Friday, 11 May 2018

Festival 15 - Colden Drystone

Don't forget the performance and film screening of Colden Drystone’s ‘Believing in Time Travel (Moors)’ 2014 at the Forum oSaturday May 12th from 18.30 to 21.15. 
In 2014 during a residency with Cambridge University Colden Drystone undertook a trip back to the landscape of his childhood in West Yorkshire. Over a period of 24 hours he documented the journey from a small cottage on the edges of Oxenhope up onto the moors and eventually to the mythical setting of ‘Wuthering Heights’ – a dilapidated farm house on the very tops of a wild moor where it is said Emily Brontë took inspiration for her famous novel.
Colden spent the night filming and writing under the moonlight and witnessing the rising sun at dawn before heading back to Cambridge to edit the footage and compose a piece that he will be performing this evening alongside the original film.
Profound, funny and at times even absurd ‘Believing in Time Travel (Moors)’ is a heartfelt homage to landscape and childhood and a tribute to the creative force of the imagination that is encouraged and nurtured in the wild places of both.

Interview- Colden Drystone

Can you tell us something about your work in this show and something about how your work has developed over the years.

My work 'Significant Other' is an abstract gold painting that uses gold pigment, greys and whites and the natural light to create a surface that is constantly reimagining itself. In this respect it is about light, space and time. In one way or another all my current work is concerned with these three fundamentals of living but with a specific interest in the role creativity has in helping us experience them better.

What you find most enjoyable and/or difficult about the process of creating art?

The joy comes from the doing. Making something happen is unquestionably a life affirming thing. This can be anything; from covering an entire building in clay to drawing a pencil line 4cm long. The most difficult thing is always in making something that can keep that sense of excitement and originality within it, making it something worth sharing with the world.

What would you like to see the Hastings Arts Forum do in the future?

More live art would be good and a hands on engagement with the studio process for artists working in the area - can the space reflect the liveliness of the artists experience, not just the finished works?

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Festival 15 - Rachel Glittenberg

I’m Not Afraid, I Was Born To Do This
(oil on canvas, 90 x 90cm 2018).

Can you tell us something about your work in this show and something about how your work has developed over the years. 
Using a mix of my imagination, life drawing and photographic references, I borrow elements from history and folklore to explore aspects of the human condition; love, death, sadness, happiness, relationships, and more specifically, how it feels to be a woman in the 21st Century. 

What you find most enjoyable and/or difficult about the process of creating art? 
I find so many enjoyable aspects to painting.  Being in the flow and waiting for the next piece of the jigsaw to be revealed. My paintings are created in stages and I am never quite sure where I am going to be led next. I also love it when I surprise myself with what appears and I can see my work changing.  The challenge of trying something out of my comfort zone, that I wouldn’t normally do. I love the research process and being exposed to new ideas, people, places, things.   The feeling I get when the paint is flowing and it feels like I can’t do a thing wrong. Anything I paint will turn out fine and ideas are abundant.  The difficult part is the opposite of all that. Work doesn’t flow, I get stuck for ideas and can’t seem to get going. It’s at times like that when I will take a break from painting and do some chores, take a walk or look at other artists who’s work I admire, to start filling that creative well back up.

Introspection, oil on canvas
(220 x 140cms, 2018.)

What would you like to see the Hastings Arts Forum do in the future? 
It would be great to see the HAF have more workshops and talks. I have really enjoyed those happening around Festival 15. And possibly partnering up with other visual arts venues, developing an ever widening audience. How about having artists in residence? I think that would be fabulous way of supporting local artists and bring in a new perspective.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

FESTIVAL 15 - Andrzej Jackowski

The Work 

The work of Andrzej Jackowski (born 1947, North Wales) is largely autobiographical, based on his early childhood memories, recollections of a family history in Poland and the feeling of alienation and enclosure that these experiences roused. Using powerful, insistent images from his past he explores ideas of human memory and psyche, both on a personal and more collective level.
Time of the Dream - 7, which features in this show, came out of a Paupers Press commission to produce a book of 52 lithographs - one a week for a year. A sense of this project is in the following quote: 

"..a place of life and death,of disembodiment and sex; a place of things breaking up and being put together again. It is a subconscious land which distils the essence of the self."
Rachel Campbell-Johnston

The Process

Seamus Heaney wrote that for him,writing a poem; "was like dropping a bucket down a well of yourself", most of the time you bring up air, but with patience,trust and hard work you eventually fill the bucket with water. This process (for writing poems or making images) is difficult but when you finally bring up a bucket of water rather then air; there is a feeling that you have come up with something intriguing,haunting; there is some clarity and occasionally great joy.


