By Helen Drake

If you have not paid a visit to Hastings Museum & Art Gallery recently, or if you have never been, you really should go. Apart from an amazing array of artefacts from pottery to puppets, a mod scooter and some beautiful paintings, there are currently two shows running: Bob Mazzer In Camera: A Retrospective and Together We Draw. It reminds us, once again, of the wealth of creative talent in this town.

Photographer Bob Mazzer moved to Hastings from London over 30 years ago and has built up a substantial body of images of the town. He went to Hornsey College of Art in the 60s where his love of photography began, and has worked as a professional ever since, but the photographs in this exhibition portray a more personal viewpoint.

Woman on Phone by Bob Mazzer

(left) Portrait of a Girl with Horns; (right) Man with many bags by Bob Mazzer

Bob says, “I am a diarist photographer. My camera is a means of recording my day and my night.” This is evident from the eclectic array of work, ranging from portraits to land and seascapes, to rock concerts and the London Underground.

Bob’s love of life and people is clear, as is a sensitive side, though never overly sentimental. He puts as much care, if not more, into a shot of a homeless man – Rough Sleeper, surrounded by bags and bags of belongings – as he does into his nature shots. That photograph is contrasted with one below of Sheikh Abid Gulzar standing proudly on
the pier he owns in front of his gold V8 Turbo Mercedes which, Bob comments on the plaque, looked too vulgar in colour, so he printed it in black and white.

Those of us who have lived in Hastings for a long time will recognise many of the places and people that Bob has photographed, but what is refreshing is the omission of the locations that are commonly used to represent Hastings: the net huts, the fishing boats, the funicular and so on – though the beach does make a regular appearance. 

One of the most beautiful images, almost painterly, is Dark Beach, featuring a bank of dark indigo and grey clouds beyond which can be seen Beachy Head.Above that is a sunlit sky, sun rays down to the sea with a band of pinky orange on the horizon to the left, and the sea below lit up in places by the sun.

Another is a particularly intimate portrait of Bob’s wife, Jen, who bears a resemblance to Isabella Rossellini, standing against a backdrop of foliage, and the plaque says she is pregnant, though they didn’t realise it at the time.

There are many other delights to behold, from a particular penchant of Bob’s for images of loved-up couples – it makes him happy – to a gorgeous shot of the Hale-Bopp comet (1997) taken from inside his house through a window, to numerous photographs of the London Underground.

Bob Mazzer In Camera: A Retrospective is at the Hastings Museum until 17 April
Museum website: 
Together We Draw will be reviewed in the next issue.

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