When can you meet glassmaking grandee Peter Layton at Pyramid Gallery? Thursday!

London Glassblowing founder Peter Layton, holding a Gito vase, and Pyramid Gallery owner Terry Brett

PETER Layton, London Glassblowing workshop founder and British studio glass movement grandee, will make an appearance at Pyramid Gallery on Thursday from 4.30pm to 6.15pm to herald the York art emporium’s 40th anniversary celebrations.

Gallery owner Terry Brett says: “In that period, Peter has taken part in many exhibitions of glass here and for at least 30 years he has been represented by the gallery, as have many associates of his workshop in Bermondsey Street, London.

“To mark 40 years of promoting British studio glass, we’re displaying 40 pieces of art glass that have a connection to London Glassblowing, which is itself celebrating an important anniversary: 45 years. Please join Peter for a glass of wine or a soft drink and a chat.”

Amber Glacier, by Peter Layton, at Pyramid Gallery, York

Peter is presenting 18 glass works from various ranges in the 40 Pieces Of Glass anniversary show, exhibiting alongside Bruce Marks, Layne Rowe, Anthony Scala, Sila Yucel, Cathryn Shilling and Sarah Wiberley, complemented by William Watson West’s exhibition of abstract acrylic paintings, A New Normal.

Peter trained in the 1960s as a ceramicist, but while teaching at Iowa University he experimented with glass and soon adopted it as his preferred medium. On returning to Britain, he became one of the pioneers of the British studio glass movement in London, establishing the London Glassblowing workshop in Rotherhithe in 1976.

When Terry took over Pyramid Gallery in 1994, Peter was already well established with the gallery, having supplied founder Robert Feather with glass in the early 1980s.

“I recall selling a piece of Peter’s glass on my first day of opening on May 31 1994,” says Terry. “A German glass collector came into the shop and immediately went to a tall white glass bottle that was in a cabinet.

Ice-Cap Pyramid, blown and cast glass, cut and polished, by Peter Layton

“It took no longer than five minutes for him to make a decision and purchase the object, that I now know was a Peter Layton ‘Floral’ flacon. It seemed a lot of money to me, who knew nothing about studio glass.

“I was shaking inside as I took the payment and wrapped the object in a box, but I knew it was a watershed moment for me and I have adored glass ever since.”

Since that day, at least 30 more glass artists from London Glassblowing have exhibited at Pyramid, along with 270 other glassmakers whose work has sold through the gallery in Stonegate.

40 Pieces Of Glass will run until September 24; after July, it will become part of a mixed show with other artists. Exhibition pieces can be viewed at both the gallery and online at pyramidgallery.com.  

Pyramid Gallery owner Terry Brett, holding a glass form by Peter Layton. On display too are a glass ring by Colin Reid, a yellow sculpture by Bruno Romanelli, a plate by Barry Stedman and pictures by Hilke Macintyre and Mick Leach

Don Lodge’s Impressions Of The Rally In York painting sale aids York City of Sanctuary’s support for Ukrainian refugees

Purchaser Paul Martin and Pyramid Gallery owner with Don Lodge’s fundraising painting Impressions Of The Rally In York

YORK resident Paul Martin has bought Don Lodge’s painting Impressions Of The Rally In York. All proceeds will go to York City of Sanctuary to support refugees arriving from Ukraine.

The £500 oil on canvas captures a scene from a Ukraine rally held in York in March. All key individuals in the painting have given their consent for their images to be used for publicity for this cause. More details on York City of Sanctuary can be found at york.cos.org.uk.

Mr Martin is pictured, left, with Pyramid Gallery owner Terry Brett surrounded by paintings from Danny Barbour’s Unearthed exhibition, on show at the Stonegate gallery until April 24.

More Things To Do in York and beyond, whether locating your ‘inner outlaw’ or just going out. List No. 74, courtesy of The Press

Charles Hutchinson unearths Indian jazz, jive, cabaret, ceramics , 70 years of hits and a candlelit concert for Ukrainian solidarity for your diary.

Re-entry, by Danny Barbour, on show at According To McGee from today

Exhibition launch of the week: Christine Cox, Geoff Cox and Danny Barbour, Unearthed, Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, today until April 24.

CHRSTINE Cox, Geoff Cox and Danny Barbour will be at Terry Brett’s gallery today from 11.30am to 2pm to talk about their Unearthed exhibition.

Pyramid Gallery’s spring show combines Christines ceramics, derived from repeated visits to a Cumbrian sea-cliff; Geoff’s ceramic pots and sculpture, rooted in archaeology and long-lost civilisations, and Danny’s paintings and collages that draw on his fascination with what lies beneath the surface.

“Unearthed features the work of three artists whose work is inspired by the passing of time: changes observed in the built environment and found remnants from the past,” says Terry.

Lady Lounges, ceramic, by Geoff Cox, at According To McGee

Diva at the double: Velma Celli: Me And My Divas, York Theatre Royal, tonight, 7.30pm; Velma Celli: Outlaw Live, National Centre for Early Music, York, doors, 7pm; show, 8pm

YORK’S drag diva deluxe, Velma Celli, returns to York Theatre Royal for “an overindulgent diva fest celebrating the songs and behaviour of all your favourite divas” with York singer Jess Steel and West End leading lady Gina Murray.

This cabaret night of impressions and banter celebrates Whitney, Aretha, Bassey, Streisand, Garland, Cilla, Dolly, Madonna, Adele, Sia and latest addition Jessie J.

Next Friday, Velma and York Gin launch Outlaw Live, an outrageous night of cabaret and gin at the NCEM, raising a glass to Guy Fawkes, Dick Turpin and all that’s villainous and defiantly naughty about York and its outlaws. Box office: tickettailor.com/events/yorkgin/590817.

“Explore your inner outlaw”: Velma Celli in Outlaw Live mode

Welcome to the Pleasure dome: King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys, Selby Town Hall, tonight, 8pm

AFTER 6,500 performances across 21 countries in more than 30 years on the road, the jump, jive and swing band King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys bring their high octane, good-time show to Selby.

The sartorially sharp British band have performed their dance-hall rhythm & blues opening for BB King, Cab Calloway and Ray Charles and have toured with the Blues Brothers Band from the movie. Box office: 01757 708449 or selbytownhall.co.uk.

King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys: In the swing at Selby Town Hall

Jazz gig of the week: Arun Ghosh and Yaatri, The Crescent, York, Thursday, 7.30pm

IN a showcase of Indian-influenced jazz, York promoter Ouroboros presents award-winning clarinettist Arun Ghosh’s return to The Crescent to perform music from new album Seclused In Light. Ghosh and his band deliver a passionate sound driven by soaring melodies, hypnotic rhythms and transcendental textures as he melds jazz with  jazz myriad of musical influences, from jungle to punk, blues to Bollywood.

Support act Yaatri are an art-rock/jazz crossover five-piece, formed in Leeds in 2018, led by Indian/American guitarist and composer Liam Narain DeTar. Box office: thecrescentyork.seetickets.com.

