By Nick Pelling 

Sometimes artists get a bad press. They are occasionally depicted as narcissistic types obsessed with their own ideas and neurotic about reviews and, of course, sales. But the
Art Auction held by HIP in December proved all that to be utter nonsense. In fact, the generosity of local artists in their willingness to donate for free was quite staggering. The Auction raised more than £5k. A sum that is a considerable boost to the paper for 2022. A huge ‘thank you’ goes out to absolutely everyone involved.

Curiously, on the day itself, the omens were not good. In the afternoon a storm hit the town and brought such heavy rain and wind that many of us felt no one would brave such elements just for pretty pictures. (On top of that, 7 December was also the 80th anniversary of the Pearl Harbour air raid – not really relevant, but hardly an encouraging sign.) But, amazingly, the weather calmed by late afternoon and the people of Hastings came in search of artistic treasure in great numbers.

Kate and Richard in action

HIP would like to take this opportunity to thank a couple of individuals by name. Dave, the proprietor of ‘The Horse and Groom’ in Mercatoria, was an absolute star: he let us wander in and out of the back room in the days before the auction as we saw fit and really could not have been more helpful. Although at one point on the day of the auction, the pub had to bolt its door to keep the wind at bay. Carrying large paintings from car to pub in the afternoon risked the artwork being flung into the wild air. Another hero of the artistic hour was Richard Fryer, local writer, seafarer and brilliant furniture maker who also, it turned out, was a great auctioneer. He was ably assisted by the multi-talented Kate Tym who engaged the audience with wit and not a little good-humoured verbal prodding.

Pondering the paintwork

The range of art on show was amazing. The auction had everything, from the brilliant to the baffling or bizarre and all stations in between. There were all sorts of paintings from the small and intricate to the vast. There were numerous artists in this field, and among them were Oska Lappin, Katherine Reekie, Russell Baker, Ian Barraclough, James Mackinnon, Tom Banks, Daisy Clarke, Stewart Walton, Robin Holtom, Martin Bradshaw, Danny Mooney, Claudia de Grandi and many, many more. Photography included Ian O’Leary, John Coles, Alex Brattell, Alexandra Vacaroiu, Patricia Webb and Sonny Levitt. Print and mixed media was very lively, including works from Alan Rankle and Laetitia Yhap, Hazel Brook and Peter Quinell but also more pop-punky pieces from Carrie Warrior, Georgie Wheeler, Chris Milton and Jude Montague. Ben Eine’s street art came courtesy of Steph at ‘Stella Dore’ and many thanks to her for that. In what might be called the conceptual category we had the wonderfully intriguing Becky Beasley. Adrienne Hunter’s piece seemed to dynamically straddle drawing and painting. There was also a strong showing in ceramics, from Mudworks, Annabel Faraday, Bernard McGuigan, Liz Emtage and Jane Loftin. We even had a charming cartoon by the late, great Martin Honeysett. Local shops were also generous in donating prizes for the raffle, and Catriona Lafferty was heroic in jumping in, last-minute, to run it. 

In total, more than fifty artists contributed and apologies to those not mentioned due to lack of space. Thanks also to the unsung heroes who did the lugging in the rain and the fixing to the walls. Including Claire-Marie Moore and our own Fiona McGarry, Rod Webb, Kent Barker, Suzie McFie and Ben Cornwell. Overall, as they say in very silly circles, everyone was a winner. 

• See the full list of works for sale here

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