Helen Kaminsky

Helen Margaret Kaminsky

Mixed Media Art – on display until Saturday 27th April 2019.

Helen is a self-taught, flourishing mixed media artist whose diversity appeals to a wide audience of individuals.  She has completed many commissioned pieces and has become of high interest to a multitude of art collectors locally and internationally.  Helen is a member of a number of art societies based in the North West, including Incubation Arts, and has recently joined the Vale Artists Co-operative in Congleton, Cheshire, where she shares a studio with four other artisans.

Quality in her work is ensured throughout every step of the artistic process from creation to delivery.

Artist’s Statement

My work has evolved through various experiments and techniques, from photo transfer, mixed media, collage and encaustic. I love the challenges and excitement of work with different mediums, changing the style to suit the subject and the effects that I want to create. This versatility gives each piece its own mystique.

I have developed my style to interact with the observer as I like to keep a sense of mystery within my paintings, for the interpretation to change with each viewer’s own imagination.  This way the painting will always be a source of creative visualisation, changing over time with the shifting thought processes.

The synergies of these techniques combine to establish an intuitive, original and diverse portfolio.



FB:                        HMK@valeartists


Mobile:                07896 869528

Rodney Branigan and the Deadbeat Damsels

‘First Class US import’ Rodney Branigan, supported by local live music scene stalwarts the Deadbeat Damsels, brought his unique brand of ‘Full Contact Folk Music’ to an intimate seated gig at the Foxlowe Arts Centre on Saturday the 9th of March, 2019.

First up onstage were the Deadbeat Damsels, featuring Jill Povey on Guitar and Vocals, Alison Savigar on Vocals, and John Crimes on Percussion (no Steve Giddings on Lead Guitar this time round), and playing a mixture of Americana, (Alt) Country and Country Rock, old & contemporary, with strong voices and beautiful harmonies. Cover versions on the night included tracks from First Aid Kit, and Ward Thomas amongst others. Playing the Foxlowe for the first time – the Deadbeat Damsels are more used to performing in the pubs in and around Leek – we’re sure that we’ll see them onstage here again in the near future.

Featuring a percussive dual guitar sound – ‘One Man, Two Guitars’ – aided by pedals and sample loops, Rodney Branigan performs an original and virtuoso blend of progressive folk, rock, flamenco, classic, bluegrass and jazz guitar (and mandolin, when it stays in tune), mixed with stories from the High Plains of Texas, anecdotes and dirty jokes – all of which he calls ‘Full Contact Folk Music’.

Rodney takes the stage, and after greeting the audience launches straight into his trademark dual guitar attack on his song “about schizophrenia” – Schizophrenia – “just to get it out of the way early”. An hour and a half long set features covers of Creep by Radiohead, The Way You Move by Outkast, and Come Together by The Beatles, as well as Rodney’s own material, including the evocative and moving paean to trying to grow trees on the High Plains of Texas, One Seed, and Devil’s Delight (which he dedicates to his mother, with tongue in cheek), as well as incendiary instrumentals and his shortest song of the night – an accapella paean as to why you shouldn’t leave your vinyl records out in the sun!

Highlights included tales of trashing expensive guitars and trying and failing to get his money back from the manufacturer; innuendos and British expressions for solitary pursuits; the relative merits of George W Bush compared to Donald Trump and the former’s attempts to replace sex education in American schools with an ‘Abstinence Programme’; a dirty joke about two divorcees meeting in a bar; his relatively clean-living lifestyle these days and applying for permanent UK citizenship; why his merchandise stand only had Rodney Branigan tea towels on it; whether or not Leek has any hip hop fans; and his risky and potentially life-threatening act of dual guitar showmanship that has previously left him unconscious twice and with facial injuries needing stiches, prompting the use of motorcycle googles on previous occasions! Rodney, for reasons best known to himself and not made clear to the audience, performs the stunt with one jean trouserleg rolled up and a wink to the audience (perhaps the act of rolling up his trouserleg sets him up mentally, only Rodney himself can say), before hammering his dual guitars so hard that three of the strings break on one of them and then twirling one of the guitars around his head and sitting down in one connected blur of motion, all without missing a note! We saw Kris Barras play his guitar behind his head and with his teeth, Jimi Hendrix style, a couple of weeks back; but Rodney’s act of guitar showmanship was all the more impressive because of the potential – and actual, in previous performances – level of jeopardy and risk of bodily injury! Thankfully, everything went OK this time. Phew.

