JANUARY TO MARCH 2014

During his exhibition Graham Patterson did a great workshop with these results

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And added more and more pieces to his show as the weeks went past and the tide on Spital Beach kept up its eternal whisperings

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Priscilla Eckhard’s charming image came into its own on invitations to Priscilla’s birthday tea party to close the show as she so sadly missed the Preview

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and at which cake and wine and good friends celebrated Priscilla’s return to health

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It’s OK, the cigarette is of the E variety

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How we miss that exquisitely painted bucket!

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Roddy, Karin and their perfect granddaughter brought a Christmas present for Pip -

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. . . which he loved so much that he ate almost all of it including the ball. . .

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Pip suffers from delusions of smallness and thinks that he still fits on this cushion

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But he doesn’t

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Artist David Baird and pianist Mark Dickinson brought some surprising images for the next show which included Bob Dylan, the current Kate, the young Ian Stephenson and Mark’s son

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Rina Richardson whose stunning photographs are currently hanging in Watchtower foyer and Eric Richardson whose paintings will impress us all in early 2014

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Rina’s beautiful snow scene reflecting the Watchtower staircase!

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On the day David’s and Rina’s shows opened Bob Dylan was spotlighted by a passing rainbow

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Master Dickinson and very like: the artist is his grandfather

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After all of this excitement my laptop went into freefall and tried to turn into one of Ian’s paintings

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The concert in aid of the Mayor’s charities was even better than we had dared hope for. Local talents Summerland and Kirsty Jamieson of She accompanied by Mark Dickinson played and sang together in heart stopping style and nobody went home before midnight.

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Mayor Isabel Hunter and Mace Bearer Joyce Benton were as efficient at the Bar and selling raffle tickets as they are when carrying out their Civic Duties

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Mark Reid, always welcome at the Watchtower, played solo guitar and sang both old and new songs from his repertoire

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And Mark Dickinson, beneath his portrait, played brilliantly in his usual extraordinary virtuoso style

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The first of March, which I like to claim as the First Day of Spring, brought the first daffodils . . .

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. . . and also the last week in which the team which has for the last few years recorded the choicest parts of the Berwick Advertiser for the visually impaired, first at The Old School Duddo and latterly at the Watchtower, has “gone digital” and moved on to a smaller space! No more green packets in my mailbox cheerfully delivered by my postman and laboriously sorted by Jim Turner over coffee and dialogues about rugby and the state of the world. All sadly missed but I do have my turret office back to make up for their disappearance.

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Sound experts Ian Ballantyne and Mark Inglis continue to labour in the Recording Studio with results building up all the time. A satisfactorily developing scene at the Watchtower and always a pleasure to have them coming and going.

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Deborah Chandler, looking beautiful and playing beautifully as always, treated us to Bach, Walton and Tavener.

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A fascinated crowd filled the Gallery for this special treat.

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Come back soon please Deborah. x

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OCTOBER TO DECEMBER 2013

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In August the great Flodden remembering came to an end and the Mayor of Berwick flew the flag of Berwick above Flodden Field. A memorable day when the descendants of the great families who fought and won or lost all those years ago sat on the platform looking most probably much like their ancestors. And so the summer ended, a summer with much sunshine and many outdoor pursuits.

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On the river the young swans grew bigger and dabbled in the Tweed under the eyes of their parents.
And the Film Festival came back but sadly rejected the film made by Stuart Hardie and Lee Mace who went ahead anyway and provided an excellent Fringe performance, well attended, close to the Gymnasium Gallery car park.

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In early October a Preview of a film about the fate of young Palestinians caught by [not much older than them] Israeli soldiers was heart rending on both groups’ accounts and gave us much food for thought.

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And suddenly it was a whole year since the last Open Exhibition. Elaine Housby and David Blake helped to receive the paintings: the scene became rather more hectic later than it looks in this photograph!

The following day the Civic Society came for a formal presentation of a Civic Award celebrating the development of the Watchtower. Inspired builder Michael Richardson, architect Barbara Swan and friend, mentor, calligrapher, artist and humourist Arthur Wood joined in the celebration.

