Coastal Currents 2013: Festival brings top artists to Hastings and St Leonards

By Ben Miller | 19 September 2013

When Coastal Currents returns for its 14th year around the shorelines and caverns of the St Leonards and Hastings area this weekend, it will unite everyone from painters and bike decorators to filmmakers and ramblers. It’s a quirky must-see for anyone near Sussex.

A photo of a female performer with a pineapple on her head
Hunt and Darton bring fruitiness to Coastal Currents 2013© Christa Holka
Managed and directed by local group Creative Coast with Home Live Art, this year’s programme is an impressive one. Pineapple-donning tour guides and live artists crammed around shipping containers await visitors during the first weekend alone. Here are 11 to look out for...

Hastings Hullabaloo, St Mary in the Castle, Hastings, September 21

A grand take on the Tardis crammed with music, story-telling, tours and surprises. This one-day special brings together some of the region’s best performers, with the concluding barn dance unlikely to resemble your usual four to the floor.

Hunt and Darton, St Clements Church, Hastings; Norman Road and London Road, St Leonards, September 21

Café proprietors with pineapples atop their scalps and a knowing twinkle in their eyes, these fringe favourites offer a public service for the festival. Show recommendations and a firm answer to any queries are among their specialities, although the accuracy of their advice is, they confess, occasionally dubious.

Bodies in Urban Spaces, Priory Meadow Shopping Centre, Hastings, September 21-22

A photo of two performers balanced upside down in colourful outfits on a street
Bodies in Urban Spaces© Barcroft Media / Lisa Rasti
The chance to be led on a human dance trail through the streets is a rare one, but Austrian choreographer Willi Dorner’s exploration of the relationship between our bodies and buildings is very real – not least for his lithe dancers, who squeeze themselves into doorways, corners and enclaves.

Open Studios, various venues, September 21-22 and 28-29

A treat of a trail along the coast from east to west, you might stumble into studios, wander into hideaways or find yourself in a beach hut during a brush with the region’s talented artists. Look out for Jerwood Drawing Prize nominees and a 1950s engineering workshop.

Outside in: South East, Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, Hastings, September 21-29

This display of outside artists is the brainchild of Chichester’s Pallant House Gallery. The participants have had little or no contact with the mainstream art world, giving an unaffected originality to their works.

Pop-Up Cinema, CC Shipping Containers, Swan Boating Lake, Hastings, September 22

From the Quay Brothers’ 2003 film, The Phantom Museum, to Baked Women of Doubice, Tereza Buskova’s exploration of food-based rituals set in a village in the north of the Czech Republic, these screenings are a chance to see unusual, always compelling works by international filmmakers and four of their Hastings contemporaries.

Underground, Robertson Street, Hastings, September 27-28

Seven well-respected, widely-exhibited local artists are joined by current artists and alumni from Sussex Coast College. Drawing on their End of the World theme from last year’s festival, their influences are Angela Carter, William Gibson, Jean Luc Godard, William Burroughs, JB Ballard, the golden age of TV and our ever-expanding dependence on the digital technology.

Worktable, CC Shipping Containers, Swan Boating Lake, Hastings, September 27-29

Sign in, take instructions and use equipment while wearing safety goggles in Kate McIntosh’s drop-in live installation. The sound of blows and sawing may reverberate, but this is a workplace whose toil inspires rather than bores.

Pier to Eternity, Hastings Pier, Hastings, September 28

An illuminated bike ride to the celebrated art deco De La Warr in Bexhill. Decorate your wheels and enjoy live music as part of the famous building’s monthly art mini-festival, Dear Serge, when you get there.

Walking Stories, Alexandra Park, Hastings, September 28-29

Described as playful and poetic, Charlotte Spencer’s new piece provides an mp3 player and headphones for a venture into a Hastings park creating full of spontaneous fun. A group walk punctuated with surprises, it kindly promises to avoid danger or embarrassment for its crowds.

Search Party – Save Me, Hastings seafront promenade, October 5; De La Warr Pavilion promenade, Bexhill-on-Sea, October 6

Two lonely figures, separated by chasms, attempt to communicate meaningfully using semaphore flags and the help of their audience. Despite the help of large chalkboards, sometimes the messages are misconstrued. Visitors are invited to bring their own stories of longing and displacement.

More pictures:

A photo of a woman standing by a coast carrying a large red and yellow flag
Search Party explores issues of isolation and communication© Jim Banks

A photo of two people crouching down on a path in a park listening to headphones
Walking Stories is a walk with a difference by Charlotte Spencer© Kimbal Bumstead
A photo of a group of people in multicoloured outfits crammed into an urban space
Bodies in Urban Spaces creates an hour-long public dance trail© Lisa Rasti

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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