As ever, both acts who played on the night and the Foxlowe thank everyone who came out to support live music in Leek, and we look forward to seeing you at the Foxlowe again soon for upcoming gigs.

The Deadbeat Damsels at Foxlowe Arts Centre

The Deadbeat Damsels at Foxlowe Arts Centre

Rodney Branigan at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

Rodney Branigan at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

Rodney Branigan at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

Rodney Branigan at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

Rodney Branigan at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

Rodney Branigan at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

Rodney Branigan at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

All photos by Giles Metcalfe.

Fox & Crow Gallery

A NEW creative venture has opened within the Foxlowe Arts Centre.

The Fox & Crow Gallery opened its doors in February in the Cruso Room at the Foxlowe Arts Centre. The new and exciting venture is being run by four local established artists: Sarah Taylor Studio, Cathey Yardley Design, Sarah Jayne Art and Chris Mayhew Photo Art. They are not only displaying and selling their own work, but also creations by more than 20 other local artists.

Cathey and Sarah Jayne studied, or are in the process of studying, for their BA Honours at Leek School of Art College (Buxton & Leek College) whereas Sarah Taylor completed her BA Honours at Staffordshire University. They have participated in many exhibitions and events locally selling their artwork and therefore are well known by the residents of Leek for their creative work already.

Their work consists of fused glass, textiles and photography, silver jewellery, watercolours plus felt illustrations and printmaking to create designs from local surroundings onto ceramics and giftware.

Chris is now revisiting his love of photography after a long career in engineering, looking to create an ‘illogical and chaotic viewpoint’ through Photo Art.

Other creations on display at the Fox & Crow, which are by a host of local creatives, include a mixture of paintings, handmade ceramics, linocut and dry point etchings, wire artwork, animal portraits in watercolours and charcoals, plus some wonderful textile art and accessories.

The gallery is not only selling actual artwork, but gifts created by them to suit individual tastes and pockets. The gallery owners aim to make artwork affordable and accessible at the same time as promoting local artists and designers.

The Fox & Crow is open from Monday to Saturday from 10am until 4pm and every first Sunday of the month between 10am and 3pm.

For further details go online to

Gemma Ray and Thomas Truax

Gemma Ray, plus band, and Thomas Truax, plus Hornicator and Mother Superior drum machine, played the Foxlowe Arts Centre on Friday the 1st of March. Following a whistlestop tour of Continental Europe, both artists recently hit England for a series of gigs at a select few venues, including the Foxlowe and the Hebden Bridge Trades Club.

Co-headlining and swapping the running order each night, Thomas Truax was onstage first (and frequently offstage, and outside as part of the performance). A quirky and eccentric mix of storyteller, inventor, performer and recording artist Thomas Truax, who travels the world with his collection of self-made instruments including his legendary ‘Hornicator’ and ‘The Stringaling’, supported Bob Log III at the Foxlowe previously before co-headlining with Gemma Ray this time around.

Mixing electro-acoustic steel guitar and live rhythm loops, plus percussion sounds coaxed from his Dr Seuss meets steam punk meets Heath Robinson-esque “drum machine”, called ‘Mother Superior’, Thomas Truax gradually builds up a magical and hypnotic sound over which he narrates tales about “about clones, butterflies, dogs, technology, loneliness, and other beautiful and sad things”. Further assorted homemade instruments, contraptions and gizmos, including ‘The Hornicator’, which is constructed from the shell of a junk gramophone horn, are utilised to create Thomas’ sound, and strings, springs and attached noisemakers on the afore-mentioned gizmos are plucked and set in motion too.

Thomas doesn’t confine his eccentric but captivating performance to the stage either, as he frequently wanders into the crowd whilst playing, and even goes outside the venue during ‘Full Moon Over Wowtown’, leaving the audience guessing as to which door he’ll reappear through or even if he’ll come back at all (hint – he always does). Wowtown is a surreal place from which some of the characters and events in Thomas’s songs originate, and fans of his music (or even just fans of the bizzarre and David Lynchian Americana) can subscribe to The Wowtown News, an email newsletter that he sends to a long list of email subscribers (GDPR rules may or may not apply in Wowtown).

Hailing from Essex but via Berlin, Gemma Ray and her band followed Thomas onstage for the second half of the co-headlining show.