For more see the two videos below. 

This is an excerpt from Andrzej Jackowski's video commentary for the exhibition Dreams of Here, shown at the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery in 2012. It was a collective exhibition in collaboration with Tom Hammick and Julian Bell.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Festival 15 - Tom Hammick

Painting is a messy, seat of your pants and nebulous kind of thing.
Tom Hammick

Violetta and Alfredo's Retreat, 2015, Oil on linen ©Tom Hammick 
Courtesy of Flowers Gallery London and New York 
all rights reserved Bridgeman Images 2018

Can you tell us something about your work in this show and something about how your work has developed over the years.
Waiting for Time was painted fast, in one night. When the paintings are this quick, and they work, they are just the best, and the way they click together makes the hell of painting worthwhile. It's a miracle when this happens. And the advantages of resolving something so lickety spit is a sort of freshness, despite painting wet on wet, that never happens when a painting takes forever over many revisits in the studio.

I like the way the figures in this painting, while marooned away from the banalities of everyday life are so wrapped up in themselves, despite their shared island paradise, that they don't seem they need each other at all. Or perhaps she needs him less that he needs her as she reads her Neruda and he tries ineffectually to gather supper?

My work has slowly become more painterly over the years. I hope my paintings are less prescriptive, where imagery and titles have become more open ended. This way they have more chance of conjuring up individual aspects of what it is like to be human,  and any personal narratives they might touch on are completed by the viewer. 

Fallout, 2014, Oil on canvas ©Tom Hammick 
Courtesy of Flowers Gallery London and New York
all rights reserved Bridgeman Images 2018

What you find most enjoyable and/or difficult about the process of creating art?
This is a big question. How long have you got?
I am free (sort of) to use my imagination and roam around in my paintings and prints. What bliss that can be. It's a sort of visual equivalent for me of writing a poem. When it works. But it never really works, and the lag and gap between what I see in my imagination and what I end up making is cavernous. But when you get to the point where the painting tells you what to do- that is exciting too. You can end up, if you trust it, in a place where the painting is an equivalent of the intended and imagined image which I am trying to make and to resolve and explore. But painting is a messy, seat of your pants and nebulous kind of thing. Nothing much makes sense, and when you think you have grasped it it slips away.  And much of the time you are responding to an intuition and a feeling so primordial, it's too far from the light of the everyday. 

What would you like to see the Hastings Arts Forum do in the future?
Celebrate seriously good painting and drawing and sculpture and film and music. And leave 'issue based' work and 'anthropological art making' to other drier institutions. 

Smoke II, 2014, Oil on canvas, ©Tom Hammick
Courtesy of Flowers Gallery London and New York
all rights reserved Bridgeman Images 2018

More about Tom and his work 

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Festival 15 - Robin Holtom

This show is a game changer for the Forum.
Robin Holtom

After gaining a Diploma in Art & Design at Chelsea School of Art in 1966, Robin Holtom went to The Royal College of Art and gained an MA in Film and Television. His painting teachers included Patrick Caulfield, John Hoyland and Ken Kiff.  Robin then worked for ten years as an Art Therapist in London and was a Council Member of the British Association of Art Therapists. Whilst there, Robin edited their journal called 'Inscape' for two years. In 1980 Robin moved to Wales and concentrated on painting and sculpture while running residential courses in Wales, Italy and Spain. In 1999 he was elected Associate of the Royal Society of British Sculptors. In 2000 he moved to Hastings where he founded the SoCo Arts Group and was a trustee of the Hastings Arts Forum for three years.

