The opposite of Banksy

As UCS grounds staff washed the windows of the Atrium building this week, they eradicated sketches made on the glass by artist Andrew Vass. Vass wasn’t upset, he told an audience of colleagues and students at the Atrium studios tonight: “If you’re too invested in longevity, it can constrain you in making the work.”

His current work is inspired by the urban-industrial texture of Ipswich, such as Park Area 02 which is showing at the Jerwood Space in London as part of the shortlist for the Jerwood Drawing Prize. He likes the urban environment and has no wish to paint pure landscapes. “In Rome I was inspired in a similar way by ruins.”The work is an example of how he finds interesting subjects in pieces of ground, “something below the horizon.” What he makes of them is abstract, a way of capturing the instantaneous physical sensation of the scene.

He’s lately been using the car parks themselves, as well as docks and demolition sites near UCS, as canvases for drawings. Although at an earlier stage in his career he spread large canvases on the sidewalk, in-your-face art, he says “I feel I’ll succeed if I’m the opposite of Banksy – if it disappears into the surface.” Yes indeed – it took me a couple of days to locate the work above on a site along the waterfront. Now they seem to be everywhere. Catch them before they decompose.

UCS Journalism out and about

  • Diana ben-Aaron, course leader for the UCS Journalism programme, will be on Ipswich Community Radio at 10 am, Wednesday, Sept. 26 to talk about the course (see also the refreshed UCS MA Journalism pages) – audio here.
  • Diana and David Gill, professor of archaeological heritage and head of the Division of Humanities at UCS, will be at the press conference for the Lighter at 2 pm the same day at the UCS Waterfront Building, below.
  • Diana will be at the UCS Open Day in the Waterfront Building on Saturday, Sept. 29 from about 10 am to 3 pm, and will give a short presentation at 12 pm in room W419. Come say hello and check out journalism and the other UCS offerings. Other talks during the day are listed here.


The Lighter arrives

You may have noticed a boat on wheels being towed into the Waterfront Building plaza today. This is the Stour Lighter, an example of an 18th and 19th century cargo barge that is being brought back into use for heritage tourism. UCS is hosting the restored boat, dubbed the John Constable after the painter, for a press conference at 2 pm on Wednesday, Sept. 26.

Some facts about lighters:

  • Constable (1776-1837) loved to paint them, most famously in Boat-Building Near Flatford Mill.
  • They ferried mainly coal, corn and bricks up and down rivers. One large lighter could carry enough bricks for two semidetached houses. 
  • Lighters were chained into convoys of two, pulled by a horse. When the towpath gave out, the horse jumped onto the lighter and then jumped back onto the path when it reappeared on one side or the other.
  • As railways took over heavy freight, lighters were put out of business. This one has been idle since 1914 when it was sunk into river mud that preserved it.

The John Constable will run on electric motors rather than horse power when it is relaunched for the public next summer. It was raised in 2010 and restored by the River Stour Trust, the Pioneer Sailing Trust, and the Managing a Masterpiece programme.

Two wheels popular


UCS was the starting point for the 2012 Tour of Britain, with thousands turning out to see Bradley Wiggins in the race just weeks after his Olympics and Tour de France wins. (“Ipswich Goes Wiggy for Wiggo,” I believe one newsstand ad said.) Wiggins dropped out of the tour with a stomach bug after five stages, so it was good for Ipswich to get its stage in early.

The professional Tour of Ipswich was over in a few minutes. Afterwards amateur cyclists in neon-yellow vests cruised the Waterfront and center in a fun ride sponsored by Sky, the backers of Wiggins and Mark Cavendish. It’ll be interesting to see if this burst of cycle fandom can be parlayed into more bike lanes and crossings as the Travel Ipswich road revamp gets underway. Cut-throughs, secure storage, and train travel support are also needed, cyclists say in posts and comments on the Cycle Ipswich blog.

Future bike themed event in the area: Colchester Film Festival’s cycle-in cinema – several films about bikes, with both cycles and their riders welcome at the free screening, Sunday Oct. 7.


Guardian, Telegraph tipping to online

More people now read the Guardian online than read it in print, according to the National Readership Survey as reported by That is, 4.87 million Guardian readers say they only look at the online version, while 4.08 million readers read it wholly or partly on paper. The trend can also be seen at the Daily Telegraph, where online-only readers almost outpaced print readers according to the report. Times readers were more old-school with less than 4 percent of readers bypassing paper for online, but then theTimeshas a paywall.

The figures show that (at least some) quality newspapers actually have the same readership as in 2000, despite dropoffs in print consumption, NRS Chief Executive Mike Ironside told in a separate report. [1] Online-only readers were equivalent to about 20 percent of print readers on average for newspapers, according to the study.

The results were based on a NRS interview survey combined with data on online readership collected by UKOM/Nielsen. The studies didn’t include readers abroad or ask about mobile use on tablets and smartphones – which probably makes the figures meaningless, given the high consumption of news on iPads, oversized Samsung phones and the like.

[1] Because of shared copies and pass-alongs, readership figures are higher than circulation figures. The Audit Bureau of Circulations reports daily circulation of 209,354 copies for the Guardian in July, a 15 percent annual drop and a 47 percent drop in 12 years (compared with 396,534 in early 2000 cited in the Guardian Media Guide 2001). It’s not entirely clear whether those copies had 20 readers each, or whether the readership data were for a longer period than the daily news cycle.