Arun Ghosh: Showcasing his Seclused In Light album at The Crescent, York. Picture: Emile Holba

Why life is a minestrone: 10cc, The Ultimate Greatest Hits Tour, York Barbican, March 26, 7.30pm

CO-FOUNDER Graham Gouldman leads 10cc on their return to the concert stage after the lockdown lull, as the art-rock icons perform the chart-topping I’m Not In Love, Rubber Bullets and Dreadlock Holiday alongside eight more top ten hits.

Bass and guitar player Gouldman, 75, is joined by lead guitarist Rick Fenn, drummer Paul Burgess, keyboards player Keith Hayman and vocalist Iain Hornal. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Graham Gouldman and 10cc: Playing their greatest hits at York Barbican

Candlelit concert of the week: The Ebor Singers, How Do You Keep The Music Playing?, Chapter House, York Minster, March 26, 7.30pm

THE Ebor Singers return to the Chapter House for the first time since March 2020 to celebrate being together again, while pausing to reflect on what society has endured together.

The candlelit programme features Allegri’s Miserere; choral pieces by Whitacre and Esenwalds; an arrangement of Michel Legrand’s jazz classic How Do You Keep The Music Playing? and premieres of two lockdown commissions, Kerensa Briggs’s The Inner Light and Philip Moore’s O Vos Omnes.

In solidarity with the people of Ukraine, the singers perform works by Kyiv composer Valentin Silvestrov, 84, who managed to leave the country safely last week. Tickets: on the door or at tickets.yorkminster.org.

The Ebor Singers: First Chapter House concert at York Minster since March 2020

Nostalgia of the week: 70 Years Of Pop Music, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, March 27, 7.30pm

THIS year marks the 70th anniversary of the dawn of the British pop charts, when Al Martino claimed the first number one spot with Here In My Heart on November 20 2022.

Don Pears’ singers and musicians take a journey through the decades from Perry Como and Doris Day to Adele and Ed Sheeran in this fundraiser for the JoRo theatre.  

“Somewhere between A for Abba and Z for ZZ Top, whether you are a fan of the Fifties and Sixties or the Nineties and Noughties, there will be music that will delight you,” promises Don. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Eboracum Baroque: Heading back to the alehouses of 17th century England

Baroque’n’roll: Eboracum Baroque, Purcell And A Pint, York Mansion House, St Helen’s Square, York, May 7, 7.30pm

EBORACUM Baroque are teaming up with York Gin for an evening of rowdy drinking songs, fiddle tunes, alongside music by Purcell and baroque composers “he might have had a pint with”.

“This time our concert is called Purcell And A Pint, sadly not a pint of gin but you still get a free gin on arrival!”, says trumpet player and percussionist Chris Parsons.

“We’ll transport you back to the alehouses of 17th century England. Taverns were raucous surroundings and overflowed with music, alcohol, sex, gossip, fights, fumes, shouting, singing, laughing, dancing. Our performance won’t have all of these – but audience participation is a must.” Box office: eboracumbaroque.co.uk.

More Things To Do in York and beyond, from rock’n’roll raves to a comedy variant. List No. 68, courtesy of The Press, York

The Bluejays: Ready to Rave On at York Theatre Royal

GOLDEN hits, blue art, a grotesque puppet, raucous inventions, a brace of musicals and an on-trend comedian are Charles Hutchinson’s fancies for cultural gratification.

Nostalgia trip of the week: The Bluejays in Rave On, York Theatre Royal, Saturday (5/2/2022), 7.30pm

THE Bluejays, a group comprised of West End stars from The Buddy Holly Story, Million Dollar Quartet, One Man, Two Guvnors and Dreamboats & Petticoats, head back to the fabulous Fifties and swinging Sixties in Rave On.

Charting the meteoric rise of rock’n’roll, this joyful journey through these revolutionary musical decades revels in the golden days of Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, The Beatles, Neil Sedaka, The Kinks, Connie Francis, Lulu and The Shadows. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Rebecca Taylor: Soloist for Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 1 at York Guildhall Orchestra’s concert

Beethoven at the double: York Guildhall Orchestra, York Barbican, tonight, 7.30pm

REBECCA Taylor will be the soloist for Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 1 in the second concert of York Guildhall Orchestra’s 41st season.

Under conductor Simon Wright, the orchestra also perform one of Beethoven’s rarely played overtures, an 1811 commemorative work to King Stephen 1st, founder of Hungary in 1000AD.

The second half features a stalwart of the symphonic repertoire, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 5,  a popular work that “demonstrates his darker side, perhaps ultimate victory through strife,” says Wright. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Jane Dignum’s poster for Westside Artists’ Into The Blue exhibition at Pyramid Gallery, York

Group exhibition of the week: Westside Artists’ Into The Blue at Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, until March 13, open Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm

EACH of the Westside Artists, a group from the west end of York, has created new work to portray a personal interpretation and concept of the exhibition title, Into The Blue, at Terry Brett’s Pyramid Gallery.

Taking part are Adele Karmazyn (digital photomontage); Carolyn Coles (painting); Donna Marie Taylor (mixed media); Ealish Wilson (mixed media and sculpture); Fran Brammer (textiles) and Jane Dignum (printmaking).

So to are Jill Tattersall (mixed-media collage); Kate Akrill (ceramics); Lucie Wake (painting); Mark Druery (printmaking); Richard Rhodes (ceramics); Sharon McDonagh (mixed media) and Simon Palmour (photography).

Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company cast members in rehearsal for Kipps, The New Half A Sixpence Musical

Who will he choose? Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company in Kipps, The New Half A Sixpence Musical, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, February 9 to 12, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee

IN the coastal town of Folkestone, Arthur Kipps knows there is more to life than his demanding but unrewarding job as an apprentice draper.

When he suddenly inherits a fortune, Kipps is thrown into a world of upper-class soirées and strict rules of etiquette that he barely understands. Torn between the affections of the kind but proper Helen and childhood sweetheart Ann, Kipps must determine whether such a simple soul can find a place in high society.

Tickets for this Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company fundraising show for the JoRo are on sale on 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Blackeyed Theatre in Frankenstein, on tour at the SJT, Scarborough, from Wednesday. Picture: Alex Harvey-Brown

Fright nights ahead: Blackeyed Theatre in Frankenstein, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, February 9 to 12

SOUTH Yorkshire playwright Nick Lane has reinterpreted John Ginman’s original 2016 script for Bracknell touring company Blackeyed Theatre, built around Mary Shelley’s Gothic novel set in Geneva in 1816, where Victor Frankenstein obsesses in the pursuit of nature’s secret, the elixir of life itself.

This highly theatrical telling combines live music and ensemble storytelling with Bunraku-style puppetry to portray The Creature. Designed and built by Warhorse and His Dark Materials alumna Yvonne Stone, the 6ft 4inch puppet is operated by up to three actors at any one time. Box office: 01723 370541 or at sjt.uk.com.

Jonny Holbek in rehearsal for his role of Che in York Light Opera Company’s production of Evita

“Big sing” of the week ahead: York Light Opera Company in Evita, York Theatre Royal, February 9 to 19

DIRECTOR Martyn Knight has decided to use double casting for the five main roles in Evita, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s musical of people, politics and power, in response to Covid-19’s ongoing impact.