Gemma Ray inhabits a similarly David Lynchian Americana audio world, with a woozy, hypnotic but unsettling mixture of Peggy Lee with Link Wray and Dick Dale-esque surf guitar (an accomplished and in-demand guitarist, Gemma plays with a wicked-looking kitchen knife at times, used as a slide running up and down the fretboard, and lodged behind the rear pickup on her guitar when not in use). Her and her band’s sound is akin to staring at a Blue Moon whilst underwater in the Pacific Ocean, sometime between the late 50s and early 60s, or the surfer from Crystal Voyager going under one too many times to the accompaniment of the Pink Floyd soundtrack. Both retro and yet contemporary, Gemma Ray and her band bewitch and beguile and ever so slightly unsettle (I’m reminded of that large kitchen knife again at this point!).

Eight album, called Psychogeology, is out now, and has been described by Gemma as ‘an ode to the majesty of landscape, the enormity of nature and time, and the inevitability of every human life eventually forming a minuscule part of further landscapes’. Music News states in their Psychogeology album review:

“This out-look has been honed from extensive global travelling and where [the Situationist concept of] ‘psychogeography’ is the seeking of a wandering un/subconscious resonance garnered from ‘urban’ areas, Ray goes ‘rural’, discovering a broader, wider, more expressive and expansive feeling of nature’s rhythms and tangents more attuned to the body’s inner torrents: the art of wandering in tandem with the art of wondering. ”

The review also references surf guitarists Dick Dale and Link Wray, and elements of Pipeline by The Chantays, and even perhaps ahead of his time but deeply troubled Joe Meek, Peggy Lee, the epic soundscapes of Pink Floyd, and all-girl groups like the Shirelles and Shangri-Las and torch singing chanteuses Billie Holiday and Julee Cruise could also be said to be part of the sonic mix.

The show finished with Thomas joining Gemma on stage to duet on a couple of songs, reinforcing the meeting of minds and bond between the two artists.

The Foxlowe thanks everyone who came out to the show, as did both Thomas and Gemma on the night, and we look forward to welcoming them back again in the future.

Thomas Truax at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

Thomas Truax at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

Thomas Truax at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

Thomas Truax at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

Gemma Ray at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

Gemma Ray at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

Gemma Ray and Thomas Truax at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

Gemma Ray and Thomas Truax at the Foxlowe Arts Centre

All photos by Giles Metcalfe.



ST13 Mar-Apr 2019

An on-line copy of ST13 (No 56) is now available.

Follow the links for the full text:

ST13 Mar-Apr 2019 PAGE 1

ST13 Mar-Apr 2019 PAGE 2

ST13 Mar-Apr 2019 PAGE 3

ST13 Mar-Apr 2019 PAGE 4

Kris Barras Band and the Jack J Hutchinson Band rock the Foxlowe

The Kris Barras Band and the Jack J Hutchinson Band rocked a sold out, hot and sweaty Foxlowe Arts Centre last night.

The Jack J Hutchinson Band have supported the mighty Kris Barras Band on their Winter 2019 UK tour, throughout January and February.

Jack J Hutchinson is a British blues rock guitarist, based in London. The Jack J Hutchinson Band features: Jack J Hutchinson (vocals and guitar), Felipe Amorim (drums) and Lazarus Michaelides (bass).

The band, along with Stuart Moir and Alberto Manuzzi, are working on the follow-up to their critically acclaimed album ‘Paint No Fiction’. The record, with artwork designed by long time collaborator Aaron Gardner, is scheduled for release in the summer. Hutchinson has stated: “Most of the material has come together whilst on the road over the last 10 months or so. Whereas my previous record was written mainly at home with an acoustic guitar, a lot of the new songs came together in sound checks and in hotel rooms jamming on my electric. So, unsurprisingly, it feels like a much heavier album with a lot of movement.”

Some of that new material was played during the set last night, along with tracks from his critically acclaimed album ‘Paint No Fiction’ and a frenetic cover of ‘Oh Well, Part 1’ by Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, and was well-recieved by the enthuiastic 250+ sell-out crowd of blues, southern rock and classic rock fans.

The Kris Barras Band followed the Jack J Hutchinson Band, and played a trademark blistering set that featured classic rock and heavy blues guitar and “soul-wrenching melodies“, along with bravura displays of Jimi Hendrix-esque showmanship (including playing the guitar behind his head, and with his teeth) mixed with a swirling Hammond organ and keyboard sound, pounding drums and heavy bass.

