An unusual and thought-provoking socially distanced event on Hastings’ seafront will herald the end of lockdown and the start of summer. Semaphore, a site-specific blend of sound, light and performance, will take place as the sun goes down. The event will highlight exchanges of coded messages from Hastings, East Sussex, to some of the 24 other places on Earth called Hastings.

Created by MSL Projects as part of The Sea Beneath project, Semaphore is described by director, Margaret Sheehy, as “A hypnotic, interactive experience with many parts, exploring what it means to be human on a changing planet.”

Image ERROR by Chris Wainwright at Aldeburgh Beach
PICTURE: Anne Lydiat Wainwright

Developed with a host of local artists, Semaphore combines movement, light, original sound, spoken word, performance, film, puppetry and a choreographed semaphore display from young performers from White Rock Theatre. It revisits and revives work by the late Chris Wainwright, a respected photographer, environmentalist and Hastings’ resident. 

Chris wrote a short essay in 2013 in which he describes how his use of semaphore linked with his concerns about climate change and nuclear power. He says: “In the technological age of the 21st century there is little, if any, significant use of semaphore as a means of communication, and only a small fraction of the population is able to understand it. It is a system based on the use of flags, light wands or simply bare arms held out in a series of positions to represent letters of the alphabet and numbers. If, however, our complex technologically reliant communications systems were to fail or be rendered inoperative due to loss of power, as the result of catastrophic environmental disasters such as floods, earthquakes, acts of terrorism, technical malfunction, hacking etc, then semaphore would be
our only non-technologically dependent form of visual communication.”

Chris’s partner and collaborator, Anne Lydiat Wainwright, recently introduced the work they did together on a series of light works to the Semaphore creative team. A key work was What Has to be Done? a performance light piece made in 2011 on the shoreline at Aldeburgh, a few miles from Sizewell Nuclear Power Station on the Suffolk coast. That piece was made in response to an earlier work by the German artist Joseph Beuys in 1980 called What is to be Done? commissioned by The Demarco Gallery in Edinburgh as a series of interventions and debates about the relationship between nuclear power and alternative technology. 

Semaphore will take place on Monday 17th May at 8.15pm.
The date is Covid and weather dependent so may change. Updates will be emailed to ticket holders. Semaphore is free, although donations are welcome.
Numbers are limited and it is essential to book a ticket in advance on semaphorehastings.eventbrite.co.uk Book soon to receive event updates and interactive content via mobile phone. 


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