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WE OUT HERE! A Hastings Contemporary Exhibition

We Out Here (WOH) is a ground-breaking exhibition showcasing the work of six Black artists of Caribbean heritage based in Hastings. The exhibition is open from 1st April - 4th June 2023.

WOH artists have created new culturally specific artworks and collaborated to produce a distinctive, large-scale, multi-media show. Working in different mediums, the themes they explore include migration, Black lives in coastal towns, relationships with the sea, climate justice and racial injustice, fast fashion and the Black presence in crafts.

WE MEK knitted magazine cover, Photo credit

WOH speaks to and engages with the Black and wider communities in Hastings. Complementing the show in the Foreshore Gallery will be a range of creative activities, events and discussions. We Out Here will also be complemented offsite with a series of community-based activities and workshops which aim to encourage art engagement.

ALVIN, 2022

The project is led by local artist Lorna Hamilton-Brown RCA MBE, known as the ‘Banksy’ of the knitting world for her use of the medium for social commentary. For WOH, Lorna will be creating a new ‘WE MEK’ knitted magazine cover – The Windrush 75 Issue. It will feature the celebrated author of Small Island, the late Andrea Levy and commemorate the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush carrying passengers from the Caribbean to the UK.

Lorna says “We Out Here has given me the chance to bring together Hastings-based Black artists who I admire, from a range of disciplines to create a historic exhibition. We have been hidden in plain sight for too long, but WE OUT HERE!”

Liz Gilmore, Director of Hastings Contemporary says “Hastings Contemporary always strives to show the very best art, where possible showcasing new or overlooked talent. This exhibition realises these ambitions, celebrating the incredible creative talents of six artists living and working in Hastings.”

The artists also taking part in the exhibition are Paul Hope, Elaine Mullings, Eugene Palmer, Richard M Rawlins and Maggie Scott.

Elaine Mullings says: – “I am delighted to exhibit work in We Out Here at Hastings Contemporary and showcase new work expressing my on-going interest in form and materiality. As Black artists we have much to say about living in this coastal town. The exhibition also offers the community a chance to celebrate the creative contributions made by people of African Caribbean heritage and to remind us that Black lives do matter.”

Creating two new, large-scale sculptures for the exhibition, Mullings will be using materials that highlight global exploitation in continental Africa in general and in particular, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Jab Jumbie

Paul Hope will be referencing historic displacement through the Transatlantic Slave Trade, using embossed slave token images appropriated from the 1789 broadside ‘Description of a Slave Ship’. He will also be creating work exploring migration, arrival and assimilation, using traditional leatherwork techniques.

Paul Hope said: – “We Out Here has allowed me to think about leathercraft outside of the more utilitarian confines of domestic small leather goods, clothing, and fashion. It has provided a creative forum to explore themes of local culture, migration, movement, and resettlement. Through placing artworks together in the gallery space, alongside the work of fellow black artists, a stronger creative narrative can be created.”

Triangulation and Dead Reckoning (sign writer Rob Finn) Photo credit Paul Hope

Palmer will create two large paintings, as an invitation to the viewer to reflect on their relationship with the sea. The works will present the image of the Black subject juxtaposed with the image of the sea, and familiar visual elements we associate with British seaside culture.

Eugene Palmer said:– “Hastings is a great place to live and work; its outlook is very much towards the future. Participating in the WOH exhibition gives me a unique opportunity to share my art-practice with an exciting group of artists, and with the diverse audience(s) of the local community.”

Richard Mark Rawlins added – “For me, being involved in WOH is more than just representation and more about the opportunity to share with the wider community some of what I have been making in this place, Hastings, that I have begun to make a home. My works are multi themed and in WOH I find my work in communion with 5 other artists who touch on similar themes, and I find that interesting.”

THE WEST INDIANS, Photo credit Richard M Rawlins

Rawlins will exhibit his work, Conversation Over Tea and reimagine it with live performances. His work will also explore the Windrush Migration through his painting and a large graphite drawing that explores identity.

Scott’s focus on fast fashion and climate justice spotlights the consequences for the Global South of the Global North’s addiction to cheap clothing.

Maggie Scott says: – “It’s been exciting to work with such an experienced and diverse group of black artists; meeting regularly to talk about our work and share our thinking has been truly inspiring. In spite of many years of producing and exhibiting work in the USA, Canada, Belgium as well as many cities in the UK, the most challenging, interesting and supportive environment has come from the small coastal town of Hastings!”

On 15 April at 2pm there will be a live WOH artists’ panel discussion hosted by writer Sarah Gwonyoma, exploring themes raised within the exhibition.

Artwork created by the pupils from eight local schools will also be on display in the gallery during WOH. They will be responding to ‘Making your Mark’, a brief created by Lorna for Hastings Contemporary’s Pearls of the Sea school’s project.

A full-colour publication featuring the artists and their work will accompany the exhibition.

Community partners include Afri-Co-Lab, Home Live Art, Black Butterfly, Electric Palace Cinema, Hastings Borough Council and Hastings Museum and Art Gallery.


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