Brighton and Hove Illustrated Alphabet
Early in 2020 I had the idea of the creation of this Illustrated Alphabet, but not until August 2020 I started the actual tasks of planning, researching and drawing.
It has taken me three months to complete. The illustrated alphabet has snippets of the everyday life of Brighton and Hove. I have experimented a lot with the design for each letter.
The alphabet is composed of 26 letters, for each one of them I have carried out a study of technique and composition. During the process I have consulted many friends and particularly good has been the help of my partner Simon.
Description of the designs for each letter. A-Z. Brighton and Hove Illustrated Alphabet
A is for Albion
In 2018 the ‘Seagulls’ made it to the premier league during the 2019–20 season. In 1977 the Seagull badge was introduced and they have remained the Seagulls ever since.
B is for Bandstand
One of the finest in England the bandstand with its decorative arches create the perfect picture frame to the sea and the Brighton and Hove promenade.
The exotic design of the bandstand has been compared to ‘oriental’ buildings such as the Alhambra in Granada and the Alcazar in Seville. The cities where I was born and raised. A home away from home.
C is for Cricket
Sussex County Cricket Club is one of the earliest clubs created in England, its coat of arms shows six martlets. These mythological birds are also part of the coat of arms of Brighton and Hove.
D is for The Dome
This very much loved arts venue was originally built as stables for The Prince Regent. It was renovated as an auditorium by famous architect Robert Atkinson 1934 with a wonderful decorative internal ceiling.
The Dome is currently being extended and renovated to awe new audiences.
E is for Elm trees
This side of the South Downs Natural is one of the few areas where elm trees still can be seen when throughout the UK they were decimated by Dutch Elm Disease. When you see one give it a good hug!
F is for May Festival and Fringe
Two festivals combined form one of the largest cultural events in the UK. Every May the City of Brighton and Hove shines with the lime lights of music, dance, theatre and arts. Leave your diary free!
G is for The Grand Hotel
The beautiful iconic landmark and luxurious destination at Brighton and Hove seafront.
The Grand has been witness to many famous guests, including ABBA who partied in the appropriately named first-floor Napoleon Suite following their 1974 Eurovision Song Contest win with their performance of ‘Waterloo’.
H is for Beach Huts
I like to call them ‘city beach huts’. they are an extension to many home parlours. The place to see, be seen and meet new and old friends.
In my alphabet I have portrayed the beach huts with the Hove Plinth that currently has a sculpture by Jonathan Wright called ‘Constellation Maquette’ that includes key features of Hove such as the Hove Amber Cup, the Hove Ship, the West Blatchington Windmill, the Rampion Wind Turbine, the Cricketer, the Queen Victoria Bust, the Special Effects Cine Camera from 1899/1900, the Elm Tree, the Skateboarder and again the Beach huts.
I is for i-360
The latest addition to the City of Brighton and Hove seafront that continues with the tradition of the Victorian leisure spirit. Escape to the sky with a flight 450ft up to take in Brighton’s best view.
J is for Jubilee Library
This modern building is winner of numerous architectural design awards and in terms of visitor numbers and loans, the library is one of the busiest in England. Come and meet old mythologies covered with old and new embroideries.
K is for Komedia
Winner of the Best Venue in the South of England for comedy, music, cabaret and club nights, home to the Krater Comedy. You can also see alternative cinema or even a Royal Opera transmission.
L is for the North Laine
The North Laine together with the Lanes are the old heart of Brighton and Hove with its shops and restaurants. In my print I show my art studio, it is the top right window. Come and visit!
M is for Brighton Marina
You can reach the marina on the Volk’s Electric Railway that opened in 1883. You will find a place with a vibrant quay with yachts, sailboats, shops and restaurants with the backdrop of the beautiful white chalk cliffs. On Sundays go to the cinema or find a treasure in the Market.
N is for The Naked Bike Ride
Brighton and Hove bares it all every year in support of a sustainable future less dependent on fossil fuels.
O is for Artists Open Houses
Visit homes, buy art from the artists. Every weekend in May and before Christmas come rain or shine Artists Open Houses Festival is the most friendly event in the UK.