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Later in October Helen Little, Tate Gallery Curator, came to see the Stephenson paintings and to admire the huge range of local talent in the Open Exhibition. We walked the walls and gazed at the River Tweed and she went back to London the following day enchanted by Berwick.

On Friday the first of November we held not one but two concerts. In the morning the harp arrived via the Yardheads and the back fire door and Pip posed proudly in front of it. He sat quietly with me on the sofa and listened to the whole recital.

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And in the evening we came at last to the longed for Adrian Cox concert.
Summerland played us in with their usual style and charm. They were already on stage and performing when Adrian and his players finally escaped from the A1 and a long and tedious journey north. The Quartet appeared off the Yardheads and entered at stage right through the fire door straight into the gallery beside the stage but nothing phases Summerland: they greeted them then went on playing!

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Kirsty Jamieson and Poppy added glamour and star quality to the impeccable performance of the Adrian Cox Quartet.
A stunning evening which went right on till midnight!

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Wild flowers gathered from the river side decorated the tables.

All through these diverse events the second Open Show at the Watchtower shone down from the walls, as exciting as last year and generally, in my view, setting a higher level of talent from the local community even than last year.

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and Arthur Wood’s wonderful polyhedron circulated wisely throughout the show.

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Pat Oldale organised an excellent concert in aid of the Meningitis Trust with entertainment from The Border Tarts, Malcolm Bennett, Andy and Margaret Watchorn, Martin Hudson, and the Podlies

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Remembrance Sunday was cold and bright and a busy day for the Civic Party which attended six separate services ending at Ord where the long shadows and quiet atmosphere seemed the most appropriate one of all in some ways.

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The show of work by Peter Podmore accompanied by the wonderful array of pastels originally invented by the late John Hersey for his own use and the production of which is now a family business selling worldwide gave us a month of rich colour and distinguished painting to take us all the way to the start of the Festive Season

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The Meadowsweet I have watched from my bedroom all year has finally become a shadow of its former self, more like a drawing than a wild plant.

 

The gallery became a photographer’s studio for a day; and David Blake took images of the Stephenson screen for a coming exhibition in Vienna.

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The mighty Tweed came washing up towards the Watchtower to reflect the Christmas lights on the New Bridge.

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Another excellent concert organised by Nigel Chandler filled the Gallery despite the amount of water flowing about Tweedmouth.

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During this time Nelson Mandela died and an unbelievable fifty years had passed since the assassination of John F Kennedy. RIP

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I went to London, happy in the knowledge that I would be coming back to the Watchtower in due course, swapping one river for another. And saw my grandson, now taller than when he officially opened the building over fifteen months ago.

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Now we start a New Year with an exhibition of work by Graham Patterson and Priscilla Eckhart opening on Saturday 18 January and continuing until Friday 14 February 2014. I look forward to seeing you all during that time. Yours Kate

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Not one, not two, but three events almost upon us:

As well as the Adrian Cox Quartet we have the following two concerts:

 

 Friday 1 November 1.00 – 2.00 pm

An hour of classical music by friends of Nigel Chandler one of whom is Roberta Burn, a talented local harpist,. and student of the Purcell School.

We have not had the pleasure of hearing a harp played in the Watchtower yet – another first to be savoured.

Admission free but donations welcome!

 

Saturday 9 November 7.30 pm

Border Tarts and Friends In Concert [Andy and Margaret Watchorn, Podlies, Martin Hudson]

Inspired by Martin Hudson’s Cycle ride from London to Land’s End to raise funds for Meningitis Trust to which all proceeds will be donated.

A very worthy cause, as all parents of young children would agree. Pay at the door £7

 

SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE WITH THESE THREE CONCERTS!       WILL ANYONE HAVE THE STAMINA TO DO ALL THREE . . . .

I WILL, BUT THEN I LIVE HERE!        YOURS KATE

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Adrian Cox Quartet

Adrian Cox Quartet

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After 15 years of touring the world with various artists, Adrian Cox has now formed his quartet playing a high class , high energy mix of Jazz and Swing . Adrian (clarinet/sax) plays with the drive and passion of such players as Benny Goodman, George Lewis, Cannonball Adderley,Earl Bostics… The band includes and features the UK’s finest. Nils Solberg (gt) George Trebar (db) Mez Clough (drm) With a new album being released within the next 2 months , come and catch them at a venue soon.

