Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
Louise Ashcroft Unlucky Dip

Louise Ashcroft Unlucky Dip

Coastal Currents 2017

Our annual culture Fest, Coastal Currents is almost on us again. The time when strange things can turn up in Hastings – yes, even stranger than normal ­– animate the streets, puzzle onlookers, make us laugh, scratch our heads and visit places we don’t normally visit. HOT’s Lauris Morgan-Griffiths spoke to Director Tina Morris about what was in store this year.

First off, things have changed, not hugely visible, as things are really happening behind the scenes. First up, it is still here and viable; it is bigger and better, vibrant, and it has a future. Previously run by Creative Coast, optimism is rife as the company is now owned by Sweet & Dandy who has “been in Hastings 10 years but worked on Coastal Currents  for five, been a Director of the Festival for three years and am now the owner” which gives her the ability to manage the finances* and plan for the future.

When I first arrived in Hastings five years ago, it was good to see that Coastal Currents existed. Then it didn’t have the energy and there was a need for a stronger hand on the curation tiller, but now it has hit its stride and  celebrates a more ambitious programme.

Since then local creatives have become more confident and mature. The programme is not parochial. It has become international which has given it a credibility stamp as well as attracting more artists, which further underlines Hastings and St Leonards as a creative centre and attracts more visitors to the town.

Reoccurring Undulation

Reoccurring Undulation

Macedonian artist Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva who has exhibited at the Vatican as part of the Venice Biennale, jumped at the chance to install her installation at the Shipwreck Museum. She is to showcase Reoccurring Undulation, made from fish skins, it is a work of repetition reminiscent of our local seascape – fish swimming, tidal currents, waves or sand lines. Home Live Art has produced Ray Lee’s Siren a spectacle of sound and music at St Mary in the Castle.

Now that Tina Morris knows that the Festival is secure, she can actively plan ahead, raising independent funds and commission projects not over a few frenetic, fast months (this year she only had confirmation she owned the Festival in November) but for next year and onto 2019. There will be time to commission ahead and the freedom to scout for new projects.

Money and time are always issues. Morris will reinvest money back into the Festival. Invited producers organise their own, budgeted programmes. And they do it in their own way. Greig Burgoyne has spread his pocket of money, little and often over several art, sound, film projects – as well as artist Louise Ashcroft performing on train journeys between Hastings and St Leonards.

La Verita Dance Company

La Verita Dance Company

Last year Bottle Alley’s pillars featured artists’ work which deteriorated slowly over the year. This year Zeroh’s installation, wavelength is designed to last – with the proviso that people want to retain it as a feature. I personally love Bottle Alley just the way it is – particularly now the glass mosaic has been cleaned up – but I am prepared to keep an open mind and others might love it. So it could be part of its fabric or be voted down. Democracy rules. Hopefully.

Accessibility is key. The Festival is essentially Hastings and St Leonards centred – from both participants and producers. Morris says “I am keen that the Festival is not solely for the cultural elite.”. Last year there was the film show in the town centre. This year there are films projected in shop windows, there are young people’s workshops in Ore and Hollington to engage people who are not normally culturally aware. A workshop, Beastie, has been devised soley for children by Lone Town to stretch children’s imagination. Look out for Beastie, a creature modelled on a Jim Henson character, who will make fleeting appearances around the town.

Fishing hut Open Studios

Fishing hut Open Studios

The ethos of the Festival is that events should be accessible and free. And although most events are free, a few do come with an entry fee.

There are films, art, dance, sound, appearances, bake offs, installations and, of course, the backbone of the event, open studios. Odd buildings are taking part and transformed. So besides being transported creatively the festival might just take you into areas of Hastings that you don’t really know.

And most of the events are Free!

I have not listed all events as they are in the Brochure. Booklets are easily available around the town.

*Coastal Currents is supported by Hastings Borough Council, East Sussex Arts Partnership and Arts Council England.

Posted 14:35 Wednesday, Aug 23, 2017 In: Public Arts

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