give us a Future!’ This cry ripples across the painted surface of the domed mural, and by a kind of magical coincidence I suspect: the sonics of protest, dissent and disenchantment, echo across the city and the Biennial’s many venues.


Sound carries and it is the sounds of political and social unrest which offer one of the most interesting threads for navigating the haystack. Attune yourself to a sound-map of the Biennial and you’ll have found a satisfying way in.

For me, the best of the acoustic offerings was the exhibition devoted to Liverpool’s oral poet, musician and painter, Adrian Henri, at the Exhibition Research Centre. Here rare video and audio archive footage evoke the sounds of radical Liverpool in the 60s and 70s. Henri’s words come to us slowly across the music, at times coloured with romance and at others, barbed with politics. Listening to Henri’s experimental lyricism, the sounds of Liverpool and the chiming of the Liverpudlian accent, the Mersey Sound, become richly musical and even sensual. Henri was a wordsmith of great skill and craft. It’s when the Biennial taps into the Liverpudlian local and particular, when it picks up the melody of the city’s sounds and passes them back to the visitor: that the events reach rhapsodic peaks of brilliance. It’s then that they have our attention: that we’re all finally leaning to listen in.

I catch the beginning of a final parable as I’m leaving. I overhear two scousers swapping stories about going to Henri’s spoken word events in their own Mersey youth, their voices ricocheting against the looped recordings. There’s another two needles, entering the haystack.

So now the question is (or the moral of the parable): how can we preserve the mural? Rumour has it that the Hope Street Hotel has acquired the Old Blind School and plans to convert it into luxury apartments, but will there be space for the mural in this new development? If anyone has any interest in helping to preserve the mural, or any ideas of how to do so, please leave a comment below.

Liverpool Confidential believed the mural stole the show: You an read more about the unique Liverpudlian history of the Blind Schools on the Biennial website where they have opened up a forum for swapping stories and memories: Unite the Union has more detail about the historical figure of Edward Rushton and the history painted in the mural:


‘Most people collect something or other: stamps, butterflies, beetles, moths, dried and pressed wild flowers, old snuff-boxes, china dogs and so forth. A few eccentrics even collect disused bus tickets! But collectors of pebbles are rare.’ The Pebbles on the Beach, Clarence Ellis

Orford Ness 052

On Saturday I headed out to the Suffolk Coast on my first adventure for the wonderful online journal The Learned Pig. The Pig, with one interest for each of it’s legs, spans poetic subjects across art, thinking, nature and writing. My three trains to the (surely Saxon?!) Saxmundham, a single taxi to the Snape Maltings, a minibus to Orford, and then a ferry ride – all led me to Orford Ness for Anya Gallaccio SNAP commission as part of the Aldeburgh Festival. You can read my piece on Gallaccio’s installations and the enchanting, fragile ecology of surreal Orford Ness here, in the Story of a Single Rock.

Orford Ness 114

Here’s a little extract from the piece to tempt you:

‘Like many stories, this one begins with a rock, in fact one rock amongst many: the shifting shingle which geographically defines and continually redefines the salt marshes of Orford Ness. When contemporary artist Anya Gallaccio made her first trip to the shingle spit of the Ness, it was not the accidental sculptures of wire and curled sheet metal (rusted by salt-winds) which captured her imagination, but the stony beach desert on which they lie, abandoned like military driftwood.

When we arrive for SNAP on the National Trust ferry out to the Ness, our faces glittering with salt water spray, Gallaccio recalls the illicit exchange of a bag of shingle in Fortnum and Mason, miles away from the flat-lining whistle of the Suffolk coast. Back in the Snape Maltings a photograph records the forbidden transaction: a plastic bag of assorted rocks tied up with a paper label: “For Anya Gallaccio”.’

