ERICA SMITHcredit Colin Nash

There is so much going on in Hastings and St Leonards that sometimes I dream of moving to London for a quieter life.

16 years ago, I moved ‘Over From Brighton’, and I’ve watched the town change. Whilst each wave of incomers likes to think that they are bringing culture to a stony beach, they are just adding another layer to the history. I love stories of the pioneering creatives of the ’70s and ’80s – the barefoot saxophonist Min who played with the Jazz Caverners, Huggy Leaver who led the Teen Beats and somehow avoided death by overdose (unlike many of the Hastings punks), and Fiona Pitt-Kethley, the erotic poet who fled from St Leonards in 2002 for a warmer life in Spain.

In 1990, Jonathan Meades presented a TV series called In Search of Bohemia which celebrates the extraordinary character of our town – the unfinished architecture inhabited by artists like Mick and Trish Rooney, Laetitia Yhap and Angie Braven and Gus Cummins. You can find his praise song to Hastings on YouTube.

All these people contributed to our town, and continue to. They paint and write and sing and invent festivals and commemorate dead fishermen with drinking games and daft tournaments. Hastings is a town which has always made its own entertainment – rich veins of graffiti, illuminated bike rides and fancy-dress parties.

When I moved here, I felt privileged to be welcomed into ‘old Hastings’. Unlike Brighton, people of different ages and proclivities and experiences talked to me. But I realised that they didn’t always know each other. I set up an email list called Hastings Creative Media Community – now Hastings Creatives. It started with eight members and now there are nearly 1000. The website is soon to be re-vamped – with support from Hastings Borough Council. Real-life events are also being planned so the latest waves of creatives can start conversations in person, as well as on-line. 

Follow this link, sign up and join the discussion:

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