PhotoHastings was back at the Stade Hall, Hastings in July, showcasing 15 members’ collective work
in an impressive summer exhibition curated by Chris Coombes and Clare Hocter. ALEXANDRA WHATLEY
went to have a look.

The exhibition generally represents the members’ latest work – exploring intertwined stories of space against the background of a pandemic that has shifted our perception of what personal, professional and environmental ‘place’ means to us. Unplanned, even here, the exhibited work interacts with the physical space of the gallery and the natural elements outside it. The sun creates a light trail up to the left corner of the room, highlighting the sea surprised by Jeremy Llewellyn-Jones, whilst the wind plays with Sinéid Codd’s reflective objects, changing their angle and inviting us to pause, look – as she states in the title of her work. 

Saint Leonards Festival by Ian O’Leary

From celebrating suffragettes with Louise Whitham to crowd watching in Saint Leonards with Ian O’Leary, the exhibition is a carousel of emotions, offering a plethora of questions and answers on the topic of ‘place’. What does ‘my cup of tea’ mean? Do grey clouds predict that a threat is coming? What does the sea mean to us today and will we ignore its unjust power? Holiday or survival? Is destination an unexpected journey? Do we appreciate the free things in life? What will we learn from this?

Ian Land’s walks along the Sussex and Kent coast whilst Brexit is unfolding take an alien, distant look at familiar landscapes. Abkr Rastan’s images take us from Syria to St Leonards-on-Sea, inviting us to visually inhabit a space that explores both the absence of humans and the presence of light. Caoimhe McDonnell makes a parallel between coastal erosion and constant change, while Frank Francis questions whether the reader will follow the plot of accidental juxtapositions. Rod Morris entices our imagination with a shot reminiscent of a film noir still – we are left to ponder whether we are looking in the right direction. 

The group has an annual festival programme with opportunities for mentoring and workshops. Although lockdown has affected the normal working dynamic because of national restrictions, the members have met online and continued their creative practice. You can see the exhibition photographs and get more information about PhotoHastings on their website and Instagram.

Contributing photographers are : Sinéid Codd, Chris Coombes, Derek Cottrell, Frank Francis, Clare Hocter, Basil Jaber Alsheikh, Tracy Jones, Ian Land, Jeremy Llewellyn-Jones, Caoimhe McDonnell, Rod Morris, Patricia Morrow-Webb, Ian O’leary, Abkr Rastan, Louise Whitham. 

A 36-page book of the exhibited photographs with text can be purchased via the Silverhill Press website Instagram: @photohastings Facebook: @photohastings 

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