The set featured ‘Watching Over Me’, a song written for his late father who had inspired him to pick up the guitar when he was 6. As a musician himself, he had played bass in Kris’s band. Kris’ father lost his battle with cancer a few years ago. The spoken introduction to the song and the emotional delivery was a touching tribute and touched everyone in the audience I’m sure.

The Kris Barras Band members are: Kris Barras – Lead vocals/guitar, Josiah J Manning – keys, Elliott Blacker – bass, and Will Beavis – drums.

From the Kris Barras Band website bio page:

“Inspired by his father at the early age of only Six years-old, Kris was already making an appearance on stage before turning Ten. He has since gone on to spend more than twenty years thrilling audiences throughout the globe playing live.

“The band have appeared at major festivals throughout the UK and Europe. These include Ramblin’ Man Fair (UK), Rawa Blues Festival (Poland) and Bliuzo Naktys (Lithuania). 2017 saw the band complete two very successful tours in both the UK and Europe with 2018 lining up much more of the same.

“In April 2018, it was announced that Kris would become the new frontman for USA super-group, Supersonic Blues Machine.The band feature’s legendary artists such as ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Steve Lukather (Toto), Eric Gales, Warren Haynes (Gov’t Mule) and Walter Trout.

“Kris was nominated for ‘Blues Guitarist of the Year 2017’ by Total Guitar magazine and voted into the Top 15 Blues Guitarists in the World by Music Radar.

“‘The Divine and Dirty’ album was released in March 2018 and went in straight at number one in both the Amazon and iTunes Blues charts as well as Number 3 in the Official UK Blues/Jazz Charts, where it remained in the top 30 for 12 weeks. The album also reached the UK top 40 on Amazon for all music; the only blues-based band in that chart at the time.”

Jack J Hutchinson Band - Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek

Jack J Hutchinson Band - Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek

Kris Barras Band - Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek

Kris Barras Band - Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek

Kris Barras Band - Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek

Kris Barras Band - Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek

Kris Barras Band - Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek

All photos by Giles Metcalfe.

Early Sell Out Triggers a Second Screening for Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody (12A) – Second Screening


Peterloo and Bohemian Rhapsody Tickets Selling Out Fast

Tickets for Peterloo and Bohemian Rhapsody are selling out fast, so we recommend you get yours soon.  In light of the bad weather, we’ve moved some more to the online ticketing site, so you can buy them from the comfort of your own screen, although at the time of this posting there are still some available in the Gallery.

Limehouse Lizzy 2019 Tour

Limehouse Lizzy, who continue to keep the spirit of Celtic rock icon Philip Lynott and his band Thin Lizzy alive, are officially one of the hardest working bands in the UK.

Rocking up to a cold and icy Leek on Thursday the 17th of January as part of their 2019 Tour, they played to a packed room of Rock Fans of all ages, including the children and grandchildren of rockers old enough to have seen Thin Lizzy live in the 70s and early 80s.

As their Facebook Page states:

Attention to detail, playful audience interaction and that all important X-factor that leaves you with the feeling of witnessing the real thing have led to their performance being described as “beyond tribute”, by both audience and critics alike.

Returning to the Foxlowe for 2019, the audience were treated to the Celtic influenced tracks like ”Whisky in the Jar” and “Black Rose”, amongst the usual razzamatazz, audience banter and the classic tracks “The Boys are Back in Town”, “Sarah” and many others that we’ve come to expect from one of the most highly rated acts on the tribute circuit.

Limehouse Lizzy 2019

Limehouse Lizzy 2019

Limehouse Lizzy 2019

Photos by Giles Metcalfe

Foxlowe Pixies Come out of Hibernation

The Pixie apples, a late-eating variety, were put away last autumn to hibernate in a cellar, where they get ideal storage conditions (low temperature and humidity).  The plan was to sell them in the cafe when they were fully ripened and ready to eat. NOT MANY LEFT NOW, SO CATCH THEM WHILE THEY’RE STILL YOUNG AND SWEET.

Sadly, their sleep was disrupted when the cellar flooded and they had to be transferred to an attic, which was equally cool but somewhat drier.  This has meant that the Pixies, although perfectly edible, are just a bit wrinkled.

For that reason, we won’t be charging for them, although if anyone wants to make a donation for those they eat, it will be most welcome.