Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
Andrew and Eden Kötting

Andrew and Eden Kötting

Music, poetry, reading and film as Black Huts Festival returns

The Black Huts Festival is back for its fourth year; a festival of music, poetry, reading and film at the Electric Palace and the Beacon. HOT’s Lauris Morgan-Griffiths went along to the Fundraiser to see what it was all about.

And was more than pleasantly surprised.

All At Sea Still Eden Kötting

All At Sea Still Eden Kötting

It was an exhilarating performance of, well, film, writing and poetry. Film, as you would expect, is experimental. Roland Jarvis, might have been the  oldest but definitely young in spirit, his film featured electronic music with colourful puppet-like animation.

Eden Kötting’s drawings were animated by Glenn Whiting. Whiting was visiting the Köttings one day and, much taken by some of Eden’s drawings, suggested that he might animate them. And so he did.

Pete Brown

There was a local St Leonards quartet, Oudolin, playing Middle Eastern and Andalucían music. Poet, Nicholas Johnson read and Pete Brown energetically performed. There was a film Acts of Memory by Nichola Bruce, atmospheric of Hastings life;  film overlays of colourful, evocative and atmospheric  happening and memories of Hastings life.

Two other films were extraordinary. The international artist Ben Rivers showed, This is My Land, a film set in an innocent, feral  time in ragged, tough countryside; kids roaming free, playing as land is  ploughed, cattle brought in, dogs shepherding. An era gone by. Rivers who has an exhibition at the Camden Arts Centre in Hampstead at present, is willing to come to Hastings but can’t commit as he gets caught up in international film events.

And then Andrew Kötting’s performance The Bird Song accompanied by David Aylward aka Deptford Dave. I didn’t know Andrew was a performance artist, but I do now. That is how he started his career before he “found film simpler to deal with.” A woodland film was a backdrop, then in the half light of the Electric Cinema he donned an owl’s costume and with his arms outspread as wings, his feet splayed he strutted up and down the cinema aisle. Andrew is a big man, anyway, but in his costume he loomed large and fearful.

Shame on you. You missed a good evening.

Nicholas Johnson by Louis Labron, back cover of CLEAVE Waterloo Press

Nicholas Johnson by Louis Labron, back cover of CLEAVE Waterloo Press

Poet, publisher and event organiser, Nicholas Johnson started the Festival four years ago. There was not much happening in Devon, he knew a few people and Johnson reckoned it was a creative, innovative community. And so it proved.

“I wanted to make film and I liked the crossover between poetry, writing and film. And there were people here like Andrew Kötting, Iain Sinclair, Brian Catling and Nichola Bruce that were already doing that.”

Johnson has attracted international players to the Festival over the past few years and this one has again. However, four years on it is no less easy to get the Festival up and running.

Johnson says baldly “I almost lost my shirt on this one – having to pay fees, two air fares, venue hire and accommodation. It was all a bit mad really but, at least, the gamble paid off.” On a second application he managed to secure Arts Council Funding. As always, in Hastings, it is staggering what good people achieve with minimal funds but sad they have to, literally, peer over the edge to do it.

Coming up at The Electric Palace and The Beacon are: poetry, readings and recitals from performs like Jèssica Pujol, Iain Sinclair, Elle Osborne, Timothy Neat, James Kelman, John Healy, Carlyle Reddy, Pete Brown, Jonathan Coe, Brian Catling. There will be an evening with Shirley Collins, a film by Andrew Kötting (with Iain Sinclair) By Our Selves. And the Festival culminates on Sunday 1 November with an All Hallows’ Eve film double bill.

Black Huts Festival at the Electric Palace, 39a High Street, Hastings and The Beacon, 67–68 St Mary’s Terrace, Hastings from 28 October – 1 November, 2015

Posted 18:07 Tuesday, Oct 20, 2015 In: Film

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