Seaside Modern: art and life on the beach heralds reopening of Hastings Contemporary

With a grant of more than £200,000 from the Culture Recovery Fund Hastings Contemporary is preparing for its May 27th reopening with renewed enthusiasm.

It plans to reopen with what it describes as ‘a spectacular summer blockbuster’; an exhibition called Seaside Modern which celebrates the relationship between artists and the beach from the 1920s to 1970s.

Marking the beginning of summer, and the hopeful return to a more normal way of life, the 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. 

Exhibits will include 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 have been drawn together by special guest British curator James Russell.

Artist Patron, Sir Quentin Blake and Liz Gilmore Director of Hastings Contemporary.

Seaside Modern includes a remarkably large group of artists, reflecting the Genuine Artistic Moment of a 50-year period in the 20th century, during which artists were drawn to the beach 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 Russell says: “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 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”.

Hastings Contemporary is also announcing this week that the gallery’s 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 for the country.

Sir Quentin’s exhibition during 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 those unable to visit in person due to COVID restrictions.

The gallery also continues to present a programme of contemporary art with the support it receives from Arts Council England, Hastings Borough Council and more recently by Garfield Weston Foundation with the trustees and the entire team delighted by the news of the grant from the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund

In a press release issued this week Hastings Contemporary says it 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,” it says.

Liz Gilmore Director of Hastings Contemporary says The news that Hastings Contemporary has been awarded a second significant grant from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund is a fabulous encouragement for the whole town and for the region.

“Covid has affected cultural organisations the length and breadth of the country but the impact has been particularly acute in Hastings.

“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”.

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