Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Works @ Marske Mill Lane

Over the past year Saltburn Community and Arts Association (SCAA) has organised three public meetings to consider what should happen to the buildings and grounds formerly occupied by the Junior School which moved to the new campus in the summer of 2009.
In the spring of this year Redcar and Cleveland Council announced that along with a number of other assets the former school was to be disposed of. SCAA were aware that redundant assets of the council could be secured for community benefit by Community Asset Transfer (CAT).

Saltburn's old Junior School Marske Mill Base
For three months this summer a group of volunteers co-ordinated by SCAA has been working on a proposal for a CAT covering the school buildings and grounds. The group has been contacted by almost forty groups and individuals who wish to use the former school as part community or business activities.

From this work a big idea has emerged, to build on the impressive levels of creative activity which already exists in Saltburn and the surrounding area under the title of The Works @ Marske Mill. Provision will include:

· Studio and exhibition space along with specialist resources to support a wide range of  art and creative activity.
· Space for drama and music rehearsal and performance.
· Provision of an accessible local archive.
· Space for sport and outdoor activities including junior football and a skatepark.
· An enhancement of tourism through the establishment of a holiday hostel and campsite and support to environmentally friendly transport.

As this document is being prepared we are looking forward to the next public meeting. This is to be held at 6.00pm on Friday, 28th October in the Community Hall at SCAA Albion Terrace, Saltburn.

To learn more about these exiting proposals please visit the website at or contact SCAA on 01287 624997.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pageant of Light, ‘Back to Basics’

The ‘Pageant of Light’ has become a firm fixture in Saltburn’s annual calendar, drawing crowds of up to two thousand people and has a warm, local, family atmosphere. It takes place on the day that British Summer Time ends and seems to strike a real chord with everyone. We celebrate the passing of the seasons and prepare to enter the dark days of winter in a blaze of fire and light.

The Pageant of Light

Last year’s pageant ‘Peter Pan’ was possibly the most ambitious yet and with the biggest budget. As most people know, this past year has been very difficult for the Woodland Centre and for the ‘Friends of the Valley’ who create the pageant. Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council has had to make huge budget cuts in every department. We have expended a lot of energy in campaigning to keep the centre open and keeping going with our core activities of conservation and maintenance. People have been asking us what is happening about the pageant this year. Normally by now we are well on track with obtaining funding and with our planning. We are reluctant to let our pageant go completely but this year there is no way we can put on a real ‘spectacle’ with a fire sculpture, an image on the train and all the trimmings.
Hopefully next year we may be able to do it in real style once again. Meanwhile...

The Wings of Delight – Your Pageant of Light! Sunday 30th October from 5.30pm
This year the Pageant of Light is YOU! We need the people of Saltburn to make the Procession of Light their own, by creating, making, carrying their own illuminations. They can be torches, glow sticks, lanterns, fairy lights, costumes, wings and decorations on a theme of Bees and Butterflies…
The theme is to highlight the work that has been carried out by the Friends of the Valley who have planted a Butterfly Banquet and Bumble Bee Bistro near the Woodland Centre.
So if you feel inspired or you are wondering what you could do, get yourselves down to the Woodland Centre during half term week - 24th to 29th October (details will be posted outside the Woodland Centre). It will be a hive of activity with ideas for costume, lanterns, and musical instruments for the procession.
Bee there or be a butterfly!
You can contact us by email or through the website:

It's 'Play Bach' Time

When I was aged 47 I set myself the unusual challenge of being able to play Bach’s famous ‘48’ in one day before I became 49. I’m no concert pianist so the challenge meant ‘to be familiar enough or fluent enough’ to be able to play through them all in one day, not necessarily to be able to perform them to any concert standard. This month I’m 56, but since I achieved that eight years ago, I have played very little else. I still try to play every day but sometimes the demands of editing, financing, organizing, distributing and heart-aching over Talk of the Town interferes with that. Producing the magazine is a very great burden for one person to carry and it takes its toll not just on my physical and mental health but on my finances. Playing the piano helps to keep me sane but doesn’t pay the bills.

On Thursday, 5th November, Saturday afternoon from 1.00 to 6.00pm in Saltburn’s Community Theatre I shall be performing Bach’s ‘48’ in public. To play through the whole collection would take me eight hours so I intend to play the whole of Book 1 followed by highlights of Book 2. I’d better explain what Bach’s ‘48’ is. It is a collection of 48 preludes and fugues (96 pieces overall) and is also known as ‘The Well Tempered Clavier’. This refers not to it being in a good mood, but the fact that it is written for a keyboard which has been tuned in the modern way as opposed to the traditional or natural way. If you look at the black and white keys of a piano you can see that the black keys are in between the white keys. The ‘white’ notes C and D for example have a ‘black’ note in between them and this is either C sharp or D flat, but they are of the same pitch in the modern or ’well tempered’ tuning. C sharp and D flat are equal. They are the same note, and exactly half way between C and D, but traditionally C sharp was higher than D flat. When the new tuning was first used around four centuries ago it was revolutionary and initially sounded a little out of tune but the human ear soon got used to it for it had one enormous advantage over the original tunings: it meant the music could freely change to any key without the need to retune the entire instrument! It allowed composers to create truly expressive, rich harmonies that changed the history of music forever.

