With Coastal Currents’ Open Studios featuring so much to see, HIP has enlisted three local artists to help navigate the delights on offer. Lorna Crabbe, Sarah Lloyd and Alan Rankle share which of this years’ open studios they’re most looking forward to.

Art by Lorna Ormonde
Art by Lone Ormonde

The three artists’ studios I have chosen to focus upon for this years’ Coastal Currents open studios season, all use their imaginations to do something very special.

Lone Ormonde has been living quietly in Hastings for decades, making exquisite small sculptures, collages and paintings and raising her family. She shares her lovely house next to Alexandra Park with her son Sean Ormonde (also an exceptional artist) and the whole space is overflowing with magical pieces, box tableaus, and compelling, small hand-held objects. Ormonde’s family came from the tiny island of Bornholm, off Denmark, and interestingly her work opens us into intense, deep, intimate spaces which remain simultaneously modest and remote. Cecil Collins was her tutor and her fools, harpies, horned heads and hybrid nature spirits have a similar quality of timelessness, but Ormonde infers a pantheistic land based cosmology and the sacred processes of the living psyche as reference points more than any religious identity. I feel instantly more in love with life when I see her work.

Marie-Louise Miller’s work at the Old Chemist in Silchester Road, is complex beauty making friends with transience. Her meditative, colourful paintings arise from her rich inner awareness, from living in landscapes, and from vivid relations with the ongoing flux of inner and outer time and space. She paints in systematic layers of attuned scanning. Be it flower, mountain, landscape or human, the paintings emerge as an outcome of her ‘being with’. They are part observed, part remembered, part felt and interpreted; as our living awareness is when we are in it. I always come away from her work amazed by her sensitivity to the small and subtle within larger structural relationships. Her recent series, ‘The Tai Chi of Flowers’ is currently in her studio, alongside her ‘Glitch’ series, where we see the energetic forces behind form, erupting onto previously orchestrated surfaces as mysterious interference patterns.

Bob and Claire Humm’s working space nestles under the Fire Hills in beautiful Tackleway. Famous locally for their capacity to transform themselves into astonishing embodiments for the annual Green Man celebrations, think extraordinary costumes and hats, entire body suits made of leaves and feathers, here is magical making of another order. Bob Humm is also a practising ventriloquist and around the studio you can see creations from his various performative incarnations. Thrillingly this year, he has transformed his ‘Doors building’ pop up cinema space into a five seater for Open Studios and will be screening new short films. The Doors building evolved out of remembering his father constructing a shed entirely of left over doors in his allotment. The realisation that each of the four doors opened up a new aspect of the same space obviously made a huge impression, and now Humm gifts us the same insight. How we imagine open or closed spaces of possibility is what gives us our sense of reality, a hugely timely metaphor as we contemplate capitalism’s seductions and the bleak sucked out spaces it leaves behind itself.

In a fast media-image saturated world, restless from displaying the uncontained,  and awash with easy cynicism, I love these artists because their work reminds me of the power and resourcefulness of human nature. They use all their skills to manifest creativity as imagination-in-process, thoroughly engaged with re-visionings, transformation and proper life-enhancing alchemy. Their work is full of soul intelligence, playfulness and heart. It is restorative and rejuvenating because it is founded on their honest awareness and respect for what is hard to say or know, and their unfaltering commitment to go ahead and try anyway.

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