Guildford Arts Lab

What was the Guildford Arts Lab? Was it a place? Sadly no. Graham Clarke writes in the intro to Five Whole Years that the first Arts lab event took place Tuesday 26 October 1965 in a cellar behind the Plaza ballroom. Around February 1966, A Surrey Ad reporter wrote an article entitled 'Poetry from a hole in the ground'. The name stuck and metamorphosed into the Whole. After April 1966, events moved to the Orphanage Hall (site of many a good jumbly!). In July 1967, premises were very nearly secured at St Nicholas' hall but fell through. Next port of call was Boxers coffee bar, under the Tunsgate arch. Various events took place at the Stoke Hotel, including the famous Hare Krishna march to the Art School sit-in mentioned in Richard Neville's book Playpower.

It was at a Helix gig at the Stoke Hotel (22 December 1968) that I first became acquainted with Graham and Clive and the Arts Lab. Soon after, I moved to Shyneford, edited Whole News with Gus, promoted a few events, and designed many of the posters. Eventually the Arts Lab did get a sort of permanent home in the Youth Centre annexe in Leapale Lane (formerly a TA garage and Officers mess), under the direction of Dave Ambrose. Events often went under the name of Wowie! Zowie! Fun Palace. The building later became the Bellerby Theatre (named after mayor Bill Bellerby).

100 Watts


Tuesday 26 October 1965: poetry and folk music in a cellar behind the Plaza ballroom

1967-68 Boxers coffee bar

November 1968: Benefit concert at the Civic Hall with Fairport Convention, Third Ear band, Roy Harper, Bridget St John, Barclay James Harvest, Ron Geesin, Tim Hollier and John Peel

22 December 1968: 100 Watts of Ancient Sky. Poetry and music from Helix, Clive Young and Al Mackenzie, Graham Clarke & Bob Thomas, and Nick Gray.

23 May 1969 (?) at the Stoke Hotel: Kasbahn and Radha Krishna Chanters, followed by parade to Guildford art school sit-in

1 June 1969 at Stoke Hotel: Bristol Arts lab electronics, People Show, Mike Horovitz, Mark Talbot, Fred Pipes, Clive Young, Graham Clarke, Robin Shirley, John White, Dave Ambrose, Mark Huntley, Paul Clamp and Bryn Davis, Ron Inglis light show

22 November 1969: Heron, a small acoustic group plus Clive (up from Sussex) with Paul Clamp and Bryn Davis and Graham back from his PO course!! Chris Gange DJed. Cyberdescence light show. Youth Centre Annex

29 November 1969: Trees, electric folk band with girl singer, plus me and Robin Shirley. A roadie asked us if his band Hawkwind Zoo could play sometime. We said no!!!! Youth Centre Annex

6 December 1969: Presto and Calico plus Bob Hamblett reading his Encyclical and John White down from Edinburgh. Youth Centre Annex

13 December 1969: 'Towers open fire' Burroughs film plus Gus and Nick Gray. Youth Centre Annex

20 December 1969: 'The Fugs' film plus Dave Ambrose and Jumble (Gus's band, with Randy McDonald, Chris Greenwood and Bernie ??) with Rob Thomasson on electric bass!!! Youth Centre Annex

17 January 1970: Bridget St John!! best act yet! plus film 'Relativity'. Youth Centre Annex

24 January 1970: Dylan film 'Don't look back' – I did a really nice poster for it! Youth Centre Annex

4 March 1970: The assassination of William Blake as performed by the inmates of Guildford Arts Lab under the direction of the Marquis de Pipes!! starring Mike Horovitz, Brian Patten, Graham, Clive, Gus, Robin Shirley, John White, Dave Ambrose, Nick Gray and Cyberdescence. Wowie Zowie! what a line up. Part of the Guildford festival.

Saturday 9 May 1970: Prof Bruce Lacey + 'The Hole', 'Pre-Raphaelite revolt', Clive Young and Bob Hamblett

Saturday 9 May 1970: 'Filthy', Victorian silent movies + Amazing Grace

22-25 May 1970: South Sea Bubble

Saturday 30 May 1970: Marx Brothers in 'Night in Casablanca' + Buster Keaton in 'The General' + more

27/ 28 June 1970 Surrey Free Festival

Saturday 5 September 1970: Bridget St John, supported by Fred Pipes and Mike Kinshott, at the Youth Centre Annex, Leapale Lane

19 September 1970: Formerly Fat Harry (with ex-Country Joe's Bruce Barthol), Poppa Ben Hook, Frendz, and Crysanthemum (Ron Inglis's light show) at the Youth Centre, Haydon Place

23 October 1970: Tir Na Nog, Poppa Ben Hook, Band of Hope and Glory, and Crysanthemum at the Youth Centre Gym

November 1970: Five Whole Years published

7 November 1970: Jelly Bread, Marble Orchard, Poppa Ben Hook, Exhibit 'A' and the Paranoids, University Hall, Stag Hill

19 December 1970: Wishbone Ash, Band of Hope and Glory, and Crysanthemum at the Youth Centre Gym

5 February 1971 at Guildford Civic Hall: Clark-Hutchinson, Lindisfarne and Cage. I think we lost a load of money on that one!

Friday 9 April 1971: Jo-Ann Kelly plus John Ellis, Youth Centre Annexe
Sunday 11 April 1971 Marx Bros at the Circus, plus Paint (body painting film!) and Tom and Jerry shorts

Friday 16 April 1971: John Martyn and friends (including Al Stewart!!), Youth Centre Annexe
Sunday 18 April 1971: films Privilege and Lolita

Friday 23 April 1971: Ron Geesin, Youth Centre Annexe
Sunday 25 April 1971: films Blow-up and Danish Blue

Monday 4 October 1971: Summer of 69 (we were nostalgic even then!!): David Ambrose, Keith Besford, Fred Pipes, Nick Gray and maybe Video Wal, Lecture Theatre D, University of Surrey, Stag Hill