Robin is presently a Board Member of Hastings Creative Ltd, a non profit company whose purpose is to transform a convent in St. Leonard's-on-sea into a School for the Arts.

One of the three curators  of the Festival 15 show (with Charlotte Snook and Matthew Burrows), Robin Holtom gives us a quick precis of his involvement with HAF and how the Festival 15 show came together.  

I have been involved with the Arts Forum as a member and trustee for nearly 15 years before which I was chair of SoCo. This show is a game changer for the Forum. Matthew and Charlotte were rigorous in their selection and hanging and it was an eye opener for me how such different artists could be shown together in such a way that they all look their best. The less is more mantra that is often spoken at Forum shows but not so often practised, has been demonstrated with conviction by this show. Also the fact that so many distinguished artists are willing to show here testifies to the regard the organisation is held in. A voluntary organisation that has been going for 15 years without any government arts funding is almost unique and is a model other towns envy. It depends of course on the generosity of volunteers some of whom devote hundreds of hours a year to the project. I think there is an opportunity to build on this show with more carefully curated shows.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Festival 15 - Alan Rankle

Our next featured artist is Alan Rankle. Here he talks about his art, insects, travel, Norman Road and the shared experiences of dogs and art restorers....  

 Hudson Spring (2017)
 oils on canvas 40x40cm 

Can you tell us something about your work in this show and something about how your work has developed over the years? 
The painting featured in the exhibition Untitled Painting XXVI (Bodiam) 2018 is from a series called Mothland. An evolving theme of these paintings came from my thinking about how various creatures experience the world in quite different ways. For example bats are flitting in the evening landscape focused on sonar. Moths are tuned in to the particular sound frequencies of predators and navigate by the light of the moon. Dragonflies and mayflies live their lives in the air and also underwater and then on the surface membrane of the water. As for your dog…. as well as seeing things only in blue and yellow your dog can hear many sounds you can’t and is of course seeing ultra violet light also…. itself the means by which an expert art restorer can spot a great painting from a fake. 

What do you find most enjoyable and/or difficult about the process of creating art? 
Since I’m interested in landscape painting the work begins with walking and catching ideas. 
I like to talk with writers and some artists I’m close to about the way painting can be a catalyst for noticing symmetries and relationships between all kinds of phenomena. As Shih Tao put it: ‘… in terms of penetration and development, painting is the greatest guiding form in the world.’ 

I don’t find it difficult, except maybe knowing when a painting is complete so I tend to ask someone and as Oska Lappin once said: ‘Well you could just walk away Renee or keep going and cross that line into genius…’ 

Fairlight from the Watermeadows V (2018) 
oils on canvas 91x76cm 

You travel a lot with your work, would you like to tell us about your recent projects?
Two projects I’ve worked on recently are an exhibition curated by Claudia De Grandi and myself for the Fabbrica del Vapore arts centre in Milan which we called Axis: London Milano and designs for six suites of rooms at the Lowry hotel in Manchester in collaboration with Rebecca Youssefi, the architect Veronica Givone and AFK Studios.

You’ve been based in St. Leonard on Sea for a number of years and have seen a burgeoning art scene evolving. Do you feel an affinity with the other artists who live here?
Well a few of them interest me a great deal and we’ve worked together on various projects over the years. The exhibition in Milan featured some artists who’re based here on the coast: Rebecca Youssefi, Oska Lappin, Charlotte Snook, Matthew Radford, OverlapKirsten Reynolds, Walter and Zoniel along with others who have connections to the town like Jake and Dinos Chapman, Cat Roissetter and Stephen Newton.

It seems quite special to be able to just walk down Norman Road to the Russian Cafe and meet up with artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers... what to say…. Bonjour Monsieur Torriset!

What would you like to see the Hastings Arts Forum do in the future? 
I think inviting curators to bring art from other places would be a good idea. Maybe you could link up more with the local museums and do joint ventures. 

Fairlight from the Watermeadows IV (Goya) 2018 
oils on canvas 100cm x 80cm 

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Festival 15 - Jean Davey Winter

Jean Davey Winter: About the work:

A fascination with travel and the concept of the journey provide me with an ongoing source of inspiration. Over the years this has included a microlight flight over the volcanic island of Lanzarote; a road trip through New Mexico, Arizona and Utah and more recently a visit to the island of Cuba, the starting point for this new work.

