Hastings Contemporary confirms reopening date and new exhibition

Hastings Contemporary has confirmed it will re-open on May 27 with a spectacular summer blockbuster show Seaside Modern which celebrates and explores the relationship between artists and the beach from the 1920s to 1970s.

Hastings Contemporary
Hastings Contemporary

Spokesman Ian Roberts said: “Marking the beginning of summer and the hopeful and happy return to a better way of life, this exciting exhibition of more than 60 artists and designers works will look at the broader social and cultural phenomenon of the British heading to the beach in ever greater numbers.

“A cornucopia of visual mastery awaits our audiences in Hastings, including paintings, sculptures and drawings produced by many of the most revered artists of the 20th century such as L S Lowry, Richard Eurich, John Nash, Laura Knight, William Roberts, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. These exceptional talents are drawn together by special guest British curator James Russell to create a spectacular new show in the historic shoreline gallery.

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Seaside Modern exhibition draws together a remarkably large group of artists, reflecting the Genuine Artistic Moment of a fifty-year period in the 20th century, during which artists were drawn to the beach, but for varying reasons and with very different results.

“The views of the beach and coast are produced in different styles and convey different moods and psychological states of mind. Works of traditional subjects including fishermen, boats and the harbour are presented by Eric Ravilious, John Minton and Prunella Clough and there are experimental works, which draw inspiration from the strangeness of the shore, with works produced by John Nash, Edith Rimmington, Eileen Agar and Bill Brandt.”

Guest curator of Seaside Modern James Russell said: “I am thrilled to be bringing Seaside Modern to Hastings Contemporary: the perfect venue for an exhibition celebrating art and life on the beach.

“During the 20th century the seaside inspired fabulous works of art by LS Lowry, Eric Ravilious, Barbara Hepworth and countless others. But this exhibition also celebrates the social revolution that gave millions of people the opportunity to enjoy their day at the beach. As we emerge from lockdown, Seaside Modern will serve as a timely reminder that life really can be fun.”

Ian added: “Hastings Contemporary is also delighted to announce that our gallery artist patron Sir Quentin Blake’s topical and much lauded exhibition We Live in Worrying Times is set to re-open with new works included, marking a brighter and more optimistic period in the country’s turbulent times.

“Sir Quentin’s exhibition during the lockdown was viewed by audiences from around the world via the gallery’s robot, which was a unique partnership with Bristol Robotics Lab and continues to make headlines around the world and delight visitors unable to visit due to Covid restrictions or isolation and disability.

“The gallery continues to present an exceptional programme of contemporary art because of the support it generously receives from Arts Council England, Hastings Borough Council and more recently by Garfield Weston Foundation. The trustees and the entire team are thrilled at the announcement that Hastings Contemporary has been awarded a major arts grant from the UK Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund which will enable it to re-open and provide unique visitor experiences for all generations.

“Hastings Contemporary is a young gallery on Hastings Historic South Coast and has a strong reputation for quality: for its activities and exhibitions and its special relationship with artists and members.

“Hastings national and international reputation as a creative hub is a strong indicator of the town’s regeneration and growth. The south coast region is home to many exceptional arts organisations and Hastings Contemporary gallery has continued to prove to be resilient and innovative throughout the pandemic and will deliver an exciting programme of exhibitions, community focused partnerships and educational outreach.”

Liz Gilmore, director of Hastings Contemporary, said: “Covid has affected cultural organisations the length and breadth of the country but the impact has been particularly acute on Hastings and its community. We are therefore thrilled to be able to reopen on May 27 with our flagship exhibitions Seaside Modern and a slightly refreshed exhibition, We Live in Worrying Times, which includes an inspiring new body of work by Blake, called Hand in Hand.

“We are and continue to be determined to support the cultural recovery nationally and the economy and tourism locally. I am very grateful to our dedicated team and trustees for their stamina and commitment over this time and our many supporters: artists, members, visitors, patrons along with Hastings Borough Council Arts Council England, DCMS and MP Sally-Ann Hart.”