I am hugely excited to have been selected to create a hanging textile piece for The Observer Building, Hastings. The artwork will be launched as part of Coastal Currents Arts Festival 2019 and will help celebrate the opening of a once derelict place into a wonderful space for individuals and small organisations to thrive and grow. The project's mission statement includes the following key points:
LOCALLY DRIVEN DEVELOPMENT
Sharing opportunities locally and equitably
SECURELY CAPPED RENTS
That protect the soul of our neighbourhood
NURTURING LOCAL CREATIVITY AND ENTERPRISE
Quality, affordable homes and work spaces
LIFE CHANGING OPPORTUNITIES
Responding to local need and giving chances to those at risk of exclusion
A SELF RENOVATING NEIGHBOURHOOD
Inclusive, bottom up, sustainable approaches to neighbourhood development
Excitingly, the community have come together to help crowdfund the opening of this incredible building that once housed the printing presses of the local newspaper Hastings & St Leonards Observer. Part of the artwork will contain the names of many of the people who generously donated in order to bring this old gem back to life.
Inspired by a trip round the building to photograph its many wabi-sabi and textured surfaces, alongside consideration of its rich history involving the printing process; I have produced a mood board that draws on printing processes including the historical cyanotype invented in 1843, and rusting with seawater to produce delicate shapes and organic marks. The Observer Building team have described to me how they are inspired by the idea of nurturing their tenants and helping them to thrive; a quick brainstorm with them brought up the words flourish, growth, rewild, wellbeing and community. For this reason I am choosing to incorporate imagery of locally pressed flowers and plant life, such as the intricate fern fronds that grow abundantly in wild habitats like Ecclesbourne Glen.
The beautiful brick surfaces in the building have already got me pondering how walls can be beautiful and sheltering, or divisive and intimidating, as they sometimes were when I was growing up in Northern Ireland; strewn with murals full of propaganda and incitement, keeping 'two sides' apart. I know this project will be both meaningful and cathartic for me as I explore these ideas further, and become more intimately acquainted with the subtle layers of paint, brick and cement.