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Andrea from Teddy Tinker’s is gathering a collection of Dickens-alia for the window display

Andrea from Teddy Tinker’s is gathering a collection of Dickens-alia for the window display

What the Dickens is going on in St Leonards?

With St Leonards #ATownExploresABook18 festival opening on Good Friday, many of the twenty five local businesses involved are putting the final touches to their projects. HOT’s Erica Smith caught up with a few of the impressive explorations of Dickens’ Great Expectations taking place.

Teddy Tinker’s, at 134 London Road, are conjuring Dickens’ world of 1860/61 as he writes Great Expectations for weekly serialisation, with a fascinating array of paraphernalia including playbills, bellows, a barometer, china, photos and more for visitors to explore. Miss Havisham is also very happily esconced in this treasure trove of an antiques and vintage store.

Vintage shop, Elegant Chaos, in Kings Road is focusing on the most flamboyant character in the novel,  with Kelvin and Teresa playfully selecting vintage items to display what character Estella might own in her life of elegant chaos.  Kelvin reflects, “Great Expectations always seems to have been in my life.  The Lean film was often on the television.  I hated Estella and was a Magwitch fan.  So it’s fun in this project to build a relationship with the glam girl.”


Paisley and Friends have free postcards championing Biddy to give away.

Paisley and Friends, also in Kings Road, have chosen to explore a quieter character.  Claire Paisley explains, “I’ve been exploring Biddy and she’s quite a gal. I’ve decided that if Great Expectations was set in the modern day, Biddy would have taken over the forge, become an artisan blacksmith, lecturing in art colleges across the land and quite possibly winning the Woman’s Hour Craft Prize. I found most descriptions of her in the book along the lines of Biddy, sitting by the fire sewing… set down her needlework… picked up her needlework etc, so she was obviously a great seamstress, however given a more equal society I reckon she’d have loved nothing more than whacking some hot metal into shape! And all Pip’s remarks about her lack of beauty? Pip, honestly, you have a lot to learn!”  Good job Great Expectations is a bildungsroman novel.

Other businesses such as Pelham’s Fine Furniture and Ceramics in Kings Road are running with a theme. Ceramicist Liz Emtage has started work on a specific new lighting piece responding to the theme of fire in Dickens’ masterpiece.  “The forge fire at the beginning of the novel is mirrored by Miss Havisham’s blazing demise near the conclusion. It’s so dramatic!”

All these businesses are featured in the Window Displays or Antiques and Vintage section of the festival what’s on guide.

The Wine Shed have teamed up with LiTFest, whose festival runs from 31 August to 2 September, to offer an evening of exploration and reflection on lines from Great Expectations serving as a springboard for creative writing on 4 April. One of many Write in a Café experiences comprising the festival, The Wine Shed are also showing Lean’s 1946 adaptation of Great Expectations on Saturday 8 April at 3pm after a lunch serving themed on the novel.  In addition, free wine tasting is on offer, themed on characters in the novel, on Good Friday and Easter Saturday, 1–3pm. To book any of these events, ring The Wine Shed on 01424 420020.

Even shops for dogs are getting involved. Seaside Paws are preparing a window display inspired by the fantastic lie hero Pip tells to his family when he returns home from his first visit to Miss Havisham’s. Instead of telling them about the spiders and mice, he invents an imaginary opulent world including four dogs who fight over veal cutlets served on silver platters. Who wouldn’t?

00ateabWholeFlyerThe #ATownExploresABook18 festival runs for two weeks over the Easter holiday and offers myriad lively experiences from local businesses, community groups and theatre company ExploreTheArch all over town. Prepare for the thoughtful and profound, the exuberant and the delightfully bonkers.

Posted 18:02 Wednesday, Mar 21, 2018 In: Public Arts

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