Exhibition: Coastal Currents Open Studios, September 2009

Coastal Currents Open Studios 2009 :  The Beacon    

Always an enjoyable experience for us, an opportunity to spend a few hours chatting to visitors and catching up with each other.  

Showing in the main exhibition:  Judy Dewsbery (paintings and drawings): j.dewsbery@btinternet.com, Patrick Burton (possibly veneer kimonos); patrickinhastings@google mail.com, Rachel Heavens (paintings); rachel@rachelheavens.com, Loulou Cousin (papier mache artist); louiseoscar@hotmail.com, Nick Long (treen); dinsdale @mail.com, the Tuesday Life Drawing Group and Ed Boxall who, as usual, will be giving us the pleasure of his songs as well as his illustrations. 

Also, on the first weekend Mike Williams will be hosting a sculpture workshop in the garden. (makingsculpture @hotmail.com for enquiries). 

There are usually refresments available, relaxing in the garden. 

Artists with open studios at the Beacon: 
Judith Rowe (potter) judith@judithrowepottery.co.uk 
Marian Anderson (glass and ceramics): marian.anderson@virgin.net 
Mike Williams (sculptor): makingsculpture@hotmail.com 
Kate Orr (painter): (01424 729031) 
Ben White (painter). 
Carl Carzana (illustrator) 

Reflective Space:   Louise Kenward

These images (seafront ones) are from a project Reflective Spaces which ran as part of Coastal Currents 2009 - there were a series of photographic images re-installed into the window frames of 12 seafront shelters along the coast from Old Town, Hastings to Bexhill, in parallel, there was a wall based exhibition of images as part of the Soco/Phg exhibition at St Marys in the Castle and related seminar.

Image Image Image Image Image
Image Image Image Image Image

Reflective Space

I have exhibited a selection of some of the photographs I have taken through the windows of the seafront shelters along this stretch of coastline. I was interested in the shelters as permanent structures in the transient and ever changing environment of the seafront. In particular, my interest became focussed on the people who use the shelters.

With reference to the brief, the ‘edge’ here refers to the structures as being at the edge of the coast and the photographs are taken over the edges of the windows, but also in reference to them often being refuge to those at the edge of society – the street drinkers and homeless who seek shelter. The view through the window creates a degree of distance and disconnectedness, separate from the figures on the other side of the window. The window is also somewhat dysfunctional, the view is around the other side, they are not windows that would be used to look through. As places for contemplation they are also sites where individuals maybe more aware of their internal state, so attention maybe on the edge of the internal and external.

In these images, the viewer is looking through a window, the frame is within the picture and there are layers of images captured in the surface. The Perspex windows are often covered with dirt, scratches and graffiti; there are reflections of what was behind me at the time of the photo, and there are painted brush marks around the edges.
Through the window there are (often anonymous) shapes of people sitting in the shelters and beyond this are figures walking/cycling past with the view of the prom and the sea beyond this.

My interest in the shelters is about their architecture and the variety of this along the coastline. The towns existing because and in response to the coastline. I sought to also explore their function and role – providing shelter from the wind and rain, spaces to sit and look, places to think and talk. What particularly interests me is how they can be easily overlooked, walked past unnoticed. In a constantly changing space, these structures are the only constant.

The photographs I have taken are also of scenes easily overlooked, of ordinary unremarkable events and figures. It is slightly voyeuristic image of people going about their day without awareness of being watched of photographed. With attention drawn to them, there is something really appealing about them for me, maybe it is something nostalgic or familiar that is reassuring or comforting. They represent a cross section of society living and visiting the seafront. Highlighting these individuals makes me wonder about who they are and what they are doing. People who you may walk past unnoticed, and like the shelters, this work draws attention to them in a quiet way.
In a parallel piece of work I have installed prints of the views through the windows, replacing them in the windows they were taken through, providing a permanent view which captures a moment of this transient space. These are also easily overlooked and I like the subtlety of them, I also like the accessibility of it. People can readily engage with the piece in a place they find accessible rather than a gallery which many visitors to the shelters may never go to. It has spurred dialogue and interaction, a sense of mystery and many have gone in search of other pieces, creating further interaction with their environment and a curiosity about the work and the spaces. It draws attention to the shelters and the environment they inhabit.

In returning to the brief, my ‘conversation’ has therefore been in part with those who use the shelters and also with myself, and the installation of images installed in the shelters. I have learned how there are routines and habits associated with the shelters, people often have their preferred shelter and time of day to visit. I was struck by some people’s apparent loneliness and isolation in talking to them, of their openness at times and their ability to completely ignore what is going on around them.
For many, during the summer, the seafront is a vibrant and busy place to be, sunshine and ice cream. This is just a fraction of what goes on though, people and places under our nose, which all have a story, and I am interested in how these shelters can be a leveller, a place for anyone to use at anytime, a sanctuary.
I hope these images portray some of this, I certainly hope to develop this work further, to continue to photograph the shelters through the changing seasons and to extend it beyond Hastings and Bexhill, linking other places along the coastline.

My work is influenced by my interest in people and the ordinary, what lies beneath. Of developing an awareness of place and person. I love living by the sea and the coastline is an ongoing inspiration. I also enjoy working with found objects and images, things with their own history. I am interested in considering a sense of place and identity. Artists who interest me include Annette Messager and Sophie Calle and photographers include Richard Billingham and Nan Goldin.

27th September 2009
St Mary’s in the Castle show – PhG and Soco Seminar