A walk around the town of Ramsgate

Exploring the seaside town of Ramsgate on the Isle of Thanet in Kent

In these dark days of midwinter and Tier 4 Covid restrictions, it’s comforting to look back at this summer walk around Ramsgate with my wife and my sister.

The walk starts in Ellington Road where we talk about the tunnels that run beneath the streets from Ellington Park to the seafront. From here we pass through Vale Square, past Vinyl Head records to Addington Street with the Falstaff Hotel where Wellington plotted tactics during the Napoleonic Wars, and the Queen Charlotte pub. We visit the studio of the artist Bob and Roberta Smith who shows us his paintings of Thamesmead in South East London that he’s currently working on. We also look at Bob’s new book, You Are An Artist, which I took the photographs for.

From Bob’s studio we walk along Paragon Street to Royal Crescent and look at the statue of Vincent Van Gogh in Spencer Square and the house where Van Gogh lived in 1878. We also see the school where Van Gogh taught, at 6 Royal Road, Ramsgate. We descend the steep set of steps known as Jacob’s Ladder to Ramsgate Sailors Church at Ramsgate Royal Harbour. Then we walk around the Royal Harbour to the Harbour Arm.

walk around Ramsgate

From the Harbour we pass the Royal Victoria Pavillion pub we walk up Kent Place and look at the tiles inspired by Pugin, designed by local school children. We follow Wellington Crescent to the Plains of Waterloo where Karl Marx stayed in 1879, before heading to Artillery Road where Marx’s daughter, Jenny Marx lived. Continuing along King Street, was pass the Ravensgate Arms, one of the finest pubs in Ramsgate. We then turn into Ramsgate High Street where the walk ends.


Cathy Rogers, film-maker http://cargocollective.com/cathyrogers

You Are An Artist – new book by Bob and Roberta Smith

I first met artist Bob and Roberta Smith in the summer of 2009 when I approached him to make a documentary about his work, which became the 2012 film, Make Your Own Damn Art – the world of Bob and Roberta Smith. Ten years later I collaborated with Bob again by taking the photos for his book You Are An Artist (we’ve worked together a number of times in the intervening years). And once again it was an enlightening and highly entertaining experience.

The video above is an extract from an Instagram Live broadcast from Bob’s Leytonstone Garden, summer 2020. Bob is reading from a chapter of the book that describes a ‘psychogeographic’ intervention in we did his campaign to unseat Michael Gove in the 2015 General Election. Bob did a painting about his experience of the algorithmic dérive around the streets, car parks and ring roads of Camberley that ended up in Elle Decor. It was a strange experience to see my name in a painting in a stylish interior design magazine.

Images from You Are An Artist by Bob and Roberta Smith

In 2016 we made a video series for Folkestone Triennal called Folkestone Is An Art School where Bob devised a series of online lessons that demonstrated creative principles used by artists. Shooting an editing those videos changed the way I looked at the creative process. Bob has a gift for opening out the often occluded approach to making art. The book You Are An Artist extends this even further in print form and is a must for anyone interested in making or understanding art. Ok, I am a bit biased because I took the photos but once again working on this book changed the way I look at art.

You Are An Artist

Signed copies of You Are An Artist by Bob and Roberta Smith are available from the brilliant Newham Bookshop

Make Your Own Damn Art at Regent Street Cinema

Regent Street Cinema

Q&A – Travis Elborough, John Rogers, Jessica Voosanger, Bob and Roberta Smith

John Rogers

John Rogers and Travis Elborough

Regent Street Cinema

Regent Street Cinema

Q&A – Travis Elborough, John Rogers, Jessica Voosanger, Bob and Roberta Smith


Great evening last Friday at the screening of my documentary about Bob and Roberta Smith, Make Your Own Damn Art at presented by Heavenly Films at Regent Street Cinema. It was a wonderful experience to revisit a film that premiered in 2012 at the East End Film Festival. As Bob commented in the Q&A, it really captured a slice of time, filmed over 3 years between 2009-2012.

Art Assembly

The next day saw another chapter in my collaborations with Bob and his wife, artist Jessica Voorsanger, as we worked together on a slightly bonkers film for Art Assembly this Saturday 23rd November to be screened at The Resurrection of William Morris.

A People’s Manifesto for the Arts

Last Saturday out on the South Bank with artist Bob and Roberta Smith to create ‘A People’s Manifesto for the Arts’ with passing members of the public. Bob had already written his own manifesto that he intended to harangue politicians with but he wanted to gauge what interest there was amongst the public to advocate for the arts during the election campaign.