The principals have been rehearsing separately, with Alexa Chaplin and Emma-Louise Dickinson sharing the lead role of Eva Peron; Dale Vaughan and Jonny Holbek playing Che; John Hall and Neil Wood as Juan Peron, Dave Copley-Martin and Richard Weatherill as Agustin Maglidi, and Fiona Phillips and Hannah Witcomb as Peron’s Mistress.

Covid, long Covid and even physical injuries have necessitated Knight drawing up his 18th cast list at the latest count. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Con Brio, by Mark Hearld, at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Picture: Red Photography

Last chance to see: Mark Hearld’s Raucous Invention: The Joy Of Making, Upper Space and YSP Centre, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, near Wakefield, ends tomorrow (6/2/2022)

THIS weekend is the finale to Raucous Invention: The Joy Of Making, an  ambitious, vibrant, and creative journey wherein York artist and designer Mark Hearld explores connections through collaboration and risk-taking to create bold and challenging works, including tapestries and ceramics.

Working from his Portland Street studio across a range of media and using the natural world as inspiration, Hearld has made collages, lino-cut prints, letter-press prints and a large-scale mural that fills the walls of the YSP kitchen in the visitor centre. You will need to book at ysp.org.uk.

Pandemic pontifications: Russell Kane’s new tour show, The Essex Variant!, is heading to York Barbican

Still the only subject in town by then? Russell Kane Live: The Essex Variant!, York Barbican, December 14

ENFIELD humorist Russell Kane offers his “gut-punch funny, searing take on the two years we’ve just gone through” in his new stand-up tour show, The Essex Variant!. More like, three years, by then.

Comic, writer, presenter and actor Kane presents two podcasts, Man Baggage and BBC Radio 4’s Evil Genius and is a regular on Channel 4, BBC and ITV. “I drink lots of coffee and I’m ‘like that in real life’,” he says. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Westside story as York artists gather for Into The Blue exhibition at Pyramid Gallery

Adele Karmazyn’s show poster for Westside Artists’ Into The Blue

INTO The Blue, an exhibition of paintings, sculptures and prints by York’s Westside Artists, is running at Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, until March 13.

“This is an eclectic show of work by this collaboration of artists from the West of York,” says gallery owner Terry Brett. “In Pyramid’s 40th year in York, we’re keen to celebrate the wealth of talent here in our city, starting the year off with this beautiful show.”

Jane Dignum’s poster for Westside Artists’ Into The Blue exhibition

“Each artist has created new work to portray their personal interpretation and concept of the exhibition title, Into The Blue. With so many diverse disciplines, the exhibition really is a sight to behold.”

Taking part are Adele Karmazyn (digital photomontage); Carolyn Coles (painting); Donna Marie Taylor (mixed media); Ealish Wilson (mixed media and sculpture); Fran Brammer (textiles) and Jane Dignum (printmaking).

Photographer Simon Palmour’s poster

So to are Jill Tattersall (mixed-media collage); Kate Akrill (ceramics); Lucie Wake (painting); Mark Druery (printmaking); Richard Rhodes (ceramics); Sharon McDonagh (mixed media) and Simon Palmour (photography).

Pyramid Gallery is open from 10am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday, but closed on Sundays at present.  

Wake-up call: Lucie Wake’s poster to attract visitors to Into The Blue

Bertt deBaldock launches Covid-era second volume of Good Rabbits Gone tributes in aid of St Leonard’s Hospice

The artist behind the mask: Terry Brett in his nom d’art guise as The Scribbler, memorial tribute cartoonist Bertt deBaldock

YORK cartoonist Bertt deBaldock’s new volume of rabbit valedictories to celebrities and remarkable individuals covers February 2020 to July 2021.

“That happens to be the period of the start and possible end of the pandemic,” says Terry Brett, the Pyramid Gallery owner and artist behind “The Scribbler” Bertt’s memorial works.

“Hence Good Rabbits Gone 2 has a subtitle, The Covid Years, and the book looks like a strange diary of the pandemic,” he reflects ahead of Saturday’s launch.

The 92 pages contain tributes to luminaries such as Terry Jones of Monty Python, rock’n’roll pioneer Little Richard, World Cup winners Nobby Stiles and Diego Maradona, television and radio personality Tim Brooke-Taylor, forces sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn and Bond Girls Honor Blackman and Dame Diana Rigg, alongside the most venerable Bond, Sir Sean Connery.

“But also there’s a visual list of several pandemic crises such as ‘lockdown’, ‘beer going down the drain’ and the ‘demise of the office’, all portrayed as rabbits,” says Terry.

Bertt deBaldock’s first Good Rabbits Gone tribute: David Bowie with his Aladdin Sane sash

First prompted by the exit stage left of David Bowie on January 10 2016 – the day the music died in a year when it died again and again and again [Prince, Leonard Cohen, George Michael on Christmas Day] – Terry set about drawing cartoons “in a rush” at the time of the “unique individual’s” passing and publishing them on Twitter and Facebook at #GoodRabbitsGone.

He then assembled 64 celebrities, accompanied by his own tributes or memories, in Good Rabbits Gone, Volume One In A Million, published in November 2020 in a Covid Lockdown project where he gave away 200 limited-edition copies and raised £1,700 for St Leonard’s Hospice from donations.

This Saturday, Good Rabbits Gone 2, Volume Two To Infinity will be launched at Pyramid Gallery, in Stonegate, between 11am and 3pm, when Bertt deBaldock will be on hand to sign copies.

Funded by the gallery, the new book again will be given away, and once more voluntary donations to the charity are invited. “From my experience with the first volume, people enjoy being given the book,” says Terry. “Most of those people have then offered a donation, at the gallery or via justgiving.com/fundraising/Terry-Brett6.”

Pyramid Gallery owner and curator Terry Brett with his second volume of Good Rabbit Gone valedictories

Here, Terry answers CharlesHutchPress’s questions on rabbits, death notices, the balance between imagery and wording, the impact of Covid on Good Rabbits Gone and the choice of charity for donations.

For those new to Good Rabbits, why did you choose rabbits as the motif for your valedictory tributes, Terry?

“When my daughters were ten and seven, they had a pet rabbit, which I looked after. We were making a family wall-hanging using stencils. This rabbit appeared as I was cutting a shape in card using scissors. I’ve now been drawing it on Christmas cards for 26 years.

“When David Bowie died, I felt a great sadness. It just seemed natural to me to draw a rabbit for him. Then, three weeks later Terry Wogan. Gradually I started to add facial features to the drawings. After four years, I had 64 drawings and the pandemic lockdown gave me some time to put them in a book.

“It might seem weird to be creating memorials to people by representing them as a rabbit, but I don’t see the need to question it too much. I find the act of drawing helps relieve the sense of loss and my own anxiety about mortality. The process of reading about the individual’s life and trying to capture a tiny segment of their character in a simple drawing is a little bit cathartic. 

“The rabbit body and ears create a limitation in the final drawing, preventing each portrait from being too complicated or serious. All the individuals become united by the addition of rabbit ears!”

Rock’n’roll over and out: Bertt deBaldock’s farewell to Little Richard

Or, in a nutshell…?

“There’s a long-held belief in the Bertt/Brett household that if you have lived a good life, well, let’s say a mostly good life, i.e. if you have been nice or have achieved something for the benefit of others, then when you die you will become a rabbit.”