Orford Ness 118

The day involved the unlocking and discovery of stories from a whole host of interesting characters, both local and alien, so I hope to find a place for some of these moments elsewhere, and at another time. For now enjoy the accidental sculpture of some shingle and pulled up Yellow Horned Poppies:

Orford Ness 135

I recently wrote an essay to accompany Mark Melvin’s exhibition at Berlin gallerySherin Najjar, Forget to Remember.  If you’re interested in purchasing a copy please contact the gallery: or visit

catalogueAs with any artist’s work, you can approach Mark Melvin’s Forget to Remember with either anticipated familiarity or the fresh expectation of the unknown, but the exhibition’s reference to the amnesiac should already be viewed as a warning; a warning to those viewers who have seen Melvin’s 2011 exhibition, Remember to Forget, and have forgotten the original advice.

The experience of Forget to Remember after remembering to forget is akin to looking at somebody else in the mirror. We look at our own image every day with such blind faith: we take what we are given; but in seeing somebody else contained in the glass we understand that the picture reflected is always slightly distorted, that the symmetry is not quite right.

The works in Forget to Remember have been carefully selected and curated to echo the works included two years ago in Remember to Forget, recreating the ‘feeling’ of that exhibition: but the echo is never harmonious, it is distinctly jarring. The reflection has slipped slightly to show something only fractiously remembered and now newly realised.

For second time visitors the exhibition presents a déjà vu founded upon an accumulating sense of recognition and a growing uneasiness: a video piece swapped for another here; words removed from their contexts and replaced elsewhere; themes, energies and philosophies all shifted into new frames. The echoes are as subtle as the palindromic movement of the clock (Time Piece –bury your head in the sand or bury the sand in your head 2012), but they are nevertheless present. Melvin has very deliberately manufactured an experience of déjà vu for the viewer of Forget to Remember.

Where Melvin’s previous neon I’m never where I want to be, ever here I be (2009) was exhibited, there is a new neon gesturing towards the futility of aspiration, a ladder with six rungs disappearing into none: a metaphor for unachievable goals. Like train tracks disappearing into the darkness of a tunnel, words have been translated into the visual language of light but the story and sentiment remains essentially the same.

Edward Titchener described déjà vu as a ‘partial perception’, where the brain glimpses an object or situation before it has had time to fully ‘construct’ an understanding of the experience. Déjà vu is not a moment we have lived before, but one we struggled to comprehend at first glance. Inspired by Derrida’s idea of ‘différance’ and the continual deferral of meaning, this wouldn’t be the first time that Melvin has offered his viewers only a ‘partial perception’; locking them into a repetitive moment and deferring the final conclusion to an indefinite point in the future.

In Ravel/Unravel (decade) 2012, two versions of Melvin ravel and unravel a jumper to the music of a string quartet, performing déjà vu in a self-portrait which Melvin himself finds a little unnerving; over a period of ten years, he hardly seems to have aged at all.  Trapped in the revival of an obsessive action this feeling is only perpetuated.

Melvin describes Ravel/Unravel (decade) as acting as a “personal signature” to the exhibition. This affirmation offers a powerful insight into just how deeply personal the conceptual philosophy underlying Melvin’s work is. If Melvin throws his viewers into an endlessly repeating déjà vu it is partly because he can’t escape it himself. “My work feeds itself,” he says, noting that the titles of his paired exhibitions mark the clock face which oscillates between wilful forgetfulness and the loss of amnesia.  Melvin admits that he has essentially been “reiterating the same things” throughout his practice: themes, texts and philosophical preoccupations, are all woven thick into a contained corpus which loops back on itself.

The process of looping is not an expression of exasperation in the face of life’s inexplicable questions, but rather, a memorialisation of the essential and universal truth of these statements. If life is a journey it is not about where we get to, or as one of Melvin’s previous pieces puts it: ‘When we’re hoping for changes, we all stay the same’.

Melvin explains that “any text which is dealing with a past emotion or an impulse is doing the same thing: memorialising it and giving it status.  I think that in the reading of something or in watching a video you are going through the same process – you are also reading and trying to decipher, as well as looping back.”

Melvin’s two light-box stained glass windows, Vidimus 1 (exhibited here) and Vidimus 2 borrow from a religious language of memorialisation to commemorate two abstracted statements: ‘Fail Forever’ and ‘The More I Look Ahead, the More I See Behind’. This language of perpetual fallibility, which recognises the very real stasis of our everyday lives, has been stretched to abstraction so that, at first, the viewer experiences only the aesthetic pleasure of coloured shards of blue light. But as in a cathedral, contained within the revelation of their illumination, Melvin’s glass windows invoke us to a deeper reflection.

