Friday, 2 December 2016

Hastings Arts Forum - Creative Christmas

It's that time of year again and the Hastings Art Forum has been beautifully transformed into a mini Christmas market. 

Hastings and St Leonards have been given several 'London'  monikers recently - Shoreditch on Sea....  Walthamstow on Sea - so I may as well jump on that bandwagon and say that the Hastings Arts Forum Christmas Show looks a lot like Camden Market on Sea! 

All the arts and all the crafts are represented as well as all the materials. There are cats, hats, cards, scarves, paintings, photos, prints and collage. There are bangles, bracelets, baskets, bears, bags, bowls, books, badges, lampshades and lavender bags. There are dogs, decorations, ornaments, cushions, clocks, mirrors and mosaics.

Between them is a dizzying array of methods and techniques in glass, wood, china, paper, wool. felt, fur, wire, silver, canvas, paint and plastic and no doubt several things I've missed.  

There is also the most awesome Christmas tree I have ever seen. Not actually sure it's for sale but was so inspired by it I may try and make my own!

Creative Christmas at the Hastings Arts Forum
1st - 23rd December
Private View: 2 Dec, 6.30 - 8.30pm 
Creative Christmas is a curated show, exhibitors are selected based on the quality and uniqueness of their work ensuring a broad range of beautiful, high quality artefacts.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Kate Gritton, Valerie Grove, Wheel N Come Again!

Kate Gritton works with oils, acrylics, sometimes plaster and all sorts of other things to create deeply layered works in which mesmerising surfaces emerge from a long process of painting and working on the canvas. Her prints and collographs likewise emerge from such a layered process. The suggestions of movement in her work are on a large scale. Slow and powerful shifts of the forces of nature that are never still but are only noticed when they become so dramatic they impact on human life.

As well as the paintings there are a series of prints each contained within identical, square white frames. The contrast between the whiteness of the frames and the deep, earthy colours and shadowed darkness in these prints works is very effective with each piece a window into another world.

These are really two very interesting artists to put into the same show. Their work complements the other beautifully.  Both use contrast in light and dark very effectively and both use a lot of earthy and natural tones. In the case of Valerie Grove these tones are direct, as her working substances are barks, leaves and wood fibres with the thickly applied paint steeped in natural materials to create its own unique and delicate shade and texture. As you approach each work the textures come into focus and this creates quite a spectacular impact especially with three stark, geometric monochromes.

Wheel N Come Again - an Afro-Caribbean Arts and Film Programme

Gallery Two is full of stories. 'Wheel N Come Again' is a programme of connecting films, paintings, photographs and installation that creates an environment to reflect on the human and familial experience of migration over generations. As such it looks at identity as a construct of individual relationships and experiences in and between different national contexts. The title is a Jamaican expression that relates to the past and how it is remembered, perceived and interpreted to provide knowledge and to allow a continuity of individual and collective memory. This can be distilled into three words: Rewind. Replay. Review.

The multimedia 'Border Ritual' which is a pastiche of the interrogative repetition of border encounters, is set out in its own little retrospective and very atmospheric scene. Each individual aspect of the project is presented in several different but interlinking forms. This includes a zoetrope, revolving on a vintage Bush turntable, which contains images repeated in video and as prints. The audio soundtrack to the video is also accessible by placing the needle on the record which is quite a thrill.

The dialogue between the past and the present here is very clear as it is in the series of photographs hanging throughout the centre of the gallery, each of which have a very personal accompanying letter that relates to the people and the time in each image. What strikes you most as you enter the gallery, however, is the very contemporary drama and life that leaps out of the bright and vibrant colours of a wall of paintings although these too have links to the symbols and motifs of cultural history.

This is an ongoing project in which the four artists (Carla Armour, Farah Way, Tokini Fubara, Akila Richards) create and develop work in response to the film programme which includes full length features and documentary pieces, as well as several shorts. All are available to view in the gallery and there will be evening screenings next week. For more info and screening times check here: Wheel N' Come Again.

