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HAF Gallery reopening.

Change comes to Hastings Arts Forum

It is with great relief that galleries, pubs and restaurants are now allowed to open. Albeit with social distancing. People have been so desperate for a bit of culture that in London, apparently, it has been difficult to book a time slot to visit. So Hastings Arts Form is open again, in a new guise. HOT’ Lauris Morgan-Griffiths went along to see and spoke to Martin Bradshaw about the changes.

The gallery has shrunk into the smaller of the two previous galleries. When I went there, it obviously felt different, smaller but perfectly formed. The group show in there at the moment looked good, quite spacious, not overcrowded.

How long they had known that they would have to move?

Since early spring. There had been some issues with deteriorating windows due to leaking. It’s a listed building which complicated matters. We were negotiating about that when the owners decided to sell. So they decided to close off the walkway and create the new gallery. Things became more complicated when the owner died three days before the auction.


HAF Gallery reopening.

How long have you been at the Gallery?

I’ve been a member for three and a half years as an artist and the Gallery Coordinator for two years. There is a history of HAF that goes way before me.

What did you do before?

I was a professional musician for 40 years: a cellist with the BBC Philharmonic, Concert and Symphony Orchestras. As well as for National Theatre and West End orchestras. Then in the early 90s I went to art school and, for a while, worked as an artist and musician in tandem. Then I came down here and paint.

What was happening during lockdown?

Not a lot. I am the only paid member of staff and I work two days a week, so I was furloughed. But we have a wonderful team of volunteers and it was them that coordinated the move in difficult circumstances during Covid restrictions. It was a massive issue moving out, planning sealing off the between the gallery spaces according to listed building regulations. And downsizing. They did a wonderful job.

So there was no future planning?

No, everything was on hold. We reopened at the end of June and then started planning  for this year and next.  We are reinstating many of the exhibitions that we had to postpone or cancel  due to the lockdown. But I am pleased to say this year is fully booked and next year too is pretty full.

We are very lucky we have a really good exhibition and marketing team amongst the volunteers – front of house as well as behind the scenes. It is a tightrope managing it all but we have a very committed group of volunteers and I hope it will only get better.

What about curated shows?

Solo artists curate their own. We also have members’ shows, which respond to an Open Call which has a quality control. That can be quite challenging because members are vital to the health of the Hastings Arts Forum. And in October we are having a Lockdown Exhibition to show how artists have dealt with creativity during those long difficult months.

And what is it like to be open again?

We have had very positive feedback. I thought people would compare it to the previous space but that doesn’t seem to have been the case. The gallery now has six wall spaces and three 3D spaces which artists may rent for a fortnight. Inevitably it has a different feel but, being smaller, it makes it very manageable for one artist to exhibit here.

 HAFallery reopening. Lesley Barker: Eventide

HAF Gallery reopening. Lesley Barker: Eventide

Forthcoming Shows

There will be no private views for the foreseeable future.

Changing Spaces, a mixed Members’ Show, is open until 26 July.

Harry Tryphonos: Minor Sketches. Tryphonos’ works in different media are all emotional snapshots of a set point in time. The artworks are raw and uncompromising. They defy narrative and command a visceral reaction. 28 Jul – 9 Aug.

Oaxaca to Hastings Via Nice: A Journey in Paint. Harriet Macaree’s paintings track a Londoner’s journey in time and place, through 10 years in Mexico, seven in Nice, and a sudden landing in Hastings. 11 Aug – 23 Aug.

David Reeve: Bridges. Reeves is a popular Hastings artist and will be showing  new paintings that have evolved through observation of the ‘real’ world. 25 Aug – 6 Sept.

Posted 19:34 Wednesday, Jul 22, 2020 In: Arts News

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