Phil Holden arranging Araeens fabricated cubes_
Phil Holden arranging Araeens fabricated cubes_

Rasheed Araeen is a London-based artist of Pakistani origin. His works are shown across the globe exploring the idea of ‘Art as a process of transformation within the everyday.’ This year sees Rasheed’s work on display at many of the biggest art events – the Documenta, Art Dubai, Frieze London and the Venice Biennale.

The production of his major work, ‘Zero to Infinity’, has been managed by sculptor Peter Fillingham, with the help of Hastings joiner and steel craftsman Phil Holden. An exciting story of collaboration and co-production; this involved the construction of 100 wooden, minimalist cubes, painted in 4 different colours. The cubes will be laid out at the Venice Biennale in four blocks of colour. The audience break the symmetry and participate in the work, becoming part of a bigger picture. Phil has lived in Hastings for 10 years. His first job was as a silk screen printer. He then worked for an architectural metalwork firm, making candlesticks for the Royal Family and other high end commissions. “I got into the building game for a bit, before going self-employed. I see my work as problem solving.” He tells us if the cards had fallen differently he’d have been a good architect. Phil has enjoyed taking up the challenge of delivering this important artwork.

Peter Fillingham shows me his studio, where he works out how to reproduce and create the artist’s pieces. He is a sculptor who has worked and taught in many places, including Paris, London and Canterbury. He is new to Hastings and finds the town highly stimulating for artistic creation. “I’m not a fan of everything being kept in London. The production of artwork doesn’t happen in the epicentre as is commonly assumed.” A lot of exciting work is happening beyond the beltway, in buzzing places like Hastings.

Peter explained why working with local craftspeople was so important to him for this commission: “I could have asked who Rasheed’s fabricator was and ordered a repeat batch from them, but that didn’t sit right with me somehow.” Instead, he asked locally for help and found Phil, who needed to expand his workshop space to take on the job of fabricating and painting more than 100 cubes. Work began last winter, involving late nights when the workshop was so bitterly cold sometimes that the glue wouldn’t even dry. Phil persevered and achieved: the component parts of this playful and engaging artwork were shipped safely to Venice. That’s how two artists and a local craftsman put Hastings on the world stage.