Arts Festival builds to climax

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Engraved razor blade by Graham Short

This weekend sees the finale of the 45th annual Rye Arts Festival. For two weeks since September 17 the town has been entertained by a huge variety of artistes of the highest quality from around all around the world.
And on Friday, September 30 and Saturday, October 1 the two themes of variety and world-class artistic entertainment continue.

Graham Short - engraver extraordiaire
Graham Short – engraver extraordinaire

At 3pm on Friday a crowd will gather in the Rye Museum in East Street to listen to and see photos of the work of a driven man who takes the most extraordinary steps to do his art. Welcome to the somewhat strange world of Graham Short, micro-engraver extraordinaire! Graham will explain how and indeed why he has engraved the Queen’s bust on a speck of gold. He’ll give us the lowdown on the genesis of an idea and then the creation of the Last Supper on the edge of a razor blade – including Jesus and all the disciples in the micro tableau!

To achieve these miniature feats he takes a positively Olympic athlete approach. Although he has a low heart rate that would rival Bradley Wiggins’ he bigs up on beta blockers so he can get it down to 20 beats a minute, allowing him time to make his marks between the potentially catastrophic movements of his heart. To help combat the dangers of being a living, moving body, he also straps his arm down with leather belts. He regularly injects his face with Botox so he has no facial tics that could spell disaster. And he works in the night to avoid the movement of traffic in the street.

Graham Short has to be seen to be believed.

Martin Parr
Martin Parr
Rory McLeod
Rory McLeod and Familiar Strangers

At 6:30pm there is a talk by the Magnum photographer Martin Parr in the Rye Creative Centre. Martin’s subject matter might be described as the banal, mundane lives of very ordinary people in Britain. But of course they aren’t. The Great British public is quite extraordinary and Martin’s chosen world is highly compelling.

Friday evening ends with a gig at the Rye Creative Centre that shouldn’t be missed. Rory McLeod and the Familiar Strangers are ostensibly a folk band, but they are much more than that as their influences range from klezmer music of Eastern Europe to the sounds of the Andes, via the Philippines and Africa. In the first half Rory is on his own, as he is a noted multi-instrumentalist and story teller in the troubadour tradition. After the break he is joined by the rest of the band which includes a Colombian harpist – quite possibly the very first time this instrument will have been heard in Rye.

Lauren Libaw
Lauren Libaw
Dingle Yandell
Dingle Yandell

The final event is on Saturday October 1 when the Euphonia Opera Company return to Rye to perform Don Pasquale at the Rye Creative Centre. The very talented young singers at the start of their careers, are once again under the artistic and musical director, Alisdair Kitchen. The audience will be entertained by Dingle Yandell as the eponymous Don, the superb young American soprano Lauren Libaw and a cast, all of whom are potential stars of the major opera houses in the making. With tickets at just £15 this is an ideal way to get a taste of just how fun and accessible opera can be.

More information is available from the Box Office on 01797 224442 or check out www.ryeartsfestival.co.uk. The Box Office is open for personal bookings at Phillips & Stubbs in Cinque Ports St, Rye, from 9:30am to 1pm on Saturday – otherwise you can book tickets online from the website or on the door.

Photos: courtesy RAF

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