SoCo artists respond to Hastings Museum’s eclectic collection for a new show

“The artist’s eye can see the familiar through a new and alternative lens,” writes Catherine Harvey, Keeper of Art and World Cultures, in the catalogue for the new exhibition as Hastings Museum and Art Gallery. “[Artists] make surprising connections, intriguing juxtapositions and share all sorts of new ideas.”

SoCo Artists are a group based in East Sussex who exhibit frequently together in a range of different venues. They have come together to work with objects from the museum’s collections, or aspects of the histories they touch on, to create new work which will be displayed in an integrated way throughout the museum for the duration of this exhibition.

Sinéid Codd, Chair of SoCo Artists, and part of the curatorial committee for this show writes “several artists view their research as a type of mystery or detective story – something to be solved. But the ‘truth’ is slippery, especially in the ‘museum’, where objects are dislocated from context; where the past is rightly continually re-evaluated in the light of the present, giving us fresh perspectives.”

Image by Sineid Codd

Oona Ball, for example, has been inspired by Charles Dawson’s collection of archaeological fakes to make and integrate a collection of film set props into the display – objects designed only to look like the real object they represent and which serve no other function. Jean Davey Winter’s work had previously come into contact with the Nez Perce tribe, native to North America, and finding evidence of this tribe in the archive, Davey Winter worked with their story as a starting point for her work. Maggie Hentor and Charlotte Snook were both inspired by the ambiguous records photographs can leave for us. Hentor was intrigued by a family photo album which seemed to have people deliberately removed from certain pictures and Snook worked with images which, by facial expression alone, seem to clearly show someone in a specific psychological state, but without any other evidence, it’s possible they do not.

Catherine continues, “It is true that every object has a story to tell, but also that they each have the potential for so many stories, both real and imagined. This is where working with artists proves both so challenging and inspiring, as it enriches the interaction with our collections for all of us involved with and visiting the museum”

The selected ‘Collect’ artists are: Oona Ball, Sinéid Codd, Roz Cran, Jean Davey Winter, Maggie Henton, Adrienne Hunter, Sue Johnson, Alex Leadbeater, Mary Morris, Kathleen Mullaniff, Jim Northover, Carly Ralph, Helen Scalway and Charlotte Snook.

Collect will be open at Hastings Museum & Art Gallery from 7th July-30th  September. Free entrance.
Celebrate the project with the artists at the exhibition preview, on 6th July 6pm-8pm

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