How do the newly RIP VIPs quality for a Bertt deBaldock tribute? Has that changed at all for Volume Two?

“Well, most names who hit the headlines qualify on the basis that they have done something amazing in their life. I can’t really tell whether or not they have actually been a good human being, though with many people there’s so much written about them, that there’s no closet in which to hide the skeletons. 

“I was disappointed not to be able include Motown producer Phil Spector, ruled out on the basis that he was found guilty of second-degree murder. There are many others that I could have included, lots of actors and actresses, but I like to find some other attribute in their make-up that goes beyond acting.

Honor Blackman: Wartime despatch rider, judo black belt and Bond Girl

“Honor Blackman, for instance, was a Second World War despatch rider and a judo blackbelt before she became an actress. Reading about iconic individuals fascinates me.”

Do you consider the wording to be as important as the imagery, with much greater scope than on a gravestone?

“I want to make the page entertaining or give the impression that the individual was a person of substance. Some people’s faces, or eccentric dress, say most of what needs to be said, but the addition of a quotation can put across something of great importance to that individual.

“For Albert Roux, I merely added his quote ‘Don’t let love interfere with your appetite’, which says all you need to know about a man who holds food up above all other human needs.

“But I enjoyed adding a bit of humour to that with the dates of his birth and death: Hors D’oeuvres 8 Octobre 1935, Digestif 4 Janvier 2021. As well as being amusing, it tells the reader that he was both a chef and French. 

Bertt deBaldock’s food for thought on Albert Roux OBE

“Sometimes, I like to add an anecdote about myself or my family. Some people have said that these are their favourite pages! For the astronaut Michael Collins, I say only a little about him as Apollo Command Module pilot and the moonwalk by Neil Armstrong, but a lot about me delivering newspapers in the rain, while they were at the crux of their mission. It brings things down to earth a little.”

This set of tributes covers the Covid period: how much does that cast a shadow over the memorials,  even prompting the subtitle and your reflection that it “looks like a strange diary of the pandemic”?

“The whole world was in a state of panicked confusion. Some of these great people died of Covid.  I was really shocked that Tim Brooke-Taylor was an early victim. I felt that if he can’t be saved, then we are all very vulnerable.

“The book would have been incomplete without some acknowledgement of the pandemic, and I wanted to record some poignant moments, such as the Thursday night applause we gave to the NHS and essential workers.

“I drew the hands clapping in rainbow colours, with the hands gradually becoming rabbits. This is a subtle dig at the Government. If they think that saying thank-you to NHS is enough, then they don’t understand what the public is feeling about the years of under-funding the NHS.

“Sometimes, I like to add an anecdote about myself or my family. Some people have said that these are their favourite pages!” says Terry Brett, with reference to his Michael Collins memorial

“If all we can do is applaud the NHS for the sacrifices made, then the NHS itself will become a [Bertt] rabbit. Other European nations were better prepared for the crisis than the UK, more ventilators, more nurses and better provision of PPE. It was right to clap for the NHS but they need more funds and better planning. 

“I didn’t set out to make points about the politics, but it just couldn’t be ignored. There was also a lot of humour put out on social media about Covid. I think it helps us all get through.”

How have you responded to Covid in the broader subject matter for (with reference to ‘Lockdown’, ‘Beer Going Down The Drain’, ‘Freedom – Italy’ and ‘The Demise Of The Office’)?

“The Demise Of The Office was added in right at the end. It was difficult to find a tag that would be amusing. It’s just a boring subject that I needed to find some humour in.

“I was looking for something to say about the Minke whale that died after swimming up the Thames, which was too upsetting to turn into humour. Once I decided to put these two stories together, it became very poignant. The empty streets tempted the Minke Whale to move in! It’s one of my favourite pages.

Freedom – Italy, March 2020, by Bertt deBaldock

“To keep it light-hearted, I also gave an office block some rabbit ears, as if the building itself has died. The page about ‘Beer’ was fun, though the knowledge that 50 million pints went down the drains was a catastrophe that could have been avoided.”

Usually, your tributes raise a nostalgic smile, but do Covid-related tributes have to be more serious?

“There are only four people featured here that I know for sure died from Covid – Dr  Li Wenliang, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Alexander Thynn and Captain Tom Moore – but I suspect that many others have had Covid but it’s just not been mentioned to the press as a cause of death. 

“Four Covid cases out of a total 72 people is probably about a third of the proportion of Covid deaths to non-Covid deaths for the whole population, so we should have expected the number in this book to be about 12. 

“I had considered including the first nurse and the first bus driver etc who died, but I don’t feel it would be appropriate to make entertainment out of such tragedy. Which makes me question why it seems appropriate to pay tribute in a humorous manner to celebrities. I do wonder if it is appropriate and whether or not they would choose to be included or not, but I can only guess at what their response might be.

The fundraising Yorkshireman, Captain Sir Tom Moore, who walked and walked and walked towards his 100th birthday in aid of the NHS

“So, in answer to this question, I think the cause of death makes no difference as to the way I would represent the individual, except perhaps in the case of Dr Li Wenliang, whose demise was especially sad, unjust for political reasons, premature and included here to make a point about the gross ineptitude of the authorities and leaders in China, who could have mitigated the effects of the virus by making different decisions.

“In a broader sense, I hope that most of the individuals here, if they could make a comment, would like what I have done or at least find it mildly amusing, though some of the scribbled portraits might not really do the person justice!

“I would love to know what the Queen would think of my tribute to Prince Philip, but I’m not expecting a knighthood for it. We are very fortunate to live in a culture that allows freedom of expression without fear for our lives!”

Why will donations be going to St Leonard’s Hospice from the charity launch night?

“My father died of prostate cancer at the too early age of 76. Partly because he wasn’t diagnosed. I asked him if was angry about the disease and he told me to go and get a test. I felt sorry for him because he was in denial about his predicament.

Bertt deBaldock’s cartoon drawing to mark the passing of Prince Philip. “I would love to know what the Queen would think of my tribute, but I’m not expecting a knighthood for it,” says Bertt

“He simply carried on life as if there was nothing to concern himself about, but when the time came, he booked himself into a hospice and died the next day. I think the existence of the hospice allowed him to take control and make that decision. You cannot just book yourself into a hospital and who would want to?

“The hospice doctor simply chatted to him and asked him what he wanted, to which he answered, ‘ice cream’. He was dead two hours later. I’m proud of him for that. And I want to tell everyone that dying can be dignified and that the hospice movement do this very well.

“I have supported St Leonard’s Hospice ever since that day. The hospice is largely funded by donations from individuals, as well as government grants. I feel the hospice needs to have independence.”

Bertt deBaldock/Terry Brett launches Good Rabbits Gone 2 at Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, on Saturday (16/10/2021) with a book-signing session and charity fundraiser for St Leonard’s Hospice from 11am to 3pm.

