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Tiny Art Gallery Still Open For Business

tinyhat201300001Brian & Georgina have been making unique, minimalist art for many years, and it has been widely exhibited. Tiny Art is their online gallery and shop. Brian created the famous Cartoon Factory graphics studio and art gallery in Islington in the 1990’s, and Georgina once worked for Saatchi & Saatchi, so the pair are no strangers to the art world.

Go here to visit Sowerby & Luff’s Tiny Art Gallery

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Brian and Georgina in Edinburgh

Sowerby and Luff meet a few colourful characters on the Royal Mile, including a puppet called Ivan and Jesus in a pin striped suit.

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The Harringay Arms – Creative Hub of Crouch End

harringay armsBrian Luff writes…

I first wandered into Crouch End’s famous Harringay Arms when I was a tech student at Mountview Theatre School. In those days the drama school was located just across the road, so it was a bit of a student hang-out.

That was over thirty years ago, and I’ve been popping in there for a pint ever since. So I’m probably one of its oldest punters.BandGharringayarms

About a year ago the Harringay Arms was taken over by new Aussie owners Ben and Anthony who say they fell in love with the place the first time they saw it.

The lads have definitely injected new life and energy – adding regular live music, a cool retro jukebox, and they’ve lined the walls with iconic old record sleeves and vintage collectable figurines.

gallery at the harringay armsIn the early days of our weekly podcast we wanted to give the programme an intimate, chatty feel – so we told the listeners we always recorded it in the Harringay Arms.

To help create this illusion we once spent an entire evening in the pub, with our digital recorder sitting on the table between us, recording endless stereo sound effect loops that we could play under our voices in the studio.

We referred to the place fondly as “The Gay Legs” – our sound engineer’s nickname for the pub since the early seventies. HarrinGAY Arms: Gay Legs. Get it? Lousy joke, but the name stuck with thousands of our regular listeners.

Eventually, I think Georgina and I actually began to believe that we really were in the pub during the podcast, and the warm, cosy atmosphere became very much a part of our brand.

We’ve now logged over 10 million podcast downloads via iTunes, and I’m certain the Gay Legs has had its part to play in that modest success.IMG_0678

As I write this article on my iPad, perched at the bar, the pub is being used as the hub of the Crouch End Festival – the old barrel storage room having been transformed into an amazing little gallery for local artists and craftsmen.

It would be great to see this inventive use of the space continue after the festival, maybe expanding the arts programme to include small scale performance events such as acoustic music nights, poetry or even open mike nights.

I’ve seen smaller comedy venues than this on the Edinburgh Free Fringe, and Crouch End is so strongly associated with the comedy business that an intimate “feeder venue” like this would fit right in with the local scene. In these tough economic times it’s always better to pack out a tiny venue than struggle to fill a large one.

Georgina and I run the regular comedy night Sketch Club over the road at the Kings Head, so we’d personally love to hire Ben & Anthony’s “annex” some to pilot ideas. Maybe we could actually record a regular podcast in there, with a live audience.

We’ve been lucky enough to meet up in the Gay Legs with dozens of podcast listeners from around the world who believe that a visit to London is not complete without a pilgrimage to the Harringay Arms in Crouch End to have a pint of Guinness.

Having had such a long history with the place, Georgina and I are thrilled to see that the Harringay Arms is now embracing the local arts and media scene with such enthusiasm, and we’d be excited to be a part of that in the future.

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A Poison Chalice at The Vatican

popeSo, we have a new supremo in Rome. Seventy six year old Jim Bowen look-alike Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina is now Pope Francis, and he managed to except the job without once mentioning The Falkland Islands.

Meanwhile, I can’t help noticing one or two strong parallels between what’s happening at the Vatican and what happened at the BBC in White City a few months ago.

There’s little doubt that BBC Director General Mark Thompson knew that a shit storm was about to hit Television Centre, and he managed to pack his bags and get out in the nick of time. It’s also clear that the BBC knew that whoever took over his role would take most of the Jimmy Savile flack square in the kisser, and would be gone within a few weeks.

So the Beeb appointed a DG who they knew was so hopeless they wouldn’t mind losing him. George Entwistle willingly took the job, made a complete twat of himself, then shuffled off into the sunset with a nice big early retirement pension.

Pope Benedict XVI was the first pontiff to quit since Gregory XII in 1415. So there has to be a damned good reason. Something’s not right. Benedict was witness in recent weeks to the most horrendous admissions and confessions in the higher echelons of the Catholic Church, and my guess is he saw something coming down the pipe that was even worse. Something we haven’t heard about yet. Something that might make the Savile case seem like a walk in the park. That’s assuming of course that the old Pope didn’t have a few skeletons of his own in the Papal cupboard.

Savile abused the young and vunerable for 50 years. Catholic priests have been doing it for two thousand years, and the cover-up strategy is rapidly coming apart at the seams. Even the most loyal and pious Catholics are showing signs of losing their faith and trust in the church, and there’s very little light at the end of the tunnel.

New Popes are chosen by the College of Cardinals, the Church’s most senior officials, who are usually ordained bishops. They’re summoned to the Vatican and a Papal election, or “Conclave”, takes place.  Like the BBC Trust, the Cardinals were probably looking for someone to ride out the storm for a while, then fall on his sword. That way, further down the line, they can appoint the candidate they really want to be Pontiff. Like maybe an Italian?

So, the old guard sat in the Sistine Chapel, beneath one of the world’s most homo-erotic ceilings, and chose a man willing to put the Poison Chalice to his lips, and lead the Catholic Church forward through one of the fiercest storms they’ve encountered since that big nasty one just after the Crucifixion.

Only last week, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the UK’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric, resigned as head of the Scottish Catholic church, after being accused of “inappropriate acts”. When interviewed, many of his close congregation said they were “surprised”. I wasn’t, and I don’t think anybody else in the world was. Because sadly, confessions of sexual abuse by priests have now become so commonplace they are fast becoming the norm.

How many more high ranking bishops, archbishops and cardinals are going to be humiliated, stripped of office and marched out of the doors of their cathedrals, as the full scale of sexual abuse in the church is revealed? And just how far up the organisation does it go? I think we can guess.

At least Pope Francis gave us a nice big smile while he was making his inaugural speech. I suspect it was probably because he knew something we don’t.

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I Just Wanna Be Jools – Brian Luff

jools2Eat your heart out Jools Holland – it’s the latest e-Single recorded by Brian Luff and his amazing Rhythm & Blues Orchestra.