And you can do just that in Berwick upon Tweed by coming to the Watchtower in Tweedmouth on Friday 1 November 7.30 until you drop!  £6 entry at the door.  BAR.   And for good measure: Summerland, Le Woodsmen, Kirstie Jameson and Poppy

Be Here!

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July to September

We have now completed a whole year of exhibitions at the Watchtower and have already started a new year.

In July we welcomed back the Berwick Art Group who now seem like old friends. Well attended as always, the show was varied and fascinating. We have dates for next year already pencilled in!

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The Lindisfarne exhibition to mark the presence of the Lindisfarne Gospels in Durham was everything I had hoped for. Exhibits ranged from a proggy mat replica of one of the Cross Carpet pages from the Gospels to four large images of the Four Evangelists entirely made from seeds, beans and lentils. They had a convincing appearance of ancient embroideries. Arthur Wood made a stunning banner which was hung on the front of the Watchtower and could be clearly seen from Berwick. He also lent to us his prize winning example of calligraphy which was much praised and exhibited in the British Library in London. Incorporated into this exhibition were the sculptures of the late Geoff Woodcock who had prepared this show for later in the year but sadly died very suddenly. With the agreement of his family we decided that this would make a loving memorial for him but he is much missed. It was a great privilege to have Treeo, which was exhibited in the Open Exhibition last year, back in the gallery. The piece de resistance was the massive tree trunk which Geoff had embellished with his carving and which exactly fitted into the path to the front door of the gallery.
The Mayor of Berwick, Isabel Hunter, graciously opened the exhibition and it was well attended throughout August.

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To celebrate our first anniversary my son Steve has brought a group of works titled Decomposition by himself and his friends in London to the Watchtower. He writes: Composition: the act of putting together or making up by combining parts or ingredients. Decomposition: to break up or separate into constituent parts. Making leads to unmaking, living leads to dying.” The exhibition contains some stunning images, provocative but beautiful and never without food for thought. It is at the Watchtower until Wednesday 2 October. Not to be missed.

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While all this was happening summer came to Berwick – the first proper one for three years!
The river twinkled and the corn grew golden. The pallid faces of the winter also turned golden and people began to look healthy and happy. Tourists filled the town and amazing summer puddings appeared at Civic receptions . . .

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Cow parsley blossomed outside my bedroom window. I met a chameleon and the Mayor sported a beautiful snake. Spectacular sunrises woke me at 5.00 a.m.

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Arthur’s banner had to come down. A London Routemaster bus came to Spittal.

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The Battle of Flodden was gloriously but thoughtfully remembered. Coldstream Guards and four hundred horses passed through Coldstream and solemn traditions followed at Flodden Field itself.

A beautiful family of swans enjoyed the sunshine at low tide on the Tweed and Pip the Bedlington Terrier eyed up the competition in the gallery.

My best friend stayed with me for a month and we visited Durham to see the Lindisfarne Gospels and the glorious Cathedral.

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I met a Peregrine Falcon, and watched She perform, who practise at the Watchtower, together with sound engineer Ian Ballantyne, another Watchtower professional, all celebrating at Prior Park Residents Fun Day in brilliant sunshine.

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And a taste of things to come: painter Peter Podmore in his studio coming to the Watchtower soon.

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A memorable summer turning into a glorious autumn : beautiful Berwick.

Yours Kate

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January to June

HOW CAN NEARLY HALF A YEAR GO PAST WITHOUT, IT SEEMS, NO TIME TO RETURN TO THE WEBSITE?  TO THOSE WHO HAVE COMPLAINED ABOUT THIS, I CAN ONLY SAY SORRY.  BUT IT HAS BEEN A HECTIC THOUGH FABULOUS 2013 SO FAR.

Let us remember!

In January we were regaled by Cara Lockhart Smith’s charming evocative paintings together with some recollections of her illustration work.

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Arthur Wood filled the foyer and the staircase with the most beautiful examples of calligraphy one could wish for and has gone on and on amazing us with his ideas and enthusiasm.

