Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Here we are in Chichester, my birthplace. At risk of sounding like the Tourist Board, it’s got a hell of a lot going for it. Aside from the cathedral, the beautiful old cross in the centre, the fine Georgian houses, parks and all that, recent years have seen it become quite a cultural centre. The festival every summer used to rely on its celebrated Festival Theatre (where, bizarrely, Tangerine Dream made their UK concert debut in 1974) - this year it's Rupert Everett in Pygmalion, 42nd Street and a Stoppard/Sheridan double bill amongst others - but there’s more...

One of the most surprising successes is its International Film Festival, run on a shoestring from New Park Community Centre which is as small and unglamorous as it sounds. This year they’re showing tons of great stuff including the UK premieres of Dagenham and The Kid, lots of new European films like The Illusionist, The Girl Who Played with Fire, Coco and Igor, tributes to Kurosawa, Rohmer and Jean Simmons; Mexican Surrealist Cinema, an open air screening of My Fair Lady and loads more. Hats off to them.

Then there’s Pallant House which houses one of the best collections of British modern art in the world and is currently showing Surreal Friends: Leonara Carrington, Remedios Varo and Kati Horna – much of it based on the collection of the Surrealist patron, Edward James who lived near Chichester. And this summer will mark the debut of Vintage at Goodwood founded by fashionistas Red or Dead, who now live nearby, and featuring music, art and fashion themed by decade from the 1940s to now. And right in the centre of town they're building a new museum.

When I was in my teens, there was nothing like this going on. It didn't even have a cinema.

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