Vidimus, meaning ‘we saw it’ in Latin, refers to the design of a stained glass window which artists were required to make before it could be realised by a glass painter. This process seems redundant here, when Melvin has ignored all of the traditional rules of craft and had his windows machine-manufactured. Deprived of natural light, Melvin believes that Vidimus 1 and Vidimus 2 “highlight their own impotence, radiating their own synthetic light,” fulfilling their function by imitating only.

These stained-windows become circles of constant affirmation and negation – in medium and physical form, and in text and concept – they trap us in their spherical loop and force us to consider the shifting pendulum of life.

Elsewhere this loop is a penance which Melvin himself has had to perform.  In (the black and white) mirrors Melvin has etched words into the sprayed-out surface in his own hand; spending hours writing the same phrase over and over again, and stopping only arbitrarily to consider the aesthetic effect of this obsessive action. What may appear to us as merely the shimmer of a Prague skyline, has an enduring sense of labour and toil for Melvin.

The two mirrors bear the phrases: ‘stay with me I need support’ and ‘same old scene’. In the iteration of these sentences the emotional emphasis continually changes. Melvin is always toying with the implications of the words he uses. Whether they are meaningless pop lyrics or more personal statements buried and obscured within other texts: their resonance can vacillate wildly from the desperation of a total negation, to a careless apathy in the face of life’s mundanity.

Where Melvin’s work begins to expand the boundaries into a self-proclaimed “new territory” is with the six drawings shown for the first time in Forget to Remember.  We largely recognise Melvin for his neons, kinetic works and video pieces – his practice is firmly rooted in the conceptual – but these drawings, made in pen and ink and then rubbed out with an eraser, have a greater transparency.  Although reminiscent of the optometrist’s charts in form, the drawings are erratic and loosely drawn by hand. There is more vulnerability to be found here than in the self-assured wordplay of a neon or the manipulation of a video and this is where Melvin chooses to bury his truly personal statements.

“There is more of a therapy in drawing, and drawing is where it all started. Drawing is what I used to really enjoy and do when I was kid, what I was really obsessively doing when I was a child. Sometimes when you go through education this kind of falls by the wayside – you have these books of sketches but you never really think of them as much because they aren’t conceptual enough.”

In two of the drawings double layers of text are concealed in a game which challenges the value of the complementary phrases. The first reads: ‘I’m forever in a memory all about you and me, screaming out your name knowing you are there’, but hides, ‘I’m remembering you’re not here’. While the second pleads, ‘Please return to me and protect me from the rain’, but retreats with ‘pleasure and pain’. It is the closest Melvin will come to a confession.

Drawn in black, the other single-layered texts offer up “statements to be attacked”. Here, familiar lyrics which are filled with deep suggestion: ring hollow. The stability of these lyrical monuments is continually undercut; each drawing is accompanied by another, made up of left over chips of rubber from the process of erasure. These tangible remnants are the result of a physical assault made by Melvin but they point towards the conceptual disruption which resonates elsewhere too.

By borrowing “the language of a minute’s silence”, Forget to Remember’s kinetic piece, Half Life, asks us to reflect upon the cycles of life and death, and both our imitation, and resuscitation of mortal things. A single butterfly wing (taken from a solar-powered decoration) flutters under the stark illumination of a lamp on a morbid circle of black. But the butterfly wing also keeps a steady pulse: it continues improbably to mark time, to exist.

“I like the idea that looping soundtracks, or powering kinetic cycles, is kind of telling the time, (although they are just not letting you know the increments). Even though you are watching things move and you are not aware of time in the same way that if you are looking at your watch, they are still moving with you.”

Melvin has disrupted and distorted time, subverting the present moment into a repeating pattern of déjà vu.  But he has created a new time within the exhibition too: there are three pieces which work together to mark its passage; Time Piece which acts as a subtitle to the exhibition and offers a different cycle depending on whether you are inside or outside of the gallery, Half Life which keeps the pulse of the living and imitated, and the unravelling melodies of Ravel in Ravel/Unravel which seem hardly to succumb at all to the slow process of aging.