Surface Tension
Wheel N' Come Again
Hastings Arts Forum
November 1st - 13th
Private View November 4th - 6.30 -8.30 

Monday, 31 October 2016

The Big Draw at the Hastings Arts Forum

I missed the Big Draw which is a shame. I came into the Hastings Arts Forum this morning and got to see the last few pieces from the Big Draw before they were all taken down and packed away. I really wish I had seen more now - they are colourful, spontaneous and fun but also connected to the serious realities of the present. This is all that remained hanging up today so just a few pictures I'm afraid.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Roberto Landin Solo at the Hastings Art Forum

Unusually for the Hastings Art Forum, the next two weeks will feature just one artist in the whole two-gallery space. It is not easy for a single artist to fill up this much space with consistently good or interesting work, especially at short notice, so what Roberto Landin has achieved here is really quite spectacular.

Gallery One is hung with large paintings that use simple and harmonious spectrums often containing metallic hues to reflect the light in the room. The paintings are the newest works of Roberto Landin and four of them were made especially for this Hastings Art Forum show.

They are accompanied by a totem of brightly coloured ceramic skulls that complement the use of colour in the room. A smaller totem of green seems to form a single piece with the painting behind it, while shiny, white skulls, cones and other decorative ceramics, beautifully glazed or part-glazed, sit almost in piles on ascending plinths.    

This gallery is a showcase for the artist’s colour sensitivity in paint and for his skill as a ceramicist. The combination of colours, objects and shapes and the way in which they are arranged has left nothing to chance and it looks fantastic.

From the seamless arrangement of Gallery One you step into the equally seamless Gallery Two. The room is made dark by blackout curtains and is lit entirely by hanging and sculptural light installations that cast a delicate, subterranean neon glow. Entering this room you encounter four massive sculptures of human bodies that are very far from the idealised and unrealistic norm. All are beautifully lit and their equally massive shadows rise majestically up to the ceiling above.

This room is composed of earlier works. The oldest is a huge canvas of two figures, one with a protruding tongue, painted over the pages of a bible. The tongue is a motif that recurs in several different forms including an intimate video installation viewed in soft orange focus through a perspex box. It also features in two mirrored works - one contains a circle of sacred hearts, tongues and organs fused into one object, while the other has two rows of disembodied tongues chattering into infinity.  

This gallery has an element of circus sideshow in which the audience comes to see a spectacle, possibly something grotesque, that reaffirms perceptions of their own normality. However, as soon as they step inside they are part of the show and the boundary between what is perceived as normal and what is not ceases to exist. Such merging of art and audience is underlined by the fact that Roberto Landin is also a performance artist and there are two performances scheduled.

The first will be a meditation on sound in which the audience is asked to understand sound as something physically felt rather than heard. This will explore how the body resonates with sound and how that connects to the emotional catharsis often associated with music. Performance times are is 12pm to 4pm on Saturday October 8th.

The second will be a meditation on gender. The artist will appear androgynous and will sit facing an empty chair. Members of the audience can sit opposite the artist for as long as they wish. No words will be exchanged. The point is to feel and reflect on what you have seen using the artist’s performance persona as a projection board for your own response.This will take place from 12pm – 4pm on the following Saturday October 15th. 

What is contained in the two galleries is pretty much the entire creative output of Roberto Landin since 2010, which gives the show the feel of a small retrospective. However, it also reflects a very contemporary artistic practise. This is not an exhibition so much as a complete artist environment which makes it as contemporary as it gets. It is something for the visitor to experience rather than to view and has the potential to transform, particularly in the context of the performances. It may also transform some perceptions of what art can or should be. Not one to miss. 

Roberto Landin 
From Light to Dark
4th October – 16th October

Private View:  Friday 7th October - 6.30 - 8.30pm

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Paperworks at the Hastings Art Forum

Paperworks at the Hastings Art Forum
20 September – 2 October

Private View: 23rd September 6.30 - 8.30 

Traditional expectations of works on paper are drawing or watercolours. However, this group exhibition completely overturns any conservative notion of how paper should be used in art. The only works that appear to be watercolours in this show are far from traditional and the drawing consists of graphite renditions of rubbed pavements reassembled into huge paper rolls.

This is a celebration of one of the oldest, most flexible and varied materials we have. It is paper as a means to convey images in multiple forms, as a material for sculpture or installation and as recycled object transformed from practical to conceptual use. In the latter category, for example, books such as the one below must be opened by the viewer to make sense.

