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Frank Boelter sets sail.

Frank’s feat ends Coastal Currents on a high

Frank Boelter - drenched but happy.

The Coastal Currents arts festival hit new peaks this year, with the Open Studios programme proving immensely popular and the final participatory event on the beach last weekend also drawing the crowds, as the organisers report.

“Hundreds of people lined the beach at Rock-a-Nore to see Frank Boelter set sail in a life-sized paper boat, made with the help of the community. The final event of Coastal Currents 2014 kicked off on Sunday morning with the German artist working with the community of Hastings and St Leonards, tourists and day-trippers, to fold, score and bend large sheets of Tetrapak in an origami style, resulting in the biggest paper boat anyone has ever seen!

The crowd takes over.

The crowd became so involved that Frank was able to stand back and let them take over – this is a key moment in the piece, when the community takes ownership of the boat and it becomes a true collaboration. Then at 3.30pm, despite high winds, the boat was carried by those who made it, the artists and excited children, down the beach to the sea, where Frank jumped on-board in full suit and set sail.

Everyone was beyond pleased.

The crowds were not only blown away by the beauty of the act of sailing something so fragile and hand-made, but genuinely taken aback by how sturdy the structure was in the water. Frank was able to float for almost 30 minutes before he had to abandon ship and be helped ashore to rapturous applause. Everyone was beyond pleased, including the artist himself, as this is the first time he has attempted a sea launch with the tides to contend with – so a major first for him, as well as for Hastings and Coastal Currents.

And thanks go to the Hastings Voluntary Lifeguards.

It was another incredible weekend for Coastal Currents both in terms of weather and attendance. The sun shone all weekend and, whether it was due to the BBC news coverage or the blazing temperatures, it was the busiest Coastal Currents yet.

"It was a spectacular finale to a fantastic festival," said Richard Best.

Open Studios bowl them over

The Open Studios took place for a second weekend and the response in terms of both numbers and spending was way beyond expectation. Everyone seemed bowled over by the way the festival has reached a new and very welcome crowd to the town this year. “It was a spectacular finale to a fantastic festival,” said Richard Best.

“It has been so successful that we are keeping our studio open for the forthcoming week and next weekend,”   said Philip Cosham.

“Around 1,000 people visited my hut over the two weekends and I’ve made more sales than I would have ever expected. I’m so glad I found the upturned fishing boat in the net shops and turned it into a pop-up studio as it seems to have captured everyone’s imagination,” said artist Amy Fellows.
“Coastal Currents for me began with watching a group of women called Reckless Sleepers sawing off the legs of the wooden chairs that they were sitting on, while maintaining their balance; it featured new work by my favourite contemporary artist, Kate MccGwire, with two commissioned site specific installations in St. Mary in the Castle,” commented artist Helen Hunt. “Along the way I saw some great exhibitions and enjoyed visiting many Open Studios (making a few purchases) and ended with the launch of a giant paper boat into the sea with the artist, Frank Boelter sailing away in it! IT WAS THE BEST COASTAL CURRENTS FESTIVAL YET!”

“A brilliant two weekends of open studios. So much fun, so many interesting people,” said artist Bob Humm. “If anyone missed coming up to 49 Tackleway and still wants to, everything will still be here for the next week, come along and be surprised.”

Thanks to everyone who came and everyone who took part. All the artists who opened their studios, commissioned artists Kate MccGwire, Alice AndersonRoz Cran and The Hastings Film Makers, plus ZEROH and all our opening night participants and makers, and anyone we have left out!

This was the most wide-ranging, eclectic and exciting year of commissions,  performances and exhibitions yet, we thank all the national and international artists who came to Hastings, and to all the many talented and enthusiastic local artists and makers who performed, exhibited and flung open their doors to welcome the crowds over the past three weekends. The festival wouldn’t have run and grown for 15 years had it not been for the strength, support and enthusiasm of the local arts community, who it is a genuine pleasure to work with. On to 2015…”

All photos by Alexander Brattell.

Posted 14:31 Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014 In: Arts News

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