Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
detail from installation CROSS SECTIONAL TRENCH C4014  John Booth

Detail from installation CROSS SECTIONAL TRENCH C4014 © John Booth

SoCo Artists bring Relics and Rituals to The Crypt

RELICS AND RITUALS, a new show by SoCo Artists, in the Crypt of St. Mary in the Castle. Roz Cran, a member of this group, reviews the exhibition. SoCo Artists is an evolving group of professional artists, based in East Sussex which presents a challenging programme of exhibitions and events.

Blays Mabe Mbida Mpoame  Gillian Metcalfe

Blays Mabe Mbida Mpoame © Gillian Metcalfe

A pair of red eyes meet mine as I enter the Crypt at
St. Mary in the Castle to see the new show by SoCo Artists ‘RELICS AND RITUALS’. The eyes belong to ‘Blays Mabe Mbida Mpoame’ – a wooden sculpture in red, black and cream made by Gillian Metcalfe, which hangs on the first stone wall and greets visitors.

The exhibits in St Mary’s undercroft are a rich mix in many media from members of this art organization. Artists have engaged with this dark place where formerly bodies were buried and relics collected. Paintings, drawings and photographs hang in the ancient bays. Themes range from the political to the reflective.

There are installations in the four arches. A huddle of pale bodies are bunched at the back of one arch.

Breathless  Lynne Bingham and Susan Watts

Breathless © Lynne Bingham and Susan Watts

‘Breathless’ by Lynne Bingham and Susan Watts is a tribute to the hundreds of young people who were sent to Hastings in the hope of a sea cure for TB in the years before Penicillin was discovered. Sadly many never returned to their homes. Some of them were buried in the Crypt of St Mary in the Castle as can be seen by the inscriptions on their graves.

Light flickers over ‘CROSS SECTIONAL TRENCH > C 4014’ an installation by John Booth (illustrated at the top of article). He postulates: an archaeologist from the 4th millennium has excavated a cross section through the layers of history above. In C 21st he finds a deep layer of polymer relics of unknown ritualistic purpose.


Relic Brush  Alex Leadbeater

Relic Brush © Alex Leadbeater

‘Relic Brush’ is a mixed media work on paper by Alex Leadbeater. “After many years of painting life-size domestic objects, this exhibition gave me the opportunity to explore the idea of what we revere and what we take for granted. I am most drawn to everyday things such as jugs, brushes and tools and like to paint them individually as a kind of icon. Often rusty and damaged by use, they are familiar and timeless yet often discarded rather than kept in a museum and I wonder how they will be perceived in the course of history.”




FGM  Angie Braven

FGM © Angie Braven

Next to catch my eye is Angie Braven’s colourful oil painting ‘FGM’ depicting a brutal ritual inflicted on female children. A yellow dog howls.


Subjugation  Jen Painter

Subjugation © Jen Painter

Another disturbing image is ‘Subjugation’. A black and white photograph of a torn and stitched petticoat. Jen Painter said she wanted to show an image that represented the way that misogyny is most visible in our patriarchal society.


detail from Beit Wraec  Carly Ralph

Detail from Beit Wraec © Carly Ralph

Carly Ralph carried out research in the local Shipwreck Museum, a place full of coins and bottles of wine, salvage from wrecks, well worth a visit. Her back lit wall hanging ‘Beit wraec’ reveals ghostly images of three English boat wrecks dating from different centuries.


detail from The Hope  Alan Wright

detail from The Hope Alan Wright

An optimistic note is rung by Alan Wright’s light box ‘The Hope’. This long, bright work, made from kiln-fired painted and stained glass, pictures transition: The Great Dying and Rebirth using images of the three monkeys, cut trees, (after the experience of looking over bridge at Sidley on devastation of Link Road), an hourglass, a portal and a flowering seed. This stained glass links to the religious past of the place.

‘Red Bolster’ is Eugene Palmer’s response to the Vanessa Bell painting ‘Apples’. He has substituted ‘her contemplation of the domestic interior with the garden shed, historically a site of contemplation, but also of retreat’.

Also to be seen are two paintings by Katherine Reekie: ‘King of the Castle’ and ‘Standing Stones’; an ink drawing by Francoise Cooper: ‘Animals: Symbols and Myths’. Felicity Montaigu is showing 2 ink and chalk pieces: ‘Theseus and Phaedra’, ‘Phaedra and Medea threatened by Aphrodite’.

A thoughtful and reflective show in a historic setting.

Exhibition continues until Saturday 10 May. Open 11 – 5pm daily.

Rite to Write, a free workshop for adults inspired by the exhibition will take place in the crypt gallery on Thursday 8 May from 2pm – 4pm facilitated by Rose Miller





If you’re enjoying HOT and would like us to continue providing fair and balanced reporting on local matters please consider making a donation. Click here to open our PayPal donation link. Thank you for your continued support!

Posted 18:11 Thursday, May 1, 2014 In: Visual Arts

Also in: Visual Arts

More HOT Stuff

    HOT is run by volunteers but has overheads for hosting and web development. Support HOT!


    Advertise your business or your event on HOT for as little as £20 per month
    Find out more…


    If you like HOT and want to keep it sustainable, please Donate via PayPal, it’s easy!


    Do you want to write, proofread, edit listings or help sell advertising? then contact us


    Get our regular digest emails

  • Subscribe to HOT