Local Artist Andrew Harston worked as a successful mechanical design engineer for 12 years before realising that kind of life just isn’t what satisfies him. Eventually, he made the decision to drop the security of a well-paid and regular job to risk freelancing so he could pursue his artistic interests. In his own words, “I would look out of the office window and wonder what possibilities lay on the other side of the glass”. Partly music – he’s great on a piano – but his progression beyond the glass barrier is perhaps crystallised in drawing and painting.

The Nightstand by Andrew Harston

A trip to the ‘Calais Jungle’ refugee camp ignited Andrew’s passion and creativity in a kind of spiritual awakening: he spends much of his time now exploring human connection, and the way art can bring people together, heal their wounds, express their deepest and dearest experiences.  

This spirituality can be seen partly in Andrew’s recent exhibition at HIP’s new haunt, the Crippled Badger (next to Bay Spice, on a corner, roughly opposite the Pier), which considers some of the people who use Dom’s Food Mission (check out www.domsfoodmission.com), revealing aspects of their humanity through portrait. In these works, Andrew masterfully translates his subjects’ stories into facial contours, indicating an impressive skill and empathy. At the same time, the drawings allow empty space, and through it communicate an isolation, an absence, a lack that must surely be felt by the homeless human, never fully sure where their next meal will be found, whether their survival needs will be met.   

Marina, Hastings by Andrew Harston

His latest exhibition will bring together samples from years of his landscape painting, to go on show at Ruby’s Rooms (54 Eversfield Place), an art and design-led guesthouse. There they will act as ambassador to the many creative luminaries who pass through the doors on their way to Hastings’ galleries, theatres and manifold other attractions. 

In his paintings, he expresses a style and appreciation for space similar to Edward Hopper. His ‘the Night Stand’,showing a view from Hastings Pier, is reminiscent of something like ‘New York Movie’ or ‘Nighthawks’, evoking that same sense of loneliness in an urbanised – and so theoretically well-connected – world. The Ruby’s Rooms private view will be on 21st March. 

You can find some of Andrew’s other landscape work at See Spray Gallery on Queens Road.  His ink and acrylic landscapes, like the portraits, provide a fresh and clear perspective on their subject. Colour is used only where necessary – encouraging certain feelings in a shared sky, above a detailed black and white world below. There’s an on-going, though sometimes more subtle theme of isolation with much of Andrew’s work: the need to recognise, appreciate and collectively overcome it.  

Follow Andrew on Instagram @andrewharstonart

We hope you have enjoyed reading this article. The future of our volunteer led, non-profit publication would be far more secure with the aid of a small donation. You can also support local journalism by becoming a friend of HIP. It only takes a minute and we would be very grateful.