Category Archives: Fashion

Matt Whistler talks Dotty’s Ditties

“I’ve got an exhibition coming up in a coffee record coffee shop just round the corner, dressed as Sir Dot A lot. 

I will be reciting Dotty Ditties, with coffee froth on the end of my nose. Recently I exhibited at the Brighton and Hove Engineerium housed in the Goldstone pump station. The big art extravaganza was to celebrate International Happiness Day and to launch a new well being centre. 

“The Professor of Happiness was there. I had a thoroughly miserable experience. Only jesting, it was clowntastic. In-between art shows I head to Montpelier Crescent, to backspin a hula hoop, to then run alongside with the challenge of diving through the hoop without touching it. 

“My latest two creations are Fender BOT, a Dotty mannequin with a silver fender guitar for a head. Fender Bot can be seen in Brighton’s new Bits On Wall Gallery at 50 Grand Parade. Then there’s Sozzled Bot, which is an upturned Star Wars at Walker, on a Dotty canvass with a gilded frame painted in a metallic blue. Exhibiting destination as yet unknown. 

“I’ve been going to launderettes to do book signings of second hand books, with my Dotty art on the front, this is the best way to not ever have to write a book. My wearable Dotty art is going to be featured at Brighton’s funky retail outlet Popstacular among 20 other great fashion designers. Madonna will be present”. 

Dotty continued to tell me about his DottyVerse and all the other incarnations he has created over the years, some of which include Jah Scooterman, AKA Whistles, Totally Absurd Man, Ro-Bot and Kaptin Avatar. 

Artist Dotty looked up at me with a twinkle in his eye and the most incredible realisation hit me, that I have been interviewing a modern day version of Charlie Chaplin, minus the kid, the dogs, the funny walk, the stick, jacket and hat. I genuinely thought during that one moment of eye contact, that Artist Dotty is one of the clown greats, but not in the poodle balloon sense, more in a art imitating life sense. I suddenly realised how utterly honoured I have been to follow Artist Dotty’s steps over the last few months and that Dotty has phenomenal potential to become a rising star and bag the Netflix series prior to death. 

What I like about Dotty, is his ability to tell you about his art capers and yet be a humble modest guy with total humility. You can tell he’s just about able to discuss his achievements with confidence and isn’t one of those all-singing all-dancing stars and flagrant self publicists who perpetually bangs his own drum.

I wandered over to Artist Dotty and offered to buy him a crate of Prosecco and a jar of expensive Olives, with a free packet of pretzels. He gladly accepted, mounted the Prosecco on his electric scooter then sped over the middle of 7 Dials roundabout. 

What a great guy I thought. He really is an incredible dude. He’s got razzmatazz. I almost felt my kitchen needed an Artist Dotty calendar. I watched him slowly disappear down Montpelier Rd and was just about to head off when he took a u-turn and began to head back towards me. With a rattling crate of Prosecco tied to the foot stand, Dotty once again scootered straight over the middle of the roundabout, to finally stop outside the Small Batch coffee shop. He pulled up his vizor and slowly turned to look at me. What was Dotty going to say, could this be a scoop for a Dotty story ? 

I could barely contain my excitement. In a loud Northern Burnley excitement, Dotty said. 

“You did pay for the coffee didn’t you?” 

Dotty sped off down a different road and I was left thinking. What a guy. 

Artist Dotty finds the world’s largest night sky observatory

Now not a lot of people know this, Artist Dotty says, in his most Michael Caine of accents. Directly above the Seven Dials medical centre on Montpelier Crescent, is the worlds largest night sky observatory. The telescope capabilities are truly phenomenal and being on a hill pinnacle, night-time air pollution is down to an absolute minimum. The telescope has one of the most powerful lenses in the world and the observatory is available to book via the furniture shop near Small Batch coffee.  

For the last month, Artist Dotty has been taking photos via the telescope and running the photos through a kaleidoscopic effect on his computer. Some of the effects are truly stunning and through his art he has uncovered what can only be best described as hidden Gods in the night skies. There have been errors of judgement though, on my first attempt, I thought I had discovered life on Mars and realised I had accidentally zoomed in on a spider suspended from a street lamp near Tesco Express on Dyke Road.  

I was invited to the observatory to watch Artist Dotty identifying the best photo opportunities. The telescope rotates via a remote control and Artist Dotty enjoys listening to Mozart whilst appreciating the night skies. AD said he was inspired by a guy from Rochdale, Lancashire, called David Malin, a British-Australian astronomer and photographer who in his early years started out as a microscopist and found himself becoming a leading astrophotographer, who enjoyed looking at the night sky from the Smitz observatory, in Australia. 

AD says, I first spotted David Malin’s work at the Liverpool museum of art back in the 90’s and was impressed with the way the art world acknowledged his photography as an art form. The images are of Nebulas and star clusters and are very hypnotising and mesmerising. Star gazing is a great way to put life’s struggles into a wider, mind expansive perspective. Certainly one of my tick box’s would be to visit more observatory’s around the world and take more photos. 

A galaxy is named after him – Malin 1, which he discovered in 1986 and is the largest spiral galaxy so far discovered. 

