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Graphic by 'They Do It With Ease'

Graphic by 'They Do It With Ease'

They Do It With Ease

In a radical new use for empty spaces under the St Leonards promenade, a group of art students from London, Hastings and St Leonards staged an exhibition of their work in The Old Beach House last Friday August 23. Two of the organisers, Jaf Yusuf and Rosie Haward, tell us more about it.

‘They Do It With Ease’ was an exhibition by a selection of students from Goldsmiths, Westminster and Hastings Foundation.

As an art student from Hastings studying in London the difficulties of putting on an exhibition in St. Leonards highlights a need for cultural diversity beyond the capital. Struggling with the histories attached to ‘white cube’ curation and the politics surrounding the occupation of derelict spaces by art students is a precarious position to be in; our desire to question our surroundings and embed ourselves in a site-specific space are thrown into harsh light when faced with multiple thefts of equipment and a hostile environment. These however were some of the reasons we chose to persevere and highlight the challenges faced and overcome to get to the point that we did.

The work shown was inquisitive and naturally diverse, the drawings and writings in the entrance space spread themselves across the damp walls and become an extension of the heavy sea air, glinting acetate trapping thoughts, and delicate pencil lines beneath, leading you into a long corridor of dark spaces scattered with screens and projections. A voluble mountain of slippery flesh-coloured blancmange fluttered on a fabric screen, blowing in the breeze of a fan. The proximity of its surface having a nervously comical effect, enhanced by the confusion of sounds echoing from further down the space. The first a large projection of a bike smoothly travelling underneath the pier, directly connecting the viewer to their physical presence in relation to the sea and displaying itself neatly after a series of film collages, suggesting a continuation of the historical images and sounds.

In sharp contrast with the dripping rain water and strips of mould weeping down the walls there was a corner occupied by an artificial 70s garden, complete with synthetic grass and lurid orange sun lounger which matched the performers shirt and flares combination. Her dangerously spiky shoes and a jug full of eye-wateringly blue cocktail encouraged a sense of unease as she poured it into the glasses of passing spectators, leaving them unsure of their role in her possible charade. A sense of anti-climax continued as you walked over a dirty strip of red carpet towards two symmetrical shower rooms, occupied with showers, plastic curtains and each with a film of the same woman, talking intently into the camera, a fountain bubbling behind her and the flashing light from an arcade illuminating her face and filling up the room with her sporadic and unnerving presence.

The sense of claustrophobia was then enhanced by the closed off space at the end, taken over by the sound of an eerie, out of tune female voice forcing you back out into the face of a series of drawings of strange almost human creatures, subtly sinister with their ghostly lit green surfaces. Leaving the viewer facing down the corridor again, flashing with images and sounds that managed to connect the individual spaces whilst also maintaining their own investigations into performance, space, technology, femininity and connections to art history.

The complex use of the space in relation to its surroundings was a poignant reminder of what can be achieved when there is a sense of importance attached to creativity and experimentation, and it has been a very valuable experience to work in a town which has such potential for young arts graduates.

Those who took part are: Grant Bingham, Xanthe Horner, Zoe Billingham, Maudie Gibbons, Jaf Yusuf, Nancy Odofunda, Tuff Yak, Rosie Haward, India Boxall, Rupert Dorey, Jennifer Ingham, Magnus Ayers and Samuel Turpin.

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Posted 14:07 Friday, Aug 30, 2013 In: Visual Arts

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