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Grahame Tebbutt moved and inspired us with his visions of history from medieval times to the present.  His knights in armour, many of whom must have ridden over the very soil on which the Watchtower is built, never fail to engage me.

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. . . and Arthur Wood stayed with us for another month by popular demand!   [see below]

In February we were privileged to have Paul Kenny’s extraordinary images at the Watchtower. . . . .

He wrote: The work, building on themes developed over thirty-five years, tries to find the awe-inspiring in that which is easily passed by. It contains issues of fragility, beauty and transience in the landscape: marks and scars left by man and the potential threat to the few remaining areas of wilderness. Looking at the micro and thinking about the macro, I aim for each print to be a beautiful, irresistible, thought provoking object.

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Sea Metal  [one of my favourites]

And a fascinating group show all the way from the south coast: paintings, beautiful hand printed cloths, pots and brooches and all manner of delightful objects and cards produced for and on sale in their shop Made in Hastings

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In March the landscapes of Paul Stangroom drew much attention.

He wrote: I walked The Pennine Way when I was 16 and it was evident then of the changes in the upland farms as quite a few of the places were abandoned. I realised how tough it must have been and indeed still is to live and work in such remote and often harsh landscapes. The settings are often spectacular and there is a particular beauty in the wide open moorland but it would be a mistake to romanticise living in these places.

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AND also in March         Jonathan Lloyd/Rolling Structures

Three painters and a potter who share a deep-seated interest in the history of their craft and a desire to extend its ancient approaches into the contemporary age

Jonathan Lloyd, Simon Jowitt, Matthew Howard and Doug Fitch brought a welcome burst of colour during the dark spring.

[We laughed a lot during the hanging of the paintings and the display of the glorious pots . . .]

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And Jonathan did an excellent talk about woodcut printing to a fascinated audience

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In April, Arthur Wood’s entry to the Calligraphy and Lettering Arts Society exhibition at the British Library was awarded a certificate for the most creative entry.  It is entitled The Pilgrim Guide and was displayed at the Watchtower on 14 April when Arthur brilliantly described the design process.

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May brought some sunshine but still the air was cold.  It also brought the work of James Page and A Scott Robertson and, for good measure, the set of the Stations of the Cross which was displayed around Berwick over Easter

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James Page, and his very popular Ark, wearing his shoes-to-match. The gentle animal sounds emitting from the Ark gave the Gallery a bucolic air not usually experienced in Berwick.  His mysterious and beautifully painted canvases were the source of much conversation during the month of the show.

Scott’s subtle views of Berwick were hugely popular and Scott himself made a big contribution to the running of the Gallery during his show.  Many people had the pleasure of meeting him and talking about the art and he deservedly sold an impressive number of his paintings and prints.

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Suddenly it is summer. The market at Berwick buzzing and the Hopper Bus hopping all over the place and the beautiful fruit stall laden with soft fruit!

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Les McLean and his wife were the first of our artists to use the newly constructed slope at the end of the Yardheads to gain access to my west door at gallery level.

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The only downside was that fewer people came to the Opening of this excellent group of three artists, all being off to the sun and rightly so. That gave us all time for more real talk about the paintings and photographs and for me to talk to Marcus Price and Bill Feaver about old times in Newcastle.  (Very old times . . .)

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Andy Watchorn’s oil paintings, which include one from the seventies which he had sat and discussed with Ian Stephenson when Andy was a student at Winchester Art School, are dark and rich while the smaller works on paper gleam like embers or jewels in a cave.

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William Feaver’s paintings draw one in to the lush greens of the sweeping hills and capture all the grandeur of the northern landscapes despite their relatively small scale.

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Les McLean’s portraits of ageing fighters are deeply moving: is there any way to gain freedom without fighting?  The young girl speaks with hope but the faces of the older women reflect the reality.

And Flint settles in peacefully as usual!

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AND THAT IS HOW IT HAS BEEN – EXCITING, WONDERFUL ART BY ALL, AND PROMISES OF MORE TO COME.

BUT OTHER EVENTS HAVE BEEN INTERLACED WITH THE EXHIBITIONS.

