By Mia L 

Photohastings is a creative photographic umbrella, with a self-initiated remit to develop creative and cultural opportunities for photographers in Hastings and St Leonards. Photohastings – Part 1 is the first of a month long exhibition, which features the work of six photographers from this innovative group of local artists.

In the opening section of the show, photographer Ian Land explores Britain’s current socio-political climate.

The Land of Cockaigne: Travels Through Brexit is a visual depiction of Land’s literal journey, on foot, from Hastings to London. Disillusioned with Brexit and the subsequent division it has evoked, Land’s series of austere black and white images convey a desolate and fractured Britain. Derelict landscapes littered with ‘Keep Out’ and ‘Private’ signs appear cold, almost authoritarian in tone. Urban spaces lie vacant, seemingly abandoned by any prior inhabitants. Land’s work is striking in its capacity to portray a nation in turmoil and one man’s place within this.

Gang of Three concludes the first part of the Photohastings exhibition and showcases the work of Brian Rybolt, Bob Mazzer and John Cole.

Redlands Fort-6 by Brian Rybolt

Brian Rybolt’s show is inspired by the seemingly dystopian waterways of The Medway Estuary and The River Thames. Disused towers (once part of a now defunct military defence system) are captured with immaculate precision, as grandiose structures rise from the water below. Rybolt’s work is defined by his ability to portray the neglected and disused in a manner seemingly devoid of time and place.

Bob Mazzer’s photos provide a detailed insight into a rich array of subjects from across the social hierarchy. His work is underpinned by a subversive and at times almost voyeuristic approach. Images of drug-fuelled revellers at a music festival in the 1970’s are juxtaposed with quiet portraits, captured at dusk. Mazzer’s work is vibrant and spontaneous in style, presenting an unflinching portrayal of the human condition, imperfections and all.

Photographer John Cole with his work

John Cole’s specifically curated images are a purposeful response to the media’s hostile portrayal of the AIDS crisis in the 1980’s. Cole spent thirty years working as a photographer within the U.K health industry. His images are part of a much broader body of work and present a dignified insight into the devastating legacy of AIDS. Cole’s poignant visuals give a much needed voice to some of the most marginalised in society, whilst also conveying an overarching sense of hope for generations to come.

Photohastings – Part 1 is an insightful exhibition of great depth and creative merit. It ran from the 29th October-10th November 2019.

Photohastings – Part 2 runs from the 12th-24th of November 2019. The second part of the show features work by Roger Hopgood and Steve Barnes, details of which can be found via the Gallery at Hastings Arts Forum

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