Vaccine Day, by Bertt deBaldock

More Things To Do in and around York as 145 artists and makers open studio doors. List No. 40, courtesy Of The Press, York

Minster, by textile artist Carol Coleman, who is taking part in York Open Studios at 1 Carlton Cottages, Wigginton

AHEAD of Monday’s already trailered Step 4 pronouncement, Charles Hutchinson unmasks events aplenty, from Open Studios to heavy metal heaven, theatre comedy to theatre tragi-comedy, musical celebrations to  a triple exhibition.

Big art event of the next two weekends: York Open Studios 2021, preview night tomorrow, 6pm to 9pm; July 10/11 and 17/18, 10am to 5pm

AFTER the Covid-enforced fallow year of 2020, York Open Studios returns this weekend for its 20th parade of the city’s creative talent.

The event sees 145 artists and makers open 95 studios, homes and workplaces, and among them will be 43 debutants, with full details at yorkopenstudios.co.uk.

York’s biggest annual art showcase spans ceramics, collages, digital art, illustration, jewellery, mixed media, painting, printmaking, photography, furniture, sculpture and textiles.

Still feeling their Old Selves after lockdown easement: Yorkshire four-piece look overjoyed at the prospect of headlining tomorrow’s very heavy metal bill at The Fulford Arms

Hardcore gig of the week: Old Selves, Blight Town, Cast Out and Realms at The Fulford Arms, York, tomorrow, 7.30pm.

“WHAT at an absolute heavy metal treat,” enthuses Fulford Arms supremo Chris Sherrington, ahead of tomorrow’s headbanger fiesta, headlined by fiery Yorkshire four-piece Old Selves.

Playing loud too will be Nottingham progressive post-hardcore/math rock quintet Blight Town, York punk’n’roll/metalcore crossover band Cast Out and Yorkshire post-hardcore act Realms, who “make music for people who never grew out of their emo phase”. Tickets: thefulfordarms.bigcartel.com/ or on the door.

Lead actors Sandy Foster and Tom Kanji in rehearsal for Laura Wade’s comedy of domestic bliss turned to blister, Home, I’m Darling. Picture: Ellie Kurttz

Make a trip to Scarborough for: Home, I’m Darling, Stephen Joseph Theatre, July 9 to August 14

SWEET peas in the garden; homemade lemon curd in the kitchen; marital bliss in the bedroom, Judy and Johnny seem to be the perfect couple. Sickeningly happy, in fact, in Laura Wade’s domestic comedy-drama. 

Is their marriage everything it seems, however? Are there cracks in their happiness? What happens when the 1950s’ family values they love so much stop working in the 21st century as the couple discovers that nostalgia ain’t what it used to be. 

Liz Stevenson directs this co-production between Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, Bolton’s Octagon Theatre and the SJT. Box office: thesjt.uk.com.

Back together in Beulah: Actor-musicians Jim Harbourne and Ed Wren reunite next week, having first performed the show for The Flanagan Collective in 2012

Theatre resurrection of the week ahead: The Flanagan Collective in Beulah, Summer At The Mill, Stillington, near York, July 14 to 16, 8pm to 10pm

AN island sets sail into the sunset; a boy watches a lion running out of the sky, and an old man is sleeping as Alexander Wright’s Beulah reawakens in Stillington.

Inspired by William Blake’s world of a “mild and pleasant rest”, Wright plays with  notions of reality, of the permeable times of day and liminal states of being, in a show woven with storytelling, puppetry and soaring live music, first staged at York Theatre Royal in the bygone summer of 2012.

Directed by Tom Bellerby, Beulah is performed by actor-musicians and composers Jim Harbourne and Ed Wren. Box office: atthemill.org.

Father Of The Flowers, by York artist Linda Combi, from her exhibition The Last Gardener Of Aleppo at Pyramid Gallery, York

Exhibition launch of the week times three: Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, Friday to September 5

ERUM Aamir, Debbie Loane and Linda Combi form the suitably triangular structure of Pyramid Gallery’s summer show. Not one, but three exhibitions will run in two upstairs rooms.

For Celestial Garden, Manchester ceramic artist Erum Aamir has made intricate porcelain sculptures that fuse her scientific research and artistic imaginations, complemented in the front room by seascape and landscape paintings by Easingwold artist Debbie Loane under the title of The Peace Of Wild Places.

York artist Linda Combi presents The Last Gardener Of Aleppo, a series of original collages and mixed-media artworks and giclee prints that form a moving tribute to Abu Waad in aid of The Lemon Tree Trust and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees agency.

Not having a ball: Luke Dickson as doomed Leeds United manager Brian Clough in The Damned United at York Theatre Royal

Second time lucky: The Damned United, Red Ladder Theatre Company, York Theatre Royal, July 15, kick-off 7.30pm

THE Damned Pandemic curse struck again when June 16’s performance of The Damned United was postponed after one of the actors had an inconclusive lateral flow test. Tickets remain valid for the post-Euro 2020 new date.

Anders Lustgarten’s darkly humorous adaptation of David Peace’s book about Brian Clough’s 44 days in purgatory as Leeds United’s manager is built around the double act of tortured genius Clough (Luke Dickson) and father figure/assistant Peter Taylor (David Chafer).

The beauty and brutality of football, the working man’s ballet, bursts out of a story of sweat and booze, fury and power battles. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

No, that’s not England manager Gareth Southgate, second from left, front row, in Black Sheep Theatre’s line-up

Raise the roof booster:  Black Sheep Theatre, For The Love Of Musicals, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, July 24, 2.30pm and 7.30pm

MUSICAL director Matthew Clare and his merry band, plus a heap of York singers, present a concert programme packed with musical delights as they seek to prove that “There’s No Business Like Show Business”.

The song list for this Black Sheep Theatre fundraiser for the Joseph Rowntree York, spans Annie Get Your Gun, the classics and more recent shows, such as Dear Evan Hansen. Box office: josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Joshua Burnell: Live At Forty Five gig in August. Picture: Stewart Baxter

Intimate gig announcement of the week: Joshua Burnell, Live At Forty Five, Forty Five Vinyl Café, Micklegate, York, August 14, 7.30pm

JOSHUA Burnell, progressive York purveyor of folk-fused baroque’n’roll for the modern world, performs in a three-piece line-up, including Frances Sladen, at Forty Five Vinyl Café next month.

Expect a showcase for latest album Flowers Where The Horses Sleep and his new EP, Storm Cogs, featuring songs about a folk singer who went missing for 30 years (Shelagh McDonald), a storm-chasing flying machine and a childhood memory, “written and recorded in lockdown and released as the world recovers”.

Elsie Franklin supports. Tickets are on sale at fortyfiveuk.com/events/joshua-burnell-live-at-fortyfive.

More Things To Do in and around York and while stuck with “staying home”. Lockdown List No. 25, courtesy of The Press, York

Flood, mixed-media monotype, by Lesley Birch, from Muted Worlds, her joint exhibition with ceramicist Emily Stubbs, running initially online and then at Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York

LOCKDOWN 3 plods on with no end in sight deep amid the winter chill, drawing Charles Hutchinson’s gaze to online events, a writing opportunity and the promise of live entertainment somewhere down the line.

Online lockdown exhibition at the double: Emily Stubbs and Lesley Birch, Muted Worlds, for Pyramid Gallery, York

CERAMICIST Emily Stubbs and artist Lesley Birch have teamed up for Muted Worlds, a lockdown exhibition of pots and paintings that has begun as a digital show from their studios before moving to Terry Bretts’s gallery in Stonegate, once Lockdown 3 strictures are eased. 