Cuba has an extraordinary culture, a dense web of associations and contrasts which conjure up words like: seductive, poetic, alchemy and magic. There is a constant awareness that this vibrancy, colour and energy combine and conflict with reminders of a darker past.

Many diverse elements from these experiences are now coming together as the work continues to develop: glimpses of colours and textures and the fragmented memories of travel. It is intentionally ambiguous, hopefully to allow sufficient space for the viewer to bring their own interpretations to it.

Working practice:

Coming from a textile background I enjoy the freedom of working with mixed media. The opportunity to build up surfaces, to combine this with collage plus the fluid qualities and mark making potential of paint; I love the feeling of anticipation – that anything can happen, as a new piece begins.

What I find most difficult is the ‘letting go’, that moment of realisation that some of the bits you have become most attached to have to be sacrificed if there’s any chance of making the painting work – that’s the hard part….

Future hopes for Hastings Arts Forum:

Hastings Arts Forum has been transformed over the ten years since I first exhibited there. There have been major structural improvements to the gallery itself and the whole ethos and ambition of the Forum has become very much more ambitious and professional.

Whilst maintaining it’s commitment to the community I hope it will also continue to thrive and develop with the emphasis on curated shows, both group and solo, and maybe create a series of major annual exhibitions following on from the precedent set by Festival 15.

More about Jean and her work can be seen on her website

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Festival 15 - Matthew Burrows

'Painting is not born out of intelligence but the fine balance between confidence and surrender.' 
Matthew Burrows 

Wall (2017) 
Oil on board 152.5 x 124.5cm 

1. Can you tell us something about your work in this show and something about how your work has developed over the years. 
I am fortunate enough to live and work in the rolling hills of East Sussex, my studio, on the site of an old wind mill, is firmly perched on a ridge between valleys. Despite the beautiful views and clear vistas, my relationship to place is not one of description or nostalgia, but one of dwelling and ritual. It is a process of mythologizing, of drawing meaning from the particularities of the environment, of realising its wilderness and ours.

I’ve always considered myself a painter of people and places, and yet, it's rare to find these fully articulated anywhere in my work. In one sense this is about the problem of metaphor - a picture of a landscape is not the meaning of a landscape and can easily lead to trite illustration. My painting ‘Oasis’, on show at HAF, is a painting of absence, it depicts a structure in a barren landscape that could be an alter or building, a means of display or container of sorts. Beyond the suggestion of a ground and horizon there are few clues to construct a narrative, instead one is left with the density of pigment and colour, the movement of mark and tension across its hard yet porous surface. The title suggests hope in the harshness of the desert, it is the mystic’s landscape of solitude and temptation, a paradise of emptiness and rage, a country of madness and silence.

Single and Divided (2017) 
Oil on board 122 x 94cm

2. What you find most enjoyable and/or difficult about the process of creating art? 
The most enjoyable part of making art is that it asks so much of you, it asks everything, no stone left unturned. Of course, that’s what makes it difficult too. It’s a hard task master, mostly it leaves you frustrated and despondent, months can go by with little or no joy. But there’s something compelling and surprising in its mystery that keeps you moving on.

3. What would you like to see the Hastings Arts Forum do in the future?
HAF plays a significant part in the artistic fabric of Hastings, it gives a sense of place and purpose to artists who live and move to Hastings. Moving forward it would be really exciting to see HAF look again at how it shows work, perhaps taking a more creative approach to the design, layout and structure of the walls etc. It maybe a step too far but an open competition to ask for design solutions to this may create some refreshing and surprising outcomes.

