Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Their Backs © Laetitia Yhap.

All Hands, by Laetitia Yhap: a time before steel boats, tractors and mobiles 1974–95

HOT’s Erica Smith sings the praises of an exhibition where the tables are turned, and men at work are the subject of the female gaze.


Paul fixing up a net, 1980 © Laetitia Yhap.

When Laetitia Yhap washed up on the Stade back in the ’70s, she was amongst the early waves of Londoners discovering this beautiful town. The fishing beach is a masculine world, and a place of work. Fishermen don’t welcome all newcomers with open arms, and words, let alone praise, can be scarce. But Laetitia is a different kettle of fish from the average DFL, as fisherman Paul Joy (shown here, fixing up a net back in 1980) is happy to admit:

“Laetitia immersed herself in the industry for many years, she was accepted right from the beginning – if we were pulling out nets she would too and you could see the wind in the drawings.”


The Boat, 1980 © Laetitia Yhap.

It is highly appropriate that Yhap’s paintings of life on the Stade are now being exhibited on the Stade. The dark wood walls of Stade Hall are the perfect backdrop for these large, colourful and strangely shaped paintings. Yhap doesn’t believe in composing scenes from life into ‘conventional’ rectangles. She chooses shapes that reflect the compositions. Sometimes this involves painting on an upside down bed-head, or creating a ‘scalloped’ frame from cross-sections of an old curved wardrobe door.

The exhibition opened at the same time as the Midsummer Fish Fair, and runs until this Sunday – 5 July. On Thursday morning, there is a special private viewing with the artist, organised by the Art Fund. Artists flock to Hastings and it is easy for an art exhibition to come and go without many getting to see it. This is one that really should not be missed. The paintings are a living document of our town’s history.

The Art Fund event is at 10.45 for 11am on Thursday 2 July and costs £10 – proceeds support the work of the charity. Details of the event are shown here.

There is a small catalogue available for £4 with an excellent essay by Caroline Collier and a short piece of writing by Laetitia.


Posted 20:37 Monday, Jun 29, 2015 In: Arts News

Also in: Arts News

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