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

Following W.G Sebald’s Austerlitz through the East End

Austerlitz walk – Liverpool Street to Mile End

A walk following the route taken by W.G Sebald through the East End of London when writing his acclaimed novel Austerlitz, in the company of artist Bob and Roberta Smith. The central character of the book, Jacques Austerlitz arrived in England at Liverpool Street Station as a young child on the Kindertransport from Czechoslovakia just before the outbreak of the Second World War. The station plays an important role in the book and was where our walk started. The route was provided to Bob and I by writer Iain Sinclair who had re-traced Sebald’s footsteps guided by poet Stephen Watts who had led Sebald on his East End drifts. An evocative account of these walks can be found in Iain’s wonderful book The Last London.

Our walk ended in the gloom of Tower Hamlets Cemetery, unable to find the stone angel pictured in Sebald’s book.

The key locations are: – The Great Eastern Hotel, Liverpool Street Station, Toynbee Hall, Greatorex Street (home of Yiddish poet Abraham Stencl), Brady Street Jewish Cemetery, Alderney Road, Tower Hamlets Cemetery, St. Clement’s Hospital (site of).

Talking about Walking & Sebald’s Austerlitz on Resonance FM

It was a great pleasure to go on Bob and Roberta Smith’s Make Your Own Damn Music Show on the brilliant Resonance FM last night where we talked about the recent walk we did following the footsteps of W.G Sebald in his celebrated book Austerlitz.

The Sebald chat starts at about 35 minutes in and includes some contentious opinions on echoes in the book with Patrick Keiller’s early photographic work. The show also features a fascinating interview with Curator and Art Writer William Corwin.

The video of this walk will be on my YouTube channel soon.

I would also love to hear from anyone interested in participating in my Kensal Rise project for Brent 2020 – please email me via the contact form on this blog or leave a comment. Thanks.

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.

The Resonance Radio Orchestra (2009)

Last night reading The Wire magazine in the pub, I recognised a face (and some names) in a fascinating article about London Improvisers Orchestra. The face (and beard) was that of Ivor Kallin, who I realised had been part of the Resonance Radio Orchestra I’d filmed at the opening night of Bob and Roberta Smith’s Factory Outlet show at Beaconsfield Gallery, Vauxhall in November 2009. This was one of the early shoots for my documentary about Bob, Make Your Own Damn Art – the world of Bob and Roberta Smith – that I continued working on for 3 years in total.

So this morning I excavated a hard-drive from my archives and sought out the footage from that night and hastily threw together this edit, raw from the camera. Again I recognised faces in the audience of people I would meet again over the course of making the documentary and beyond. Although it was a film about art, the original music by Bob and Roberta Smith, The Ken Ardley Playboys (also filmed the same night), and The Apathy Band, played a large role in the finished film. Very little of the Resonance Radio Orchestra footage was used in the end so it’s great to have an occasion to share it now.

The Resonance Radio Orchestra in this clip are: Fari Bradley, Ivor Kallin, Simon King, Chris Weaver, Ben Polehill.


More info about the essential Resonance 104.4fm here

London Improvisers Orchestra is celebrating its 20th anniversary at Cafe Oto main and Project spaces with free workshops (1, 2, 3 December, 2-4PM), open rehearsals (2, 3 December 5-7.30PM) and two concerts (2, 3 December 8.30PM).



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