Forgetting to remember comes to signify our displacement from time as we know it. Our momentary existence within a new ‘time’: directed by Melvin and comprised of a series of philosophical concepts; locks us into a reflection upon the inexplicable, the existential and the mundane.

This is a copy of an article I originally wrote for the Hackney Citizen on the film-inspired exhibition, Still.

As the cold weather creeps upon us the Hackney Picturehouse and the Transition Gallery will be collaborating with the perfect antidote to the autumn gloom. Still, an exhibition inspired by ‘the moving magic of film’ and the ‘new reality’ which emerges when we halt this movement, will be taking place across the two venues from the 7 to the 30 September.

Mix art and film and you have the perfect visual comfort food. The relationship between these two mediums is entirely one of indulgence; a film director playing with the luxuries of light and the full spectrum of sensory effects comes closer to producing a work of art than a slick Hollywood blockbuster, and, as we find in Still, artists using film as inspiration find themselves falling prey to a consumptive obsessiveness, a hyperbolic fanaticism.

Nicola Woodham’s video ‘Neon Alone’ is perhaps the best example of the blurring of genre-boundaries between popular film and art. Woodham has taken a single frame from Richard Curtis’ Love Actually and transformed it into a purely aesthetic cypher with its languorous movement through cinematic light, silhouette, shadow and luminescent spotting.  This repeated frame is entirely estranged from its Rom-Com context; it’s lost that warm, all-pervasive Richard Curtis glow.

Although the exhibition does look critically at the relationship between art and film, it is also not afraid of pastiche or parody. Paul Kindersley’s larger than life disembodied heads are a queasily comic tribute to the sticky gore of horror.

In Cathy Lomax’s ‘Film Diary’, in which she paints a single freeze-framed scene from every film she watches, there is no sense of discrimination. Despite being intellectually and theoretically engaged with film in her studies, Lomax is just as likely to be caught borrowing from Twilight as she might from an obscure masterpiece such as Vincente Minnelli’s The Pirate.

The exhibition celebrates our cultural immersion in a cinematic reality; stories, dreams, the living out of fantasies which might begin to feel more real than everyday life. Jackie Chettur’s meticulously constructed sets in hotel rooms come to resemble ‘the backdrop to a film we think we may have seen.’

There is a strange sense of de ja vu which strikes the viewer. Scenes and faces borrowed from films seem familiar but often lie somewhere beyond the reach of recognition.

The exhibition is accompanied by a special issue of Transition’s Garageland magazine dedicated to film. Each of the artist’s included in Still have contributed to the issue; Paul Kindersley revels in horror’s lust for blood and ‘schlock tactics’, Alli Sharma wallows in her infatuation with the Kitchen Sink aesthetic of social realism, and Jackie Chettur reveals the secrets behind her hyper-realist film sets.

Garageland 14 is, at heart, a collection of adoring love letters to film. Images framed on glossy white paper are like screens in which we might catch movement or a narrative, its content page reads like rolling credits, interviews run like scripts, a thumbnail strip resembles a storyboard. This issue of the magazine is edited and produced with all the visible traces of film fanaticism.

Still is totally joyful and honest about its passion for film and it’s this which makes it the perfect visual comfort. It’s the exhibition equivalent of the cinema on a rainy afternoon or a large bucket of salted popcorn.

Tonight the new issue of Garageland launches with the exhibition, Still, at the Hackney Picturehous and the Transition Gallery. I wrote an article for this issue and here’s an unedited version of a rather long tribute to the simple charms of the cinema. Garageland’s Film Issue is incredible and a bit of a treasure trove for fans of cinema. It’s definitely worth buying a copy here; all of the artists included in the exhibition, Still, have also contributed. It’s my first time in print in an art magazine too, so I’m certainly looking forward to getting my hands on a copy.