Bob passionately defends the Arts and Education – seeing Art as central to free expression and a core component of democracy.

“Before we vote in June’s election we must consider what kind of culture we want to live in.”Bob and Roberta Smith, The Guardian

I’ve heard him point out that tyrannical regimes always target Artists and Writers – and this Tory government has aggressively attacked the arts by withdrawing funding and eroding the place of creative subjects in the school curriculum. If your intention is to create a servile nation of worker drones the last thing you want to do is encourage them to think for themselves. Art and Culture requires you to see the world through your own eyes and encourages you to express your own feelings about the world aroud you.

In the 2015 General Election Bob ran for Parliament against Tory Education Secretary, Michael Gove in the ultra safe seat of Surrey Heath. He ran a spirited campaign which provided a great platform to advocate for the Arts and highlight how Gove’s policies had damaged the teaching of Creative subjects in schools.

“Post-Brexit, we face a dissolution of our museums and galleries comparable in its devastation to that visited on England in the 1530s, as philistine politicians slash budgets. Art schools and the arts in schools will be further diminished in a wave of manufactured disdain for so-called elitists.Bob and Roberta Smith, The Guardian

In a post-Brexit Britain the situation for Art, Culture, and Science looks uncertain so Bob’s campaigning is ever more vital.

You can find out more about Vote Art here

Euro Art Happening on the beach at Ramsgate

The other Sunday I took a ride down to Ramsgate to film Bob and Roberta Smith’s EU Referendum inspired art happening on the beach in Ramsgate. Bob installed a large painting on legs in the channel with France behind in the distance – the work baring the statement WE HAVE ONLY GOT EACH OTHER – a phrase used by Bob’s 92-year old mother when they discussed the forthcoming referendum on EU membership.


“No recession of the imagination” – March Against Austerity

The atmosphere at March Against Austerity was positive and enthusiastic – laughing into the gaping jaws of Tory Austerity. I went along with Bob and Roberta Smith with his brilliant ‘Art For All’ painted placard. We soon wound through the crowds assembled outside the Bank of England to find the Arts Emergency bloc where comedian Josie Long supported one end of a banner. Actor Samuel West came over to say a few words, and Green Party Councillor and potential Mayoral candidate Caroline Russell gave a great interview, declaring that “Austerity is economically illiterate’.


Psychogeographical intervention in the General Election

With the General Election looming it seems an apt time to post this video of an psychogeographical intervention I was invited to stage by artist Bob and Roberta Smith in Michael Gove’s Surrey Heath constituency where Bob is challenging him on May 7th.

Employing an algorithmic derive seemed like a good way to unlock hidden aspects of the principle town in the constituency – Camberley. The Situationists had developed the derive as a form of reconnaissance mission for the eventual transformation of everyday life – in this case it would be launching Bob’s election campaign.

psychogeography algorithm

The algorithm (above) that we used, and the overall idea of algorithmic or Generative Psychogeography was developed by Dutch artists Social Fiction who experimented with the process over the Summer of 2001. I’d used these in a psychogeographical remapping of High Wycombe working with my sister throughout 2004-05 to great effect. What would happen in Surrey Heath?

In their essay, Algorithmic Noise as Free Culture: The Hot Summer of Generative Psychogeography 2002, Social Fiction write of the experience, “Participation in a generative psychogeographical experiment forces you to adopt the characteristics of a machine, you are pushed through streets like an object in almost closed loops which are connected by sudden rushes straight forward.”


As the algorithm took us into a series of carparks linked by flytipped alleyways this prediction appeared to be borne out – Camberley was perhaps a perfect ‘generator’ of psychogeography.

The process does come with the warning that, “the algorithm which should be able to produce a walk without navigational friction repeatedly produces more confusion than certainty: the algorithm becomes chaos.” Which certainly seemed to be the case as we crossed and re-crossed roads, and skirted a multi-storey carpark that Bob sketched.


I had stated that we would follow the algorithm for exactly one hour. Our final turn took us off the main road opposite Sandhurst Military Academy and into the carpark behind Argos. And there at the very end of the derive, dead on 1 hour of walking, we found ourselves outside Camberley’s one and only Art Shop. From the chaos the algorithm had produced the perfect conclusion to the exercise.

Vote Bob for More Art