St Leonards’ #ATownExploresABook festival comprises a multitude of community explorations and one of the best-loved aspects of this emerging two-week spring holiday festival is the outdoor art. Andrew Myers caught up with the artists and community groups preparing to site work outside for this year’s #Crusoe300 exploration from 4-22 April.

Black Winklers making wax foot prints 

Robinson Crusoe is three hundred years old this April, and at Peter Quinnell’s studio in the Old Town, young artists, ‘Black Winklers,’ are casting their feet in plaster to make wax imprints, honouring arguably the key motif in Defoe’s novel, to make an IMPRINT!

This focused busy-ness is matched over at Christ Church C of E Primary Academy, where 135 young artists are creating tile designs on the theme of SHELTER, Emma Harding gearing up to display these beautiful insights on a shelter in Gensing Gardens. The work will be permanently sited in the school playground after the festival.

Over in Warrior Square Gardens, wordsmiths Aruna Vasudevan of The Literary Shed and Erica Smith of Wordsmith are addressing the inequality in Defoe’s novel, written prior to the abolition of slavery, by preparing to scatter insights and thoughts across the park in a variety of media. 

Tiles on the theme of SHELTER – Christ Church C of E Primary 

And down on Lower Promenade, Mark and Isabel Fisher are creating Viewpoints, a selfie booth for teenagers contemplating their flight from the Isle of St Leonards to further education and employment, a key aspect of the contemporary ebb and flow in town. The invitation is to self-film 19 seconds of poetry, prose or music on the theme of ‘viewpoint’ at the selfie booth and upload to Instagram with the hashtag #Crusoe300, acknowledging that Crusoe left home at 19. The invitation is not limited to the town’s younger poets and musicians.

• For more details of all the responses to Defoe’s defining novel this April, check out the What’s On and Diary pages at atownexploresabook.com. Updated daily with new events.

• Trail map available before the start of the festival from all participating venues.


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. It only takes a minute and we would be very grateful.