Ceramicist Emily Stubbs: Muted Worlds exhibitor and York Open Studios participant

“This is a show with a more muted edge,” say Emily and Lesley. “Winter is here and with it, Covid, and another lockdown, so we feel the need for simplicity. We have collaborated to produce monochrome pieces inspired by the winter season.”

Looking ahead, Emily will be taking part in  York Open Studios this summer, showing her ceramics at 51 Balmoral Terrace.

Rowntree Park: Hosting the Friends of Rowntree Park’s Words From A Bench project

Creative project of the winter season: Friends of Rowntree Park’s Words From A Bench project

THE Friends of Rowntree Park invite you to join the Words From A Bench project by submitting a short story or poem based around themes of the York park, the outdoors, nature and escape.

No more than 1,000 words in length, the works will be displayed in the park. Adults and children alike should send entries by February 15 to hello@rowntreepark.org.uk.

Mary Coughlan: Irish singer has had to rearrange her Pocklington Arts Centre concert for a second time

Gigs on the move: Pocklington Arts Centre re-writing 2021 diary

POCKLINGTON Arts Centre is re-scheduling concerts aplenty in response to the relentless grip of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Irish chanteuse Mary Coughlan’s April 23 show is being moved to October 19; the Women In Rock tribute show, from May 21 to October 29; New York singer-songwriter Jesse Malin, from February 2 to December 7, and Welsh singer-songwriter Martyn Joseph, from February 12 to December 2. Tickets remain valid for the rearranged dates.

A new date is yet to be arranged for the postponed February 23 gig by The Delines, Willy Vlautin’s country soul band from Portland, Oregon. Watch this space.

At sixes and sevens: The Gesualdo Six with director Owain Park (third from left, back row)

Early notice of online Early Music Day at National Centre for Early Music, York, March 21

THE Gesualdo Six will lead the NCEM’s celebrations for Early Music Day 2021 on March 21 by embarking on an online whistle-stop musical tour of York.

The Cambridge vocal consort’s concert will be a streamed at 3pm as part of a day when musical organisations throughout Europe will come together for a joyful programme of events to mark JS Bach’s birthday. 

During their residency, The Gesualdo Six will spend almost a week in York performing in a variety of locations on a musical tour of the city that will be filmed and shared in March.

Monster and Minster beyond: A B-movie bridge drama on the Ouse by the alliteratively named Lincoln Lightfoot, one of the debutants in York Open Studios 2021, now moved to July

Better late than never: York Open Studios, switching from spring to summer

CELEBRATING the 20th anniversary of Britain’s longest-running open studios, York’s artists are determined to go ahead with York Open Studios 2021, especially after a barren year in 2020, when doors had to stay shut in Lockdown 1.

Consequently, the organisers are switching the two weekends from April 17/18 and 24/25 to July 10/11 and July 17/18, when more than 140 artists and makers will show and sell their work within their homes and workspaces in an opportunity for art lovers and the curious to “enjoy fresh air, meet artists and view and buy unique arts and crafts from York’s very best artisans”.

Midge Ure: Opening his Voice & Visions Tour at the Grand Opera House, York

Planning ahead for next year, part one: Midge Ure & Band Electronica, Grand Opera House, York

MIDGE Ure & Band Electronica will open next year’s Voice & Visions Tour at the Grand Opera House, York, on February 22, when the 67-year-old Scotsman will be marking 40 years since the release of Ultravox’s Rage In Eden and Quartet albums in September 1981 and October 1982 respectively.

Ure & Band Electronica last played the Opera House in October 2019 on The 1980 Tour, when Ultravox’s 1980 album, Vienna, was performed in its entirety for the first time in four decades, complemented by highlights from Visage’s debut album, as Ure recalled the year when he co-wrote, recorded and produced the two future-sounding records.

Tommy Emmanuel: York gig awaits for fingerstyle Australian guitarist

Planning ahead for next year, part two: Tommy Emmanuel at Grand Opera House, York

AUSTRALIAN guitarist Tommy Emmanuel, 65, will play the Grand Opera House, York, on March 6 2022 in the only Yorkshire show of next year’s12-date tour with special guest Jerry Douglas, the Ohio dobro master.

At 44, Emmanuel became one of only five musicians to be named a Certified Guitar Player by his idol, Chet Atkins. Playing fingerstyle, he frequently threads three different guitar parts simultaneously into his material, handling melody, supporting chords and bass all at once.

Steven Devine: Harpsichordist pictured when recording at the NCEM, York

Online concert series of the season: Steven Devine, Bach Bites, National Centre for Early Music, York, Fridays

EVERY Friday at 1pm, until March 19, harpsichordist Steven Devine is working his way through J S Bach’s Fugues and Preludes in his online concert series. Find it on the NCEM’s Facebook stream.

And what about?

STAYING in, staying home, means TV viewing aplenty. Tuck into the French film talent agency frolics and frictions of Call My Agent! on Netflix and Scottish procedural drama Traces on the Beeb; be disappointed by Finding Alice on ITV.

Christmas Collection and “Free Stuff” at Pyramid Gallery keep Terry Brett busy

Paintings by Anita Klein and ceramic vessels by Barry Stedman in the Christmas Collection at Pyramid Gallery

THE Christmas Collection exhibition is under way at Pyramid Gallery, York, initially online but with plans for the gallery to reopen on December 3, subject to this week’s upcoming tier-ful Government guidance.

The main feature of the festive show is a collection of linocut prints and acrylic paintings by Australian-born Anita Klein, complemented by ceramic sculpture by Blandine Anderson, glass by David Reekie, Cara Wassenberg and Layne Rowe, bronze elephants by German sculptor Eckhard Wahning and a Lockdown Dragon fest by Morag Reekie.

Look out too for collagraphs by York artist Sally Clarke, screenprints by Mychael Barratt, abstract collages by Danny Barbour, a ceramic elephant parade by Ann-Marie Fieber and ceramic vessels by Barry Stedman, plus new jewellery by 50 British designer makers.

The Christmas Collection show will continue until January 20 and everything will be available online at http://www.pyramidgallery.com

A second show, The Glass Collection, will be opening on December 7, presenting work by Dreya Bennett; Fiaz Elson; Hannah Gibson; Jon Lewis; Yoshiko Okada; David Reekie; Morag Reekie; Layne Rowe; Will Shakspeare; Helen Slater; Cara Wassenberg and Darren Weed.

Again running until January 20, it also will feature art glass for sale in the permanent Pyramid Collection by Colin Reid, Bruno Romanelli, Peter Layton, Anthony Scala, Bruce Marks and Joseph Harrington.

During Lockdown 2, Terry has placed a table outside the shop with copies of his cartoon memorials book, Good Rabbits Gone, on display to raise money for St Leonard’s Hospice with a target of £3,000 from donations to justgiving.com/fundraising/terry-brett5 or in the cans on the table.