I have proudly participated in it since 2013. Life is art and lives at home!
P is for Pride
Mix your colours together at Brighton Pride . Brighton and Hove celebrates social advances and shout for injustices in the UK most popular LGBTQ+ family and friends street party.
Q is for Quadrophenia
Legendary nineteen-sixties Mods and Rockers against the soundtrack of The Who’s 1973 album under this very name.
R is for Rampion Wind Farm
Blowing a hooley Rampion Offshore Wind Farm generates green electricity to power the equivalent of around 350,000 homes, almost half of the homes in Sussex!
The wind farm comprises 116 turbines on a 70 square kilometre site located between 13 and 20 kilometres off the Sussex coast in the English Channel. Takes its name after The Rampion Flower, also known as The Pride of Sussex.
S is for Seagull
And for the love of the sea. John Masefield’s famous poem goes like this: ‘ I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life, To the gull’s way and the whale’s way, where the wind’s like a whetted knife…’
T is for Brighton Theatre Royal
Book your ticket for West End musicals and plays, along with performances of opera and ballet. Make your applause long, loud, and sincere.
The Theatre Royal is Grade II Listed and is currently run by the Ambassador Theatre Group. In 1806 the Prince of Wales gave Royal Assent for the theatre to be built and it opened on 27 June 1807, with a performance of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
The Redgrave Family, Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud, Charlton Heston, Marlene Dietrich, Margot Fonteyn, Rex Harrison, Judi Dench and Paul Scofield all performed there.
U is for Universities of Brighton and Sussex
The young heart of the city. Brighton University roots can be traced back to 1858 when the Brighton School of Art was opened in the Royal Pavilion. Did you know that Sussex University counts 5 Nobel Prize winners?
V is for Victorian and Regency
The two periods in history that shaped the City of Brighton and Hove and established it as the fun place to enjoy the sea breeze and if you dare take the waters.
W is for The West Pier
For almost a century and a half the West Pier has been Britain’s most iconic pier. Renowned for its wonderful architectural style, it has been visited and enjoyed by millions and even today its sculptural remains casting its beauty over the seafront.
X is for American Express
What started in 1850 as a freight company in Buffalo USA today is the largest employer in Brighton and Hove. American Express is a well established and renowned company, it brings with its international crew colour and vibrancy to the City of Brighton and Hove.
Y is for the Duke of York’s Cinema
Built at the cost of £3000 by actress-manager Violet Melnotte-Wyatt. It opened on 22 September 1910 and was one of Brighton’s first picture palaces and also one of the first cinemas in the world. Are your preferred seats the comfy sofas in the balcony?
Z is for the Zip Line
Come fly with me above the Brighton Palace Pier. I hope you enjoyed the ride!
Read about The Brighton and Hove Illustrated Alphabet in the news
Please find below some news coverage on my Alphabet.
Below you can find a transcription of my interview with Judith Scotnny from Artists Open Houses
AOH Artist Alej ez tells us about his Brighton and Hove Illustrated Alphabet
Hi Alej, we’re delighted you are exhibiting in the Artists Open Houses Festival again his year. Which Open House can we see your work in?
I will be at 92 Montpelier Road. The owner of the house is Risza Lopes da Cruz. Her house is stunning and for the Artists Open Houses it is transformed into a wonderful contemporary gallery which is perfect for showcasing artwork, she also creates the most beautiful jewellery.
We love your architectural prints, but what else will you be showing this year?
I have created a number of new panoramic prints this year: A triptych of ‘Modernist buildings by the Sea: Embassy Court, Saltdean Lido and the De la Warr Pavilion’. I have also created a panoramic print of Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage in Dungeness. My most recent piece is however very different. I is an Illustrated Alphabet. I call my declaration of love for the City of Brighton and Hove. It is a new print that has taken the shape of an illustrated alphabet. An A to Z of Brighton and Hove.
How did the Illustrated Alphabet project come about?
Quite complex. There are a few ideas thrown together. First was my interest to develop some projects for new prints that for some time I had in mind but somehow did not fit with my body of work.
