Beautiful, grown-up and erudite: Coastal Currents festival returns with sawing and feathers

By Ben Miller | 28 August 2014

Curator’s Choice: Tina Morris, Co-Director of Coastal Currents festival, on this year’s line-up in Hastings

A photo of a series of dark red squares on a wall against a black background
Alice Anderson is one of the star artists in the 15th year of Coastal Currents© Alice Anderson
Reckless Sleepers

“Ladies sawing legs off chairs, that’s the quickest way to describe it. It’s with South East Dance, and hopefully it’ll draw a big crowd in the open air.

Reckless Sleepers is incredibly energetic: it’s women doing a very masculine thing.”

Meltdown

“Meltdown, in contrast to Reckless Sleepers, is all-male. It will be as big as we can recruit for it – 15 would be the smallest number, but we can go up to 30, 35.

It’s all to do with how many men we can get involved – and getting men involved with art pieces, especially if they think there’s movement involved...all of a sudden they run a mile, it seems.

Over the course of about 20 or 30 minutes they go from a standing posture to a melted-to-the-ground posture.

It’s a very slow piece where they’re all individually curling up and moving to this melted point on this floor.

There’s a bell that rings every minute, so it feels almost like a tai-chi piece or a gentle dance piece.

It’s very much in contrast to the dance piece with women: it’s a whole load of men doing a very feminine, slow piece.

It’s been done with very small numbers of people, but we’re hoping to make it bigger than ever in Alexandra Park.”

Frank Boelter

An overhead phoo of a man standing on a white paper ship on a river
Frank Boelter sails a paper ship© Frank Boelter
“He’s sailing a large paper boat out to sea, in a full suit, on the final weekend.

It gradually sinks and then gets towed back by a lifeguard. What’s good about it is that the boat’s made from Tetrapak and all the volunteers, locals and passers-by can get involved with this origami boat. “

Alice Anderson and Kate MccGwire

"Our curator from Brighton, Clare Sheppeard, has been in conversation with Alice and Kate for a while.

Even with funding you need to convince artists to get on board with festivals such as these and it definitely helps that Hastings is punching above its weight, I think, in terms of the arts.

However, with Kate and Alice, they were just looking forward to coming down and creating something new for the town.

All our pieces are open, public realm pieces, free of charge. Both Alice’s and Kate's pieces will be displayed in shop windows and can be viewed by people going out for a drink on Friday night, in passing.

A photo of a load of bird feathers on a floor against a dark green brick wall
Kate MccGwire, Sluice© Photo: Francis Waresmaller
It doesn’t have to take a deliberate trip. Even though we know the plan, they both create a a lot on site, so that’s very exciting.

Kate’s piece is in the basement of St Mary in the Castle. It’s built into the rock face – the Victorians knocked down half of Hastings Castle to make it.

It’s all been renovated over the last 12 months, so in a way this is the first big piece in the beautifully-renovated space.

You can almost shut the space off from the rest of the building, you see. You can have almost anything in there.

We don't know exactly what Kate is producing yet, but she often creates cascades appearing from objects such as drainpipes or containers.

A photo of a series of dark blue bird feathers intersecting each other
Kate MccGwire creates alien forms with feathers© Photo: John Paul Bland
It is definitely going to be a feather-based work. It’s going to be quite large-scale as well.

She really likes working with intricate and ephemeral materials. You’re so used to seeing feathers in flight on a live thing.

That juxtaposition makes you feel a little bit uncomfortable. And then she curls it into tight constructs – you feel sort of strangled.

It definitely comes across as slightly alien. It’s perfect to write reams and reams on – it would be great for a university study, full of contrasts and unsettling.

We spoke to Butler’s Emporium, which is a shop in the Old Town, and they’ve got these beautiful windows.

She’s going to present a couple of her still life pieces in them during the festival."

Roz Cran and film artists

"Coastal Currents itself, run by Creative Coast and Home Live Art, presents a selection of exhibitions and performances over the two weeks of the festival.

But this year we wanted to commission some new pieces to really draw a national audience to see new works by key international artists as well as provide a platform to showcase local creatives.

We decided that with our Arts Council funding we’d really like to commission some new pieces to put us on the map a bit more.

We’ve previously shown a lot of people’s works somewhere else, but we’ve never been able to commission.

We have two commissions by local artists. Roz Cran is creating what I would describe as a human hide which has got various levels of viewing to it.

We’re going to have that at various venues, and you can look through it to see the familiar in a strange light.

We’re really quite well known in Hastings for independent film, so we’ve pulled together a lot of the Hastings filmmakers who never work together and asked them to create something using Super-8 film. That’s going to be shown in the Electric Palace Cinema.”

The opening party

“Zeroh, who recently worked on The Who's tour, are curating the whole opening party for us with three world-class performers and involving people from all over Hastings.

We have a world-famous baritone singer who has previously performed at Sydney House Opera and Glynebourne on our theme of the dawn chorus.

People will enter St Mary in the Castle to darkness and stars and 360 projections, and they move right through to the dawn chorus at the end of the evening.

All of the clothing and costumes will be made by a local lady. People do pull together for this festival.

In the past it’s been council-run and led, but they’ve backed us completely in the last couple of years. That’s a good thing because they’ve allowed us to go with some really strong ideas.

This is our 15th year. It’s a quieter programme, but also a more beautiful and grown-up, erudite programme, I would say.”

  • Coastal Currents runs from August 29 – September 14 2014. Visit coastalcurrents.org.uk for the full line-up. The festival is run by Creative Coast and Home Live Art on behalf of Hastings Borough Council.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

A close-up photo of some grey bird feathers
Kate MccGwire, Vex© Photo: John Paul Bland
A photo of a series of pink paper-like structures on a black table
Anderson often creates her work in a floating studio© Alice Anderson
A photo of a man sitting on a large white ship on a wide river overlooked by trees
Boelter's vessel is destined to sink© Frank Boelter
A photo of men pulling strange shapes on white concrete steps outdoors
Meltdown will take place in Alexandra Park© Photo: Richard Oliver
A photo of a group of men pulling strange shapes under a large tree in a park
Meltdown: about getting men involved© Tony Nandi
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