In 1722 Bach composed a book of 24 preludes and fugues in every single major and minor key and twenty years later he composed another. Together these form the two books of his famous ‘48’, a landmark in the development of Western music which I would describe as the most important collection of keyboard pieces of all time. A prelude, as its name implies, is a piece which is followed by something else and a fugue is a complex piece of many voices which begin one at a time and then ‘fly away’ from each other, though not always at high speed, and certainly not the way I play them. As I say, I am no concert pianist and I lack the skill and the brain to play at breakneck speed so I play slowly and try to be accurate and expressive, but I certainly make mistakes. In any case, Bach’s exquisite melodies are too indulgent to be shortened by playing quickly!

So why am I doing this? Well, inspired by Philip Thomson’s recent heroic sponsored assent of Ben Nevis on behalf of financing the new town mosaics I wondered what I could do to help the magazine. Yes, Talk of the Town has financial difficulties. It always has! I’ve made no secret of the fact that these last nine years have been a constant struggle to make ends meet. I talk to anybody who will listen about this and it becomes obvious what they are thinking: ‘Oh Ian’s just having a whinge but he always gets the job done so why should we care?’ Well, I might not be able to get the job done much longer and it’s time to alert the people of Saltburn to the unpleasant reality that they might lose their unique magazine unless something is done to help. Unfortunately, the only help I need is financial and that’s the only help that’s in short supply at the moment.

Every good idea to help save the magazine seems to have some real or imaginary negative aspect to it. A fundamental problem is that the magazine is a private business and not a registered charity. It’s not even one of those ‘community enterprises’ but it should be. People offer to help me convert the magazine into one, but nothing then happens. It’s an intolerable burden for one person to carry on behalf of the whole of Saltburn, but that’s the way it is. In many ways, the magazine only exists because I have kept it alive and nurtured it when a committee would probably have folded it and walked away years ago. Another good idea was to set up a group called ‘Friends of Talk of the Town’ where members would pay me £1 a month, basically to buy their copy which they had been getting for free. That could make a difference but nothing ever happens. It was suggested last year that I could put an envelope in the magazine asking for donations. This was an excellent idea but it was killed off by one negative voice saying I would be criticized for asking for donations when I’m not a registered charity. This is nonsense! There is no law in this country that forbids the raising of funds for a worthwhile project that isn’t a charity. It is an excuse for mean-spiritedness and a refusal to help. In any case the criticism I might get would not have been as bad as the blame I’d receive if ever the magazine ceased to exist.

So it’s down to me to make it work or fail. Nobody is going to save the magazine except me, no matter how much the people of Saltburn love it. So what can I do? I can play the piano. On November 5th I shall be busking, begging if you like (there’s no dignity in being the editor of Talk of the Town!), for funds to save the magazine. If you like trendy language you can call it a ‘sponsored pianothon’ and sponsorship forms will be available in participating shops this month. All money raised will be paid into the magazine’s bank account and become part of the general, accountable finances of the magazine. Please support me and drop in to the theatre to listen to some Bach, have a cup of coffee and make a donation to help this much loved magazine continue to serve the Saltburn community, in its current style and format.

 Ian Tyas is supporting 'Talk of the Town'

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Hunt is on for Saltburn's Mystery Guerrilla Knitter.

A mystery knitter has been pulling the wool over the eyes of both residents and visitors to Saltburn who are baffled by the appearance of a number of intricately knitted scarves which have been attached to various parts of the town centre including lamp-posts, railings and buildings.

The appearance of these novel pieces of public art may be connected to Saltburn’s 150th anniversary as many of them, including the latest 6ft long scarf left outside the library, had a note attached to that effect.
It was signed the “Yarn Junkie” but leaves no clue as to the identity of the knitter.

Other knitted pieces with different designs have appeared in Station Street and outside the local supermarket.
Three knitted teddy bears have also been seen regularly enjoying a tea party at a table on the Marine Parade picnic area.

The scarf outside the library is an impressive work of art. Staff locked up as usual one evening, but overnight the long woollen scarf appeared on the railing outside the library door. A tantalising feature of Saltburn’s latest scarf is the play on words in the titles of the books knitted on to it. A local resident commented, "Instead of The Secret Garden one is called The Secret Cardigan. Another is called A Ribbing Yarn instead of A Ripping Yarn."

Saltburn librarian Lynne Mackenzie said: “It is very clever and colourful and must have taken a while to knit. It’s a mystery, but a very attractive one. Staff find most library users appreciate the fun item. But rumours are rife about the identity of Saltburn’s Yarn Junkie."

The scarves could be a local version of a worldwide campaign by knitting enthusiasts to place knitted garments in public places. The pieces placed nationally are also anonymous.

Who is Saltburn's mystery knitter and why have they decided to wind everyone up? Can you identify the culprit(s)? Perhaps all will be revealed very soon...

The latest on Saltburn's Guerrilla Knitter's - Stitching up the Pier