Then comes the inspiration after visiting a few art exhibitions, specially the Barnett Freedman exhibition at Pallant House Gallery where I learnt about his work as an outstanding artist and graphic designer.
Also mixed in the pot of ideas is my interest to draw the human figure. Most people know me for my architectural prints but I also run a life drawing class, unfortunately this has stopped this year.
All this said and as an afterthought I realised that a strong reason to create this alphabet was to counterbalance the sadness I felt during the Covid crisis at witnessing in our city many art venues being closed and festivals cancelled. It is heartbreaking, I wanted to go back to them in an expression of art to celebrate their vibrancy with a message of hope.
How did you select the subject for each letter?
What started as a happy go lucky project proved to be very tricky. The final design for the Illustrated Alphabet has been a collective endeavour. I consulted fellow artists, friends and especially my partner Simon for their personal views and ideas; I had to balance them and the hardest part was to decide what to leave out.
While the Alphabet was being created I realised that it constitutes a graphic record of our times in Brighton and Hove with connotations from the past, the present and possibly what we are leaving as our legacy for the future. Each letter of the alphabet creates a scene with stories that unfolds.
Every illustrated letter tells a narrative about things close to all of us such as companionship, history, dance, freedom, walks, theatre, dance, nature, the seasons, travel, joy, the weather, music and more.
You can see this for my design for the letter ‘O’ that stands for Artists Open Houses.My motto is ‘Life is art and lives at home!’ I have participated in so many occasions at different houses. I have ended up with a big community of friend artists, it is remarkable, meaningful, fulfilling and makes me very happy.
In my ‘Brighton and Hove Alphabet’ there is depth of meaning and at the same time a fun and carefree feel.
What other artists have inspired you?
Where do we start here? My past holidays can be defined as a succession of visits to museums and art exhibitions around Europe. Often the works of artists pop out in my mind for inspiration to my pieces.
My preference though is for Uk arts such as Edward Bawden chiaroscuro contrasting linocuts; John Nash’s freedom of expression and individuality of his pieces, Edward Ardizone’s expressive drawings; the already above mentioned Barnett Freedman with his quality of graphic design and capacity to convey humanity.
Not to leave out William Blake too, you can find me staring for hours at his drawings in Petworth House, then more hours at the Towner in Eastbourne looking at Eric Ravilious; then hours at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester looking at Peter Blake’s pop art. The list goes on and on.
What else will you be exhibiting in your Open House exhibition?
You will also be able to see a very powerful piece that resonates with our current times. I have created a panoramic view of Prospect Cottage in Dungeness. Early this year Prospect Cottage was saved for future generations by a crowdfunding effort by Artfund UK.
Prospect Cottage owner Derek Jarman was an iconic figure in British culture. This year I have read some of his books and followed his steps. Even in July I passed the squatted house in North London where the Sisters of Perpetual indulgence lived, he was canonised by them.
When I visited the grounds of Prospect Cottage this summer I felt very moved. His garden was an experiment of life and art, of creation and survival where native and foreign plants grow together, possibly mimicking the creative society he often surrounded himself with. There is an excellent exhibition about him at the Garden Museum in London. Go visit!
I have also created this year a triptych of three panoramic prints that I call ‘British Modernist Buildings by the Sea: Embassy Court, Saltdean Lido and the De la Warr Pavilion’ These wonderful buildings are often portrayed in art, my different approach is to show them in relation with their settings, the sea with the promenading, the chalk cliffs.
My dragons are also back, in another triptych that I call Life: ‘Life Joy’, ‘Life Enchantment’ and ‘Life Delight’. Dragons are the calligraphic art side of me. I just love them.
See the Brighton and Hove Illustrated Alphabet‘s related stories behind the letters – And buy your own print!
at the Open Artist Open House 92 Montpelier Road Open House I will be exhibiting and selling the Illustrated Alphabet and other work
Towner in Eastbourne looking at Ravilious
specially the Barnett Freedman exhibition at Pallant House Gallery
I have created a panoramic view of Prospect Cottage in Dungeness.
There is an excellent exhibition about him at the Garden Museum in London. Go visit!