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In January Nick Clegg came to tea with the Liberal Democrats and spent some time studying the Ian Stephenson catalogue I gave to him before disappearing into a snowstorm. He liked the Watchtower and the view but probably not the weather . . .

Also in January and February The Mowbrays from Glasgow came to record in the sound studio and took the time to look at the paintings

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In February, Summerland came to work in the Sound Studio and will be playing at the T J Johnson concert on Friday 14 June here at The Watchtower – pictures later!

In March Nigel Chandler organised the second lunchtime recital and a large audience was treated to a programme of Mozart and Kodaly.

Andrew Ayre held a Silent Auction  for the Sailing Club and the Contemporary Art Society brought a party of members to see the Gallery and to talk about the Ian Stephenson paintings.

In April Jonathan Lloyd sent his work off to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition via an RA scheduled van collecting in Morrissons’ car park!

And my over-the-road neighbour, who is re-opening the pretty Art Deco building opposite, tells me that The Thatch pub is also to be re-opened.  Beautiful Tweedmouth indeed!

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In April too, the Trail Cards, invented by Michael Richardson, designed by Cara Lockhart Smith and backed by the Town Team, arrived in big fat bundles and, set out, looked like a ray of sunshine in a cold spring.

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And it was in April that Pip the Bedlington Terrier came into the life of the Watchtower (well, one quarter of him, technically being shared on a foursome basis). And he thinks “How much do I have to eat to get that big?”  You don’t Pip, that is a Labradoodle.”

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In May the Town Team was launched at the Watchtower with a great gathering of people willing to listen and to respond to the plans and intentions which will make Berwick recognise and implement the great future which is open to it. It was such a good meeting that, when everyone eventually left, we realised we had not given out the bundles of Trail cards which had been the basic purpose of the meeting in the first place.

Scocha came to the Recording Studio for a day: I love their sound and who knows, perhaps one day at the Watchtower!?  (They really do drink Irn Bru . . .)

And Jonathan Lloyd had his work accepted for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in London.

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Most of you will know by now that MT is Sheriff of Berwick for this year.  He paid me the huge compliment of inviting me to be Sheriff’s Lady.  I am honoured to be a tiny speck in the history of Berwick upon Tweed. Importantly, Michael brings to this ancient role clarity of thinking and planning which will do much to promote and support all the amazing things which Berwick is on the verge of achieving. Together with the Mayor Isobel Hunter and her Consort Forbes Grant we have already survived a fairground ride at the May Fair, ridden the new Hopper bus on a tour of Berwick and sailed up the mighty Tweed to Paxton House in a fleet of four boats which will take tourists and locals alike on this wonderful journey.

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But most importantly, the impressive history of these Offices brings a dignity to Berwick which no amount of money could buy. Be deeply proud of them. Never lose them. They are not about personalites. Like the Monarchy, they are part of our extraordinary British history and the envy of other nations.

All of which hopefully explains why I have taken until now to write it all down – I will talk about June soon!

And about future plans of which I am thinking.

berwick 013Yours Kate

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The First Six Months

We have had happenings ever since 8 September 2012 and now six months later I am going to recap and then move forward.

On 7 September 2012 at 5.00 pm my excellent builders swept up for the last time and on Saturday 8 September we opened the Watchtower Gallery.

[Well, actually, on 22 August my then 7 years old grandson Stanley asked if he could officially open it as he would be back at school in London on 8 September.  He cut a red cellophane ribbon and made a rather formal speech and it was done.]

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Continue reading

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Happy New Year

A New Year and not one but three new shows.
Come to the first opening of 2013 to see work by:
CARA LOCKHART SMITH
GRAHAME TEBBUTT
ARTHUR WOOD
Saturday 19 January from: 2 – 5 pm
Thereafter the Gallery is open from: 12 to 4 pm
Thursdays Fridays Saturdays Sundays

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One more time from the top . . . I got the photos on but the titles did their own thing! Separately. And I said that the current exhibition is Yvonne and Brita when of course it is now Isobel Davy and Tessa Bennitt and will be until 11 January 2013. Apologies all round: I will get better! Kate

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Currently showing: Isobel Davy and Tessa Bennett

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