A three-part interview with Hastings-based Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Artists 2018 winner.By Caf Fean 

Hastings-based artist Becky Beasley enjoys digging into all aspects of the human experience to inform her creative practice, expressing her discoveries through sculpture, installation and photography. She draws our attention to some pressing personal and local concerns. Mental health, the success of the Observer Building with Jess Steele at the
helm and securing the future of Coastal Currents through community action are topics we covered over coffee at her cosy home in St Leonards. 

Part 2: Coastal Currents: rise up!

Becky is using the initial time that the Award for Artists has carved out for her to add her voice to local causes close to her heart, namely the Observer Building redevelopment and the future of Coastal Currents, both cultural markers expressing how fundamental culture and creative collective action are in Hastings and East Sussex. 

“For my portrait for the Paul Hamlyn Foundation I knew right away that I wanted the shoot location to be Bottle Alley and I insisted the image credit always cite the location, Bottle Alley, Hastings, along with the name of the photographer. Bottle Alley’s broken glass mosaic looks so beautiful in the picture. The walkway was recently regenerated and utterly transformed as a public space over two editions of the Coastal Currents festival through commissions by Zeroh Studio. It used to be a semi-no-go area as it was intimidating to walk there after dark. Since Wavelength was produced (the painting of the columns in 2017) and the computerised lighting installed, it is now completely accessible and inspiring to walk it. Zeroh did good historical research to develop the colour coding and palette. 

My own commission for the festival last year was also concerned with local historical research, but manifested very differently to Wavelength. My project, The Seaweed Shop, was about inhabiting the Trinity Triangle independent shopkeepers’ neighbourhood in a chameleon way and making visible some of its invisible and photographic histories. We made a twelve-inch vinyl record in a gatefold sleeve, which was displayed in the record shop, Wow & Flutter, at 8 Trinity Street. The research story of the location formed the contents of the sleeve. These kinds of neighbourhoods have fascinating histories which, when revealed, create amazing spatial and temporal portals into the present.

The local funding cut to zero presents a challenge for Coastal Currents that I hope will provoke it to rise up and grasp its independence, harnessing the staying power of artists living here. It is such an important local event and I have seen first hand how much work is involved in its delivery.”

• Help support Coastal Currents’ future. A crowd funder has been set up and if 1000 people put in £20 a head we could save it. Visit www.gofundme.com/coastal-currents-2019

• See our News story for more on Coastal Currents here.

• Read part 1 here
• Read part 3 here

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