Pyramid Gallery owner Terry Brett with a selection of “Free Stuff” on the table outside his shop in Stonegate, York, during Lockdown 2

In addition, he is giving away “Free Stuff”. “Some people are intrigued as to why I’m doing this,” says Terry. “I decided I needed a ‘Feel Good’ project and a way to interact with people during Lockdown.

“Sitting in a shop all day that is closed is not very stimulating, but this has been a very positive and uplifting experience for me. It has cost me nothing as everything I’m giving away has been paid for a long time ago – some items over 20 years ago – and it’s felt very cleansing. The stock-room shelves are looking tidier!

“There are over 60 magnetic bracelets that have been sitting in boxes on shelves ever since we decided not to sell them anymore about six years ago. These are leather bracelets made by Antonio Chimol in Barcelona. Nicely made. I sold hundreds of them in 2008 to 2014 and they served the business well at a time when it had been affected by the financial crash.

“I still wear these bracelets…but they were a nuisance. Some customers would spend up to an hour with bracelets all over the counter, trying to choose one. Sometimes they would be purchased as a gift and then returned for a different size. So, we simply put them away in the stock room.”

Terry has a further £2,000 to raise yet. “Please come and say hello if you are in York, pick up a book and put a few coins in the cans. The table will be outside the gallery from about 11am every day, except Sunday, until December2.”

Should Pyramid Gallery reopen on December 3, the shop will accommodate two groups at a time, with a maximum of six people.

The book cover for Good Rabbits Gone, Terry Brett’s compendium of cartoon farewells, “scribbled” under the name of Bertt deBaldock and now published to raise funds for St Leonard’s Hospice, York

“We will have an extended-hours booking system on the front page of our website at pyramidgallery.com. Private viewings for one or two groups of two may be booked early on each day.” says Terry.

“Or, after normal hours between 10am and 5pm, customers will be able to enter the shop with a maximum of two groups or a total of six people in at any one time. You will be able to book a half-hour slot, so that you can browse at leisure in the gallery.”

In the meantime, Terry is offering a Click and Collect service, “Or you can just collect if you don’t like to click,” he says. “For this, please phone on 01904 641187 or 07805 029254, to let me know what you are interested in, and I will gather items together to show you at the door. We can manage a selection and purchase without you needing to actually come in!”

Reflecting on a running a gallery in a year in the grip of the Coronavirus pandemic, Terry says: “Pyramid reopened to the public at the end of June. During June, the website worked well for us and July and August were reasonably good with sales over the counter, but about 20 per cent below normal.

“I took half the staff out of furlough in September and October and this meant that we really needed to be back to normal sales level. We achieved that in October and sales have continued to meet normal targets since.

“Even with the new lockdown, the gallery closed and all staff back in furlough, I seem to be getting enough online sales to keep afloat.”

However, Terry paints a grim portrait of the impact of Covid lockdowns. “I think that York will see a lot of businesses close due to this current lockdown. Nevertheless, because I’m able to work the business completely on my own, I can reduce overheads to a minimum and still survive. The only real problem is that I’m working 12 hours a day!

“I look forward to having my staff back on December 3, but if lockdown measures were to be extended beyond December 2, then I’m not sure if any city-centre shops could survive. We normally have sales in the three weeks up to Christmas that are equivalent to June, July and August sales combined.”

Thankfully, the Government is on the brink of announcing when “”non-essential” shops can re-open.

NEWSFLASH

Pyramid Gallery WILL reopen on December 3 at 10am.

How saying farewell to David Bowie in rabbit form set scribbler Terry Brett on his way to penning cartoon book for hospice UPDATED 24/11/2020

Bertt deBaldock’s first #GoodRabbitGone: David Bowie

PYRAMID Gallery owner Terry Brett has set a target of £3,000 to raise for St Leonard’s Hospice, in York, with his book of self-penned cartoons of celebrity memorials, portrayed as rabbits.

While his shop in Stonegate, York, has been closed for the second lockdown, Terry has placed his books and a collecting tin on a table outside. “To help things along, I’ve been putting framed pictures and small craft gifts on there that can be taken away for free or a small donation,” he says.

“So far, after three weeks of collecting, including donations via Just Giving, I’ve raised more than £700 for the hospice.”

It all began with the exit stage left of David Bowie on January 10 2016, the day the music died in a year when it died again and again and again. Prince, Leonard Cohen, George Michael on Christmas Day.

Bertt appropriates a prop comedic effect from Acorn Antiques for his goodbye to Victoria Wood

“I had to do something when I heard about Bowie’s death. So I drew him as a rabbit. Bertt x,” explains the introduction to Good Rabbits Gone, a cartoon compendium of death notices for “inspiring individuals, all of them ‘one in a million’, who passed into their own preferred alternative dimension during the years between 2016 and January 2020.”

Bertt deBaldock is the nom de scribble of Terry Brett, colour-blind artist, ukulele player, long-ago chartered surveyor and now long-running proprietor of Pyramid Gallery, in Stonegate, York, whose book is available in a limited-edition print run of 300 copies.

Why rabbits, you may be asking. “I grew up surrounded by fields that were full of hares and rabbits,” says Terry. “The hares are very proud and confident creatures, but rabbits are extremely vulnerable. They are more successful than hares, because they are constantly on the look-out for trouble. Nice that the meekest creature on the planet is also one of the most prolific and content.

Pyramid Gallery owner and curator Terry Brett, aka cartoon scribbler Bertt deBaldock, with a stand of his Good Rabbits Gone books outside his shop in Stonegate, York

“The cartoon image was inspired by my two daughters’ pet rabbit that I looked after. I’ve been drawing a cartoon of that rabbit in a comic-style Christmas card for 25 years. When Bowie died in 2016, I drew the rabbit with a lightning flash [from the Aladdin Sane album cover], just as a way of acknowledging the man. Then I put it on Twitter and it started an obsession!”

That very first #GoodRabbitGone read: “Ground control to Major Tom, There’s something wrong! 10 January 2016, age 69. The man who sold the world”. “Bowie was such a vulnerable young man trying to find his way as a performance artist who fortuitously discovered he could write brilliant songs and re-invent pop music to express himself,” says Terry.

“I think he struggled with the stardom and hid behind invented personas. But in the end, he became himself again – and really quite nice. We all do this. Even Donald Trump might! (Though he probably hasn’t got enough decades left to do so).

In each cartoon valedictory, “drawn in a rush at the time of passing” for publishing on Twitter and Facebook, the wording and imagery feed off each other: affirmation of how we recollect both visually and verbally.

Firestarter extinguished: Bertt’s farewell to The Prodigy’s Keith Flint

““His invented personas were an important part of his act; that’s why it felt good to draw an image of Bowie on the day he died. On later Good Rabbits, I started to try and capture the subject’s face and character,” says Terry.

“I find great satisfaction in the process of reading up about the individual and then trying to capture the character. The words chosen to go with the cartoon become important later, to add humour or some sort of gravitas.

“I’m trying to express some sort of reason as to why that individual gained notoriety. It’s not always easy, but in the process of finding importance I become quite attached to the character. If I cannot find something that feels important, I wait until an image comes that amuses me.”

2016 turned into the annus horribilis of impactful deaths: Sir George Martin; Sir Terry Wogan; Ronnie Corbett; Victoria Wood; Muhammad Ali, the knock-outs kept coming. Was it a pure coincidence that Terry started the series that year?