  ‘Non ti fare fottere dalla nostalgia, dimenticaci tutti.’ Alfredo, Cinema Paradiso

When I think of the local cinema which I grew up with, The Vue, Harlow Town, Essex, I begin to worry that cinemas might be dying out. Here the itchy faux red velvet seats and sticky floors no longer seem worth the over-inflated prices. Unnecessary legions of staff have already been culled as ticket sales have merged with popcorn cashiers, and I have often arrived to bleak Saturday evening closures, the forecast of cinematic doom. In this empty cinema which no longer carries the luxury of its emptiness, sell-out showings are an increasingly impossible miracle.

If there is anything I would like my local cinema to aspire to, it is the warm, nostalgic glory of Toto’s Cinema Paradiso in the 1988 film directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. In a small village in Sicily it is the Cinema, the Cinema Paradiso, that is the soul and beating life force of the community. The cinema is a democracy in which all of society find a seat.

In the film there is an incidental love story which brings a man from down in the stalls into the upper circle, a triumph of cinema’s power to move. Young boys masturbate on the front rows, and the rich spit down from above in a perfectly comfortable mix of high and low culture. On one hot evening when the theatre reaches capacity and a swelling, angry crowd are locked outside, the projectionist, Alfredo, works a minor miracle. By screening the film on the side of an apartment everyone is able to watch from the piazza. The laughs and cheers of the masses echo across the public square.

Perhaps in the same way that audiences have become desensitised to violence on screen, we have gradually become more immune to the simple charms of the cinema. A film is a spectacle in itself and yet now if we are to be coaxed away from our freeview boxes and widescreen TVs we demand so much more.

We need more violence and more horror to make our blood pound. We need dirtier, wilder, harder sex to get us aroused. In Cinema Paradiso when a simple kiss slips past the censors a violent tremor of excitement spreads throughout the audience; the intimation is explicit enough for this crowd to feel a thrill. But it would never be enough for us.

Our disenchantment could be said to have inspired something of a revolution in cinematic experience. Any objections to such developments might just be another case of the hang-up of nostalgia. Our hardened senses force greater creativity and have made the conception of events such as Secret Cinema and the Jameson Cult Film Club possible.

In a surreal simulation of the film world colliding with the real, events like Secret Cinema and Jameson Cult Films, bring characters and sets to life in full-immersion screenings. These events are opportunities to see our favourite films in entirely new ways. Cinema is reinvigorated by the realisation of a fantasy; to momentarily live within the fictional worlds which have the greatest hold over our imaginations.

The summer’s disingenuous promise to hold off on the rain has led to a mix of outdoor cinema screenings across London on roof gardens and rooftop bars, in parks, in the neoclassical courtyard of Somerset House, and in venues which are exciting for the fantasy and atmosphere they promise to bring to a film: the Nomad Roaming Cinema will be screening The Shining in Brompton Cemetery, the thought makes me shiver with the pleasure of expectation.  It seems we just can’t enough of the subversive twist these new themed cinematic events add to our appreciation of film. I am still soul-searching for a Grease inspired Drive-Thru where I can be ‘Stranded at the Drive-In’ with a young John Travolta lookalike. Perhaps I have spotted a gap in the market there.

Yet my most vivid cinema memory is a showing of the worst film I have ever seen in a small town in Romania. Here, Orange Wednesdays had fulfilled their marketing prophecy and the entire population had turned up for the event. It didn’t seem to matter that the film was embarrassing or that there were no glasses to watch in 3D. There was an air of collusion about it; we all knew the film was terrible and were complicit in it.  Like the Cinema Paradiso, the Patria in Craiova was a hub of the community. Here was cinematic pleasure in its most basic and undiluted form.

Despite my temptation to get carried away with all these cinematic happenings, secret clubs which urge us to ‘Tell no one’ and rare events with exclusive price tags and sell-out tickets, I also believe that we shouldn’t allow ourselves to get distracted from the real cultural threat.

If you search ‘save our local cinema’ on Google, a wealth of revolutions from below will appear. Preserving these venues is about more than nostalgia and a fanaticism for architecture full of character and history. It’s also about holding on to the spirit of the community as areas change and are subject to development. There is nothing I’d like more than to find that the Vue in Harlow Town could conjure enough magic and atmosphere to warrant its ticket prices and fill its seats, a real event for once. That would be the true triumph of the underdog, that classic cinematic trope and a genuine feel-good ending.