Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Martin Battersby

Oedipus and the Sphinx, c1965
This oil-on-canvas hung for many years over the staircase in Brighton museum but has now disappeared, presumably into store. This is a pity since the painter, Martin Battersby, has  strong connections to Brighton, not only on account of residence at 36 Sussex Square 1964 -1973, but also the enthusiastic role he played with the then Pavilion curator John Morley in establishing the Museum's 20thC collection. The two travelled to France together and at relatively low cost built up the impressive collection of furniture and decorative items that is on display today.

Martin Battersby, collector, historian, designer, decorator and artist, played a crucial role through the 1960s and 1970s in promoting the reappraisal of Art Nouveau and the decorative art of the '20s and '30s. He was a gifted trompe-l'oeil artist with a particular fondness for the sphinx motif.  In 1959 he painted murals on this theme for the Sphinx Room of the Carlyle Hotel, New York and two years later showed paintings of sphinx subjects at the Arthur Jeffress Gallery, London.

While at 36 Sussex Square he lavishly furnished and decorated his flat in the art deco style and painted a magnificent mural of Brighton over the common staircase. He also opened his own 'Sphinx Studio' in Prince Albert Street, as a retail outlet for his silkscreen furnishing fabrics and papers.

 5 years ago 'Harlequin-Sphinx' fetched $4,630 at auction.

Kemp Town House Histories

A new website has recently been launched which aims to record the residential occupation of the Kemp Town Estate since its inception to 1970.

For each street you can find full lists of residents by house, by year and census reports of each house. Individual history articles are provided for many of the houses which, in view of the number of famous people the area has attracted over the years, make for fascinating reading.

It is a work in progress and contributions are welcome.

40 years ago

Take a 15 min tour of Brighton before the age of graffiti and street clutter. . . . .

Saturday, 30 January 2016

THE VOTE: Cllr Robert Nemeth on the King Alfred in Hove

Some interesting background on the King Alfred project and various other schemes.

Mentions also of the plastering, parking & Horsdean debacles.

Friday, 29 January 2016

The Clarence.

The Clarence in North Street is still looking much like it did 230 years ago when it was known as the New Inn. It is the only remaining example of the inns which once lined North Street. The frontage is of mathematical tiles, now painted. In 1811 it was extended westward over the coach entrance. The magistrates court was established here in 1808 and returned in 1821-23. In 1831 it was renamed in honour of William IV. It was Grade II listed in 1971 and closed as a hotel in 1972. In 1979 it re-opened as the headquarters of a building society.

It was restored c1990, when a Georgian Revival shop front was inserted on the left nicely balancing the coach entrance on the right. Unfortunately, this effect is vitiated by commercial festoons and the elegant entrance, the architectural highlight of the building, is bisected and obscured by the siting of the bus-stop.

The coaching entrance provides a little used passageway to the Lanes and still retains some features of the coaching era. It is surely ripe for some improvements concurrently with the Hannington Lane development.

Postscript: A Listed Building Enforcement Notice was served. 
"Expiry date 30/12/2015. Ground Floor Retail Unit, Clarence House, 30 - 31 North Street, Brighton, BN1 1EB 
Brighton & Hove City Council
1. Completely remove the 2no awnings attached to the front elevation of the building at ground floor level. 
2. Remove all exterior fixings, hooks and battening from the front elevation and make good to match the existing listed building."