And finally: Bertt responds to the news of the passing of newsreader Richard Baker

“It was because Bowie’s death moved me,” he says. “I also learnt to play and sing The Man Who Sold The World on my ukulele on the same day, which I played at our band rehearsal that evening.

“This was the year that I turned 60. I was quite shocked that someone who had been such an important part of my culture had died in his sixties. When you are 50-something, old age seems decades away. At 60, you suddenly wonder ‘where did the previous decade go?’”

Bertt’s 2016 list took in R.I.P. America, 8 November 2016, The Day They Elected To Trump. “I have a general rule, not to do politicians or make political comment. I am apolitical, as is this rabbit,” he wrote. “However, I felt so sad to witness this day. It felt like morality and fairness had been washed away.”

Terry says: “I’m naturally inclined to think of myself as left of centre and last year I joined the Green Party for the first time, just to encourage them. I’ve been an environmental campaigner since the 1980s, when I was on the Greenpeace payroll as a fundraising coordinator.

“I felt very sad to see Trump elected as president, so I drew the flag as a rabbit, with all the stars sliding off,” says Terry, recalling his reaction on November 8 2016

“Having said that, I was born into a very right-wing society and have respect for the views of many people I know who have right-wing views. To me, party politics are a distraction from the main issues such as respect, kindness, fairness and love for one another.”

Trump’s election resulted from left and right arguing between themselves about ideology, suggests Terry. “They should be more focused on core values and they would find that they want the same thing, which is the respect of others,” he argues.

“Trump’s objectionable behaviour and the pedalling of false opinions stirred up a crazed following that has been very detrimental to society in the USA and here in the UK. I felt very sad to see Trump elected as president, so I drew the flag as a rabbit, with all the stars sliding off.”

Terry used to keep a list of deaths through the year, writing them down in a notebook by the side of his bed while listening to Today on BBC Radio 4. “But the internet has made me a bit lazy; it’s so easy to look them up now!” he says.

Terry Brett holds a copy of Bertt deBaldock’s cartoon book, compiled in aid of St Leonard’s Hospice

Good Rabbits Gone Volume One In A Million takes in, for example, Sir Roger Moore (Shaken: 14 October 1927; Not Stirred: 23 May 2017), Sir Ken Dodd (Tickled to death 11 March 2018) The Prodigy’s Keith “Firestarter” Flint (Sparked: 17 September 1969; Snuffed: 4 March 2019). Note the witty yet poignant wording each time.

“When I draw the cartoon, I scribble a few words that come to mind. Later, I started to put them in the book and erased the original words,” says Terry. “I started to think of synonyms for ‘birth’ and ‘death’ that were appropriate to the individual – maybe a line from a song lyric or song title.

“In the case of barcode inventor Norman Joseph Woodland – my favourite of all in a late addition to the book – I wrote ‘Barcoded Sep 6 1921’ and ‘Beeped December 9 2012’. I like to imagine him reading it and laughing.”

What qualities make someone qualify at Bertt’s pearly gates for a memorial testimonial? Cultural icons? Influences on Terry’s life? His book shelves? “I need to feel a response and I need to feel stirred to make the effort to draw something,” he says. “I miss quite a lot of people and later feel I should have included them.

Terry Brett’s favourite: Bertt’s check-out to barcode inventor Norman Joseph Woodland

“So, the first quality is probably their notoriety, then I start to look at what they actually did. Some of these people I knew nothing about until they died. And there are two, Bryan ‘Yogi B’ Smith, my yoga teacher, and Don Walls, a wonderful poet, who were important to me in York but not at all famous.” 

Volume 2 is taking shape through 2020. “A few of my favourites are Vera Lynn, with a Spitfire and Hurricane flying over the white cliffs of Dover; Tim Brooke-Taylor; Terry Jones, as a naked rabbit playing the piano with the phrase ‘And Now For Something Completely Different’; Nobby Stiles, holding the World Cup in one hand and his false teeth in the other,” says Terry.

“There’s Toots Hibbert, the first musician to use the word ‘Reggay’ (sic); guitarist Julian Bream (Picked 15 July 1933; Plucked 14 August 2020); Peter Green, of Fleetwood Mac; actress Olivia de Havilland (Gone with the Wind)…

“…Supreme Court Judge and women’s rights campaigner Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Honor Blackman; Julie Felix; composer Ennio Morricone, entangled in spaghetti; the astronomer Heather Couper, and Beatles photographer Astrid Kirchherr.”

Gone Western: RIP composer Ennio Morricone, as recorded by Bertt

Terry finished the book in Lockdown 1 but the pandemic has prevented him from holding a proper launch at Pyramid Gallery. Instead, copies are available by emailing pyramidgallery.com or ringing 01904 641187, as well as from the table outside Pyramid Gallery. A suggested donation of £10 should be made to St Leonard’s Hospice at justgiving.com/fundraising/terry-brett5.

“It’s going well and it’s wonderful to be able to chat to people about it,” says Terry. “So, thank you for donating to a wonderful hospice that could not exist without public support.”

Terry’s father, Maurice Brett, founder of Stevenage Flying Club, died of prostate cancer in 2002. “He checked himself into a hospice only 24 hours before he died. I don’t think he could come to terms with it until he went to the hospice,” he says.

Olivia de Havilland has gone, as depicted by Bertt

“He was working on a magazine article about a vintage aeroplane three days prior to that. Going to the hospice gave him control and was a way of making the decision to let himself die. Hospices give the terminally ill dignity. They are run independently from the NHS and rely on fundraising. I hope they are still around when my time comes!”

Contemplating what gravestone humour may lie n store for Terry himself, he says: “Mine could say…something like ‘Borrowed a pencil: 19 April 1956; Burrowed with a pencil: ….,’ but I’ve always been a really bad time-keeper, so I think it should be ‘Late Again’.”

Covid-19 2020 has been a year of vulnerability, fretful uncertainty of both present and future and an increased awareness of death, making Good Rabbits Gone all the more pertinent.

“We’re all having to come to terms with our mortality,” says Terry. “Mine was the first generation in human history to be able to expect to live to over 60. Maybe that was a short-lived expectation. I hope not though!” 

The front cover of Good Rabbits Gone, Volume One In A Million, as “scribbled” by Terry Brett’s artist alter ego Bertt deBaldock

Should you be wondering No 1.

Why use the name Bertt deBaldock?

“A particular friend in my youth always called me ‘Bertt’ and I was born in Baldock, well, a mile away in a tiny hamlet called Bygrave, in north Hertfordshire,” explains Terry.

“I use the French preposition ‘de’ in the same way that it is used in the name ‘DeBrett’s’, which is basically a list of the most influential people, many of whom are deceased or about to be.”

Valedictory to Vera: Bertt’s last note for Vera Lynn

Should you be wondering No. 2

How does colour-blindness affect you in your artistic work, Terry?

“I’m red/green colour-blind…a bit of a handicap for anyone involved in the arts.  I prefer to call it ‘colour confusion’,” he says.

“I can actually see all colours, but sometimes one confuses another. I can tell green from brown, but sometimes get them mixed up.”