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Press release

  • 1 June 2005
  • Women open up new horizons through learning

    Jannet Cook with the Gaudi-inspired sculpture Fairway Flame, in Moulsecoomb, Brighton

    Jannet Cook with the Gaudi-inspired sculpture Fairway Flame, in Moulsecoomb, Brighton

    Two women - and their communities - have a new outlook on the world, thanks to the specialist skills they acquired through part-time study at the Centre for Continuing Education (CCE) at the University of Sussex.

    Patricia Selby, a grandmother from Crowborough, took six years to complete a BA degree in Landscape Studies and is now helping to set up an oral history project for the Ashdown Forest. Moulsecoomb voluntary worker Jannet Cook, meanwhile, has used the knowledge she gained with her Arts and Cultural Management Certificate to help create a public work of art for her community.

    Patricia's interest in landscape history, fuelled by her studies, led her to join the Friends of High Weald ANOB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). She became involved there in an oral history project to build an accurate picture of the forest's past by recording the personal stories of its people, including farmers, charcoal makers, fruit and hop growers and foresters. "I went along and explained how an oral history project can be run. Now I and other volunteers will be recording people's memories for posterity."

    The work has brought her into contact with practices and dialects that have either long been forgotten, or obscured by time, such as hay rick thatching and "brutting", which describes the action of cows nibbling the lower branches of trees. "I often use a Sussex dialect dictionary when transcribing in case I come across an unfamiliar word. Not bad for someone who went to a secondary modern school and has no O-levels," says Patricia.

    Jannet was one of the driving forces behind a striking public art project, the Gaudi-inspired Fairway Flame, a mosaic sculpture that marks the entrance to the Fairway business park in Moulsecoomb.

    The work is a collaboration between children from Falmer High School and local sculptor Ben Thomson, with funding from eb4U (the regeneration project for East Brighton) and Brighton and Hove City Council. Jannet managed to obtain funding when she discovered how developers could be asked for one per cent of development costs to pay for a work of art for public benefit - the "percent for art" scheme. Jannet heard about the scheme through her Arts and Cultural Management course. She was also instrumental in guiding the project to completion.

    Jannet says: "The Fairway Flame is a piece of public art truly involving the community - 500 kids from Falmer School can show their families how they contributed and the project has given something back to the city." She is now studying for the Life History Work certificate and hopes to record the experiences of those who took part in the Moulsecoomb regeneration project. Jannet says: "I left school at 15 and never thought I'd be able to go to university. CCE staff were really helpful and that made all the difference."

    To encourage others like Patricia and Jannet to explore the possibilities opened up by part-time adult education, CCE will be holding drop-in open events on Tuesday 7 June at Brighton Museum from 4pm to 7pm and on Saturday 11 June from 11am to 2pm at the Downs restaurant, Bramber House, on campus. The events offer visitors the opportunity to meet other students and discuss courses with tutors. For further information, tel: 01273 877888 or visit


    Notes for editors 

    For interviews, photos etc, please contact Angela Van Dyck on 01273 678465.


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