The ArgusArtist is inspired by tower block (From The Argus)

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Archive - Saturday, 6 August 2005

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Artist is inspired by tower block

A former seafront eyesore has become the unlikely subject of a concept album after a renowned artist fell in love with it.

Award-winning South Bank Show director and digital artist Chris Dooks was browsing through Brighton landmarks on the internet while preparing a lecture at the University of Sussex when he came across a web site about Embassy Court.

He said: "Like many other people I fell in love with the building."

Mr Dooks, 34, from Edinburgh, contacted Embassy Court's management company and was invited to become the building's artist-in-residence.

He has been living at Embassy Court throughout the two-week project.

The title, As Ruby's Comet, is an anagram of Embassy Court, as is the name of the EP, Sycamore Tubs, and all four songs - A Yes To Crumbs, A Mob Curtseys, Come, Buy, Stars and Tomb Uses a Cry.

Mr Dooks has a record deal in France creating electronic music under the name Bovine Life and Sycamore Tubs is his first experiment with folk music.

He wrote the four songs in a few days and loitered in the Sanctuary Caf in Brunswick Street East, Brighton, to urge musicians to help record them.

Mr Dooks was helped by Mark Trefell and Jason Pegg from the band Clearlake and recorded the EP in under a week.

He describes the songs as "humorous but melancholy" and they focus on the building's history, from a playground to the stars such as Diana Dors and Laurence Olivier to its descent into a hang-out for drug addicts in the Nineties.

One of the songs turns the peace statue on the seafront into the symbolic guardian angel of Embassy Court.

Mr Dooks said: "The project was a bit of a Challenge Anneka-style race against the clock."

Emma Jinks, chairwoman of residents' company Bluestorm, which is progressing with the second stage of the £5 million revamp, said: "Embassy Court has stood on the periphery of the artists' community for so long and it's an exciting step to get properly involved now.

"We couldn't have asked for a better first residency than Chris."

The EP will be released with a live performance of the songs at Vive Moderne, the celebration day at Embassy Court on September 3, to mark the end of the first phase of restoration.



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