Eclipse II (2016) 
Oil on board 77.5 x 59.5cm

More about Matthew and his work can be seen on his website 

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Charlotte Snook - Festival 15, curator and artist

Charlotte Snook has been living and working in St Leonards since 2001. She studied at Hornsey College of Art and the Royal College of Art, where she got her MA in Painting. She taught Foundation courses across the Midlands before working as a Senior Lecturer in Foundation Studies at Central Saint Martins (2002 to 2009). From 2011 to 2014 she was Chair of SoCo Artists and she and Mary Hooper coordinated the Art in Empty Shops project in 2012. This was a collaboration with Hastings Council and Dyer and Hobbis Estate Agents to provide large scale prints of artists’ work in empty shop windows in St Leonards. Her most recent project was at the Jerwood gallery. She talks about her work in a short and lovely video linked here: To be Continued: Artists in Hastings

Q. How did you become involved with Hastings Arts forum and curating Festival 15? 
As an artist living in St Leonards you can hardly avoid being Involved with HAF, through taking part in exhibitions yourself or supporting friends and fellow artists in their shows. Openings are a great way to meet other artists and do some networking. It’s a very welcoming place. I’ve observed the fluctuations in HAF’s fortunes over the years and am delighted at its current success. I offered to help with the curation.

Q. You are one busy artist! Can you balance time working with others and time you need to work for yourself?
I’ve always found it complementary, whether working with students or fellow practitioners on projects and exhibitions but time management skills are often needed!

Q. Why did you become an artist? Were & are there particular artists who inspired you? 
For as long as I can remember I wanted to be an artist and go to Art School. Finding Van Gogh at an early age was a revelation. There have been so many artists who have influenced/inspired me at different times over the years but constant companions are Goya, Tiepolo and the English satirists, eg Gillray, Hogarth. 

Q. In the video you talk about how your work has developed. Can you say a little more about your work at the present time?
I have a great studio five minutes from where I live. It’s functional and very cold in winter, but there are no distractions. It’s always a joy to be there even if the work is not going well. The paintings I make are small, although to me the size of the picture plane doesn’t matter; I still grapple with the composition, the colour, the quality of the marks, the fluidity of the painted surface, just as if I were working on a much larger scale. There is often narrative, a sequence of the same subject approached in different ways through both drawing and painting. I shamelessly borrow from other artists, Velasquez, Joseph Wright of Derby, Crivelli and others more obscure and when I do I feel part a continuous fellowship of painters through time.
Q. What would you like to see at the Hastings Arts Forum in the future?
I would like to see Festival 15 become an annual event. So next year Festival 16 might be an exhibition showcasing Sculpture or Photography, for example.

Friday, 16 March 2018

FESTIVAL 15 - Celebrating 15 years of the Hastings Arts Forum

Hastings Arts Forum (HAF) was founded in 2003 by a group of artists and art enthusiasts with a shared commitment to support the visual arts in Hastings and St Leonards and to raise the profile of visual culture in the area. The Forum is now a registered charity and runs two adjoining gallery spaces on the sea front.  It is independent of any public funding and is almost totally reliant on its many committed and experienced volunteers. This makes it a space that is unique in Britain. 

The gallery offers professional artists the opportunity to exhibit at reasonable prices and gives all artist members and its volunteers the chance to show their work in annual shows. It develops exhibition programmes and has recently launched a new initiative called 'Rising Talent' where new and emerging artists can show their work in a professional gallery for the first time at no cost.

This year HAF is celebrating its 15 year anniversary by holding an exhibition and a series of events and talks that will showcase the extraordinary quality and range of artists connected with Hastings and St Leonards. Collectively entitled 'Festival 15', invitations to exhibit have been sent to a number of artists whose work has helped build the reputation of Hastings and St Leonards as a centre of artistic excellence. The exhibition will open on May 2nd and the festival will last for two weeks. 
The aim of the festival is to bring attention to the excellence of art on offer in the area.  We will be contacting other local galleries and arts organisations to make sure that this opportunity to gain recognition is all encompassing. The exhibition at the Forum’s gallery will bring together the work of these highly-regarded artists’ work in one place and shine a light on the richness of the arts scene in Hastings and St Leonards.  We are very grateful to Matthew Burrows, Robin Holtom and Charlotte Snook who are curating the exhibition.
Lesley Barker, chair of the Forum’s exhibition committee.

Interviews with participating artists will appear here on the blog in the run up to the festival  so more soon! You can also check in via:

TWITTER       @hastingsarts