Artist Dotty genuinely believes his digital art, may also be contributing towards scientific research of space elasticity and dimension perception. 

“My results are somewhat beyond comprehension and have blown my own mind, to the point I need to take a break from my latest art obsession, every now and then”.  

The first night sky photo I took, was from a NASA image, on their website and after a touch of kaleidoscopic digital wizardry, I created a symmetrical God, that looked very similar to George Harrison from the Beatles.

I am now wondering if all the critical mass celebrities are hidden amongst the stars.  All of this talk about outer-space is making me want to put on an early Star Trek and admire the great use of Royal Brittanica books on Captain Kirk’s book shelves in his bedroom. 

I have approached NASA with my findings and also suggested having an art gallery on the moon to celebrate the spirit of adventure and discovery.  Anyway after I sent the email to NASA, the most incredible thing happened. I haven’t heard back. But that’s OK, life goes on, if the moon doesn’t come to me, I will go to the moon, just need to find a huge elastic band and someone to hold it. 

There are examples of AD’s works at St Augustine’s church in Brighton, near Preston Park. It’s a healing arts centre, with a Whole Earth food cafe. A great spot to relax and scoffie on a banoffie with a coffee. AD’s work is coming down on the 20th Feb, so if your looking to hedge your bets and make an investment on an emerging Artist, AD is one to look out for. 

AD’s work has also been acknowledged by Castle Fine Art as incredible. They currently represent Billy Connolly. 

Check out Artist Dotty’s latest work at St. Augustine’s Arts & Events Centre, Stanford Ave, Brighton BN1 6EA

Dressmith – Style and Substance

“So I walked past the shop and it was empty. I’ve always loved this shop, the frontage of number 77 because of the curved windows. It looks like an old apothecary and there aren’t enough of these shops left. When I saw it was empty just after lockdown, I stood at the end of the alley and waited for someone to come out of the building, ‘Who can I call?’

I literally had no business plan, you know, but I had around 40 samples which I sold from, plus several rolls of fabric. I also have close friends who are wonderful artists and designers and having wanted to show their work too for some time, I just went for it.”

The Whistler is with Jane the Dressmith, dress designer, fabric lover and owner of the coolest clothes shop in the Dials. 

“I’ve never had a shop, never really wanted to. But I love to this shop. I’ve lived in Vernon Terrace for 22 years, so I’ve been part of the Seven Dials community and seen its rise to… Yeah, that Time Out thing, the top 12 coolest destinations in the country.”

It’s a curious thing, that coolest destinations thing. You know Time Out wasn’t talking about ‘Oh, there’s a really big Co-op’ (he says pointedly). They’re talking about independent shops, individual shops, shops with heart and soul, this is what they’re talking about. They’re talking about Dressmith. 

It’s a beautiuful shop full of beautiful clothes and lovely, lovingly chosen fabrics. It’s been here about a year, and slowly but surely she’s making it exactly as she wants. Everything in the shop is carefully curated, carefully positioned. Well, she’s a designer. It’s what they do. And in the same spirit, because she wanted to get things just right, she made me some notes. 

“Dressmith. Beautifully British. Handmade in England. Ready to wear and utility clothing. Limited edition. Organic collections and sustainable collections made from overstocked fabrics, surplus to the trade. Luxury brand with ecological consciousness” – which is all very well, but it doesn’t give an indication of the passion. Walking around the beautifully designed, beautifully presented shop you just know that there’s a real love here. Wools, linens, cottons… 

And it’s not just hers. There’s art on the walls “they’re by Michael Bishop” – ceramics on the shelves, cards, candlesticks… All made by friends, all part of the same ethos. 

So this is your baby, but it’s a hub for your community as well. “Yes. It’s a Dressmith family, basically. Yeah, that’s what I like to think of it as. 

“Basically, I want this shop to be for everybody. So I get I’m getting gifty things in candles, socks, berets, room diffusers, soaps, tea towels. I want people to be able to come in and buy a card and a gift”.

I was desperate for Dressmith to be her real name – love a bit of nominative determinism – but “No, my real name is Jane De Lacey” which is maybe even better, especially when you consider that before 2014 when she established the dresSmith label, she designed underwear and lounge wear. “I just thought, you know, my initial concept was when you get home, you should put loungewear on you shouldn’t put an old tracksuit on, you should dress up at home. So I made lounge suits”. 

Jane the designer came of age in the mid-1980s and hit the ground running during the heyday of Kensington Market, the New Romantics, Vivienne Westwood, Camden Market, Club For Heroes… 

“I dressed bands like Madness, U2, the  Stranglers. Do you remember that newspaper print suit Madness wore?” Madness were always seriously stylish, but The Stranglers? “Oh, God. Well, I just used to make normal stuff. You know, Jet Black was rather a hefty chap…” 

So a year on, do you enjoy the shop life? “Yes, because I don’t have hundreds of customers, and everyone has been so welcoming. I’m not in the Western Road, I don’t have serious footfall, so I can sit there and get on with designing. My idea has always been I would have a shop that I could work at the back of, and then if somebody comes in then you can help them if they need help. So actually, that’s what I’m doing”.

Dressmith, 77 Dyke Rd, Brighton BN1 3JE