Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Life’s a Beach

Cathy Simpson reviews a book that promises connections between…

words and pictures
pictures and the world
art and beach
beach and gallery
gallery and Hastings
Hastings and art

… which it does so beautifully with Katherine Reekie’s artwork, Kay Green’s articles and Joe Fearn’s poetry.

But this collection’s just so, so HUMAN!  To any of us accustomed to reading ‘Artbollocks’, it’s like a breath of fresh sea air.

Kay Green writes some brilliantly provocative pieces about feeling out of place in an art gallery (my favourite’s Gormless in an Edinburgh Gallery) – and any of us who have felt the same will welcome the fresh, honest style which describes that sense of helpless inadequacy – and also the dawning realisation that it can be safely thrown overboard.  Those of us who communicate via our art can take a new look at how we reach our viewers, and exactly what we think we’re telling them!

The book is a beautiful piece, too, the articles and poetry generously interspersed with full colour reproductions of Katherine Reekie’s hauntingly atmospheric paintings. All of these are put into context, explained and interpreted in Joe Fearn’s touching review of her Art on the Beach exhibition of 2010, which complements the images perfectly.

Joe’s honest, deceptively subtle poems add an extra dimension, as do the verses by a wide range of other poets – but I was struck by how very visual most of them are – painting pictures in words, with some telling juxtapositions of picture and poem.

Joe’s also responsible for Green Lilith – which explains why you shouldn’t mess about on the beach after dark, and Foundlings – which explains why you SHOULD get yourself along to the Fishermen’s Museum as soon as you possibly can!

Other highlights include a touching article by Laetitia Yhap exploring the hard choices which are part and parcel of the creative process, including a profoundly devastating experience which had nevertheless informed and enriched her work.

Like the beach which is the starting point, the book has massive contrasts of mood, from the witty to the disturbing, from playful to profoundly serious – but I keep coming back to the deep, deep humanity of it all.  Anyone could get their teeth into it, but it’s certainly not tabloid or superficial.

The final chapter, Modern Hastings in Art, looks towards the future, collecting views from a variety of Hastings residents, especially in the light of the pending opening of the Jerwood Gallery.  Very exciting! Kay has established the beginning of the story, and as readers we are left waiting to see what happens next, hoping for the next instalment, and wondering how accurate the predictions will be – all the more so now the Jerwood is open to the public. What will the next chapter have to say?

There’s a saying in showbiz circles:  “Always leave the audience wanting more”.  The Hastings Modern Art Beach Book certainly does that, and I highly recommend it!

The Hastings Modern Art Beach Book
Katherine Reekie, Joe Fearn & Kay Green
Published by Earlyworks Press – visit their website



Posted 17:20 Sunday, Apr 15, 2012 In: Arts News

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