Strange currents in odd places
End of August approaches and with it Hastings and St Leonards annual arts festival, Coastal Currents. Amazingly, now in its sixteenth year, it has been growing exponentially in size and character, attracting international groups and live events as well as supporting local artists. HOT’s Lauris Morgan-Griffiths talked to one of the curators, Tina Morris.
One of the great things about the festival now is its element of surprise: there will be odd things happening in odd places, whether being ambushed by strange ladies, tripping over miniature sculptures or finding your way into buildings that are not normally accessible, as well as finding buildings transformed by artists.
Isaac Cordal has created about thirty miniature sand sculptures, Cement Eclipses, that will be deposited randomly around the sea front. Look and you will find: in the gutter, on top of buildings, even bus shelters. Small and perfectly formed, they are rather poignant as they point up the human condition. Tina Morris says, “They explore themes of climate change, scepticism with authority, anonymity and the drudgery of modern life, placed amongst urban streets to criticise contemporary society.” Or make of them what you will. From Thursday 28 August there will be plenty of time to contemplate and empathise with the little people as they will be left in the town for posterity.
Then there will be the influx of five to seven Red Ladies. Who are they? What are they doing as they spread a sense of unease, are they being subversive, surreptitious, furtive? Who knows ? I certainly don’t. So covert are the operations I wasn’t allowed to be told. Mystery, intrigue and undercover stories are there to be revealed or for you to discover. Red Ladies, Hastings town centre and Old Town, Saturday 5 September.
Hastings’ own performance artist/dancer Yumino Seki is performing her tender choreographed Butoh influenced dance, Manjusaka. Performed last year at St Mary in the Castle as a work in progres, (see HOT review) it is now fully fledged. Exploring worlds of immortality, the piece is a magical experience drawn in dance, sound and light. In Japan the vivid amaryllis red flower blooms at the autumn equinox, the time when the dead and living are believed to converge. The show is not high pyrotechnic athleticism, it slowly reveals itself as a gentle, magical, beautiful work. I hope the weather will be kind, but even if it is performed in a rain storm that will bring another dimension to it. Stade Open Space, Hastings TN34 3FJ, Saturday 29 August 8.30pm.
Another lyrical piece is Amy Sharrocks’ Waterworks. She has a romantic and intelligent connection with water. Pondering the question of what it is and how we use it, she has created a Museum of Water from individuals’ offerings. She simply asks people to bring some water that is precious for whatever reason, put it in a bottle and tell her why you chose it. A wonderful way to contemplate this everyday substance. Museum of Water, Black Winkle Studio, opp Fishermen’s Museum, Rock-a-Nore Road, Hastings TN34 3DW, Saturday 29 August 12-8pm, Sunday 30-Monday 31 August 11am-6pm.
To highlight the festival’s outside events, the Opening Party – free and open to all – on 28 August is in the newly renovated Bottle Alley. An area of Hastings people often give a wide berth to as a scuzzy, slightly dodgy place. However for this occasion it will be transformed into a subterranean art installation with the help of seventeen different artists. And then the After Opening Party continues in the newly furbished Observer Building to celebrate the opening of both the building and the festival. Opening Party, Bottle Alley, pier entrance, Friday 28 August 7-9pm. After Opening Party, Observer Building 9-11pm.
If all this feels too highly charged Hunt and Darton calm things down with a performance, Boredom. Parents are frequently reproached with the words, “I’m bored,” and the tendency is to try and fix it. However, amazing creative thoughts, deeds, ideas can come out of boredom; some people are never bored, others are always bored. So, turn up and see what boredom feels like – however, I reckon you won’t be bored. And if you are, well, maybe that is a state you wallow in. Stade Open Space, Saturday 5 September 7.30pm.
There are too many things to mention.
Another transformation will be at the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery where the artist Tod Hanson will be creating work responding to the Durbar Hall. He will be hand-painting an elaborate floor piece reflecting items and themes from the museum’s collection. Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, Bohemia Road, Hastings TN34 1ET, Thursday 10 September-Sunday 4 October.
In Markwick Gardens there will be a vibrant production of The Tempest produced by Crow Tree Theatre Company. It will be a promenade performance in an island-like environment. The play begins and ends with royal marriage festivities – you can leave your hamper at home because you can enter into the spirit of it all as food and drink will be available to buy. Markwick Gardens, Brittany Road, St Leonards-on-Sea TN38 0RB. Friday 28-Sunday 30 August 7pm. Gates open 6.15pm.
In the past Coastal Currents have included film – one year they had short films showing in container trucks. This year they have devised a mini film festival, produced by Mark French. Baker-Mamonova will be showing a film by the popular and respected film-maker Andrew Kotting with Iain Sinclair, By Our Selves. And for the closing event to attract a varied audience, after the shops have shut Priory Meadow will be transformed. There will be a pop-up screen, an opera singer, Aino Konkka will sing prior to the premier of local film-maker Nichola Bruce and Sam Sharples’ film, Alcina Pale Shadows, with Barefoot Opera. By Our Selves, Andrew Kotting with Iain Sinclair, Baker-Mamonova Gallery, 43-53 Norman Road, St Leonards-on-Sea TN38 0EQ, Friday 4 September 7.30pm. Alcina Pale Shadows, Nichola Bruce and Sam Sharples, Priory Meadow Shopping Centre, Saturday 12 September 8 pm.
The above is just a taste of what the festival has to offer – there are too many events to mention individually. In addition there are open studios – more than last year – surprises, houses, buildings, beach huts to be discovered and art to be seen and bought. Over three weekends there is something for everyone. Go with the flow, don’t be shy to question, talk to the artists, look and experience something different.
Coastal Currents is on from Saturday 29 August to Sunday 13 September.
Also in: Public Arts« Your museum, your say
The Big Hoot »