The beautifully produced concertina artist books of Nikki Davidson Bowman are collages of images and words perfectly bound into multi-dimensional art objects. Caroline Sax's tiny sculptures are unrecognisable as paper and seem to be made of a different and harder substance altogether.

There is a humorous nod to the subject in several of Ian Barraclough's prints, particularly his depiction of the unique qualities of the final sheet on 9 different toilet rolls.

Gill Streater's work reminds us of the importance of paper to calligraphy while Helen Rawlinson uses paper like a textile on which to add thread, buttons and colours to create small and imaginative abstracts.

Collage features in several guises in this exhibition. The pop art sensibilities and clean minimalism of Duncan McAfee, the apocalyptical colour and atmosphere of Kate Gritton and the surreal compositions of Jeff Stancliff which are compelling, mysterious and not entirely comfortable to view.

As always with such a large group show there is too much to comprehensively preview plus the detail in the works cannot possibly be conveyed here. So to conclude here are images that cover all the participants with their websites following below.

Paperworks at the Hastings Art Forum
20 September – 2 October
Private View: 23rd September 6.30 - 8.30

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Silver Fish, Vermin and Volunteers

Silver Fish and Vermin

“We both live in the middle of the countryside surrounded by all sorts of vermin (rats, foxes, fly-tippers etc). It is hard to find beauty in everything and vermin definitely bring out emotion and reaction where ever they appear. Everyone has their pet hate, hopefully our exhibition will be able to shine a humorous light on some.” Liz Boast and Kirsten Wilson

Unlike many of the exhibitions at the Hastings Art Forum Silver Fish and Vermin is truly a joint show. Liz Boast and Kirsten Wilson’s work is arranged together throughout the gallery and includes a wonderful collaborative piece entitled ‘The Alphabet of Vermin’ which is composed of 27 individual works. This alone deserves time and close study to take in the details, the stories and just the sheer fun and scope of the piece.

In fact, studying the intricacy and detail in much of the work in this show is very rewarding. Kirsten Wilson's multi-layered paper pieces give a sense of just how much time and patience is invested in the act of creation while Liz Boast's atmospheric paintings and sometimes surreal prints add mood and mystery as you move around the gallery.

Both artists are multi-skilled and this exhibition covers all facets of their work. As well as paint, print and mixed media both are excellent silversmiths. This means the inclusion of a contemporary jewellery collection beautifully presented on woodblock stands which are lovely objects in their own right.

Consequently there is a lot in Gallery 1 to keep you entertained. Silver, wood  and a delightful tumble of creatures and landscapes with flying birds, harlequins, schools of swimming fish, strange children, rats, circular zodiacs and ghostly figures emanating light.

The Volunteers Show

The joy of multiple diversions continues into Gallery 2 which is hosting the annual exhibition for volunteers at the Hastings Art Forum.

Almost all of the volunteers at the Forum are artists in their own right. There are painters, photographers, printmakers, sculptors, ceramicists, glass artists and others who are some and possibly even all of the above. Without the volunteers the forum could not function and this annual exhibition is a thank you and a way for the volunteers to get together as artists rather than all the other roles they perform behind the scenes.

I have to declare a conflict of interest here. I am a volunteer at the Hastings Art Forum which means I have some of my own work in the show and know many of the other people exhibiting. So when I say that this is absolutely the most excitingly diverse and brilliant exhibition you will see at the Forum this year, you probably need to take it with a pinch of sea salt. Not too much, however, because this really is an exciting show.

In fact, there is so much to talk about I don't know where to start so instead of talking  I am just going to name all the participants with links (where I could find them) and post up a whole load of photos. These cannot convey the detail, the subtlety, the humour or the range of subject and form but it will give a sense of the skill and diversity that you can see here. It’s wonderful :)

Silver Fish, Vermin and Volunteers

Private View: 9th September - 6.30 - 8.30

Both shows run from 6th Sepember – 18th September

The Volunteers

Alice Maylam           April Yasamee         Carlen Fritze
Caroline Sax           Charlotte Morris       David Murphy 
Dawn Timmins        Edwina Truelove     Gill Streater
Howard Seaton       Jen Painter             John Hacker
John Plummer         Julie Willard            Kate Gritton
Katherine Reekie    Mark Border            Molly Durman
Sally Meakins         Sharon Moore         Susan Miller 
Suzy Tinker            Trish Kilczewski      Valerie Grove