Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

boy sunglasses 600Beach visitors in focus for Coastal Currents

As part of Coastal Currents Malcolm Glover has taken his video camera to provide a close-up of people enjoying the beach in St Leonards-on-Sea. Judy Parkinson, a fan of the photographer, explains the background to the Groynes 41-42 project.

Groyne: a low wall or sturdy barrier built out into the sea from a beach to check erosion and drifting.

Malcolm Glover’s living, breathing video portraits of people on the beach, shine a bright contemporary light on the traditional holiday photo. Glover has been documenting the British way of life in terms of time and space for 25 years, and this series of portraits takes him in a new direction – back to the future.

More than 200 years ago the beaches of St Leonards-on-Sea began to attract the upper echelons of society from royals, lords and ladies to politicians and poets.

girl ice cream cone 300The twin pursuits of visiting the seaside and sea bathing became fashionable at the end of the 18th century when the concept of the holiday resort emerged. At the beginning of the 19th century visitors dipped their toes, and not much else, in the waters via horse-drawn ‘bathing machines’ that tempted demure bathers into the sea without having to expose themselves to public view.

The Bank Holiday Act of 1871 gave factory workers four paid days off per year. Now everyone could enjoy a sunny weekend at the seaside, not just the affluent. The seeds of a leisure industry were sewn and people wanted to record and share their summer holiday memories. Even now, in this digital age, there remains a special place for holiday photos in everyone’s photo sharing app.

You will find many of Glover’s portraits online, or deep in the nether reaches of your Instagram feed.  Now, available to everyone and on a large scale, he brings his new perceptions to the public as projections and screenings in two Hastings town centre locations as part of the 2018 Coastal Currents festival.

Glover focuses his camera on people on the section of beach contained by Groynes 41 and 42, that aprons out in front of the Royal Victoria Hotel, visited by Queen Victoria on several occasions during her reign. And by doing so he brings this important historic location right up to date. ‘I chose this particular stretch of beach in St Leonards as it attracts an eclectic array of local people and the way the beach is enjoyed still has a uniquely British flavour,’ he says.

lad with hat 300Glover shot his beach portraits during what will be a memorable summer – the hottest so far this century. He combed the beach for likely subjects during July and August. ‘This is a communal thing, a unique part of St Leonards life. I wanted to find everyone from Jack the Lad, the London lot, to local swimming club members,’ he says. He selected people of all ages, nationalities, shapes and sizes and filmed in the bright afternoon light.

‘People can keep still for 10 seconds, but they can’t hold a pose for half a minute. I wanted to see something real, see how people react,’ says Glover. ‘I took a variety of shots, close-ups, medium shots, wide shots, always interested in what was going on in the background too. There were some amazing scenarios and sounds going on behind the sitters, from plastic palm trees planted in the pebbles, dogs peeing and of course seagulls squawking.’

From Monday 3 to Sunday 30 September, you can see the portraits as large-scale projections in the window of Debenhams on Robertson Street (7pm to 10pm) as well as on a screen in nearby Borough Wines (34 Robertson Street, daytimes and evenings). The project also features accompanying texts by writer Mark C Hewitt with whom Malcolm Glover has collaborated on a sequence of seaside postcards featuring images from the videos.
To find out more about the project, there will be a special screening and artist talk by Malcolm Glover at Hastings Museum & Art Gallery (John’s Place, Bohemia Rd, Hastings TN34 1ET) on Wednesday 26 September at 4pm. The event is free. Details and tickets from HMAG (tel 01424 451052).

lad on chair 600

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Posted 17:53 Monday, Sep 3, 2018 In: Photography

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