A couple of murals painted as part of the 2018 Coastal Currents Festival have appeared in Hastings. ATM famous for his birds and REQ known for figurative paintings of his muse Smudge both painted pieces in the town.
The month long series of events took place in September. Funded with a combination of money from the Arts Council, Hastings Council and the East Sussex Arts Partnership. This was about bringing a celebration of art into the area.
SMUDGE BY REQ
Both artists we know well and we’ve featured their work a number of times on the blog. Most recently REQ, from Brighton, showed us around his home town and we recorded a podcast interview with him. His work can be seen all over Brighton so branching out along the south coast was something he was looking forward to.
The piece created in Hastings stands in the car park of the local Morrisons and overlooks the Queens Road. Covering the entirety of a gable end of houses, it features his muse who he calls ‘Smudge’. All of his work whether on the street or in the studio is inspired by her. A graffiti artist in a former life, he was always a fine art painter at heart yet now his work will often combine both elements.
For the Coastal Currents festival, he told me that he wanted to create an image that showed Smudge rising majestically out of the sea. Looking at it now, you can see that he achieved it. Featuring a turquoise blue ocean, it is indeed as if she has emerged from it. Whether this is meant to be the sea off the coast of Hastings is another matter.
BLACK REDSTARTS BY ATM
The work from ATM meanwhile can be found on the shelter of West Hill Park. With a beautiful elevated view his birds overlook the town and out over the sea. He is well known for his fine art paintings which are often of local species or at least species with a connection with an area.
For Hastings he painted a pair of Black Redstarts, several pairs of which nest on the cliffs nearby. The birds are however in danger and in severe decline reduced to just 100 nesting pairs in the whole of the UK. Part of a much wider conservation issue, the birds are included on the RSPB’s red list. It means that they are the highest risk in terms of continued decline.
It certainly fits ATM’s M.O. Using his art to campaign on environmental issues he will make connections with the community that he is painting in. The fact that there are nesting pairs living nearby of what is a threatened species will have been a major factor in his decision to paint them. The hope being that the local communities awareness will then be raised.
Hastings is certainly an artistic town. Full of independent shops and a lovely little old town, it overlooks a shingle beach and boasts an impressive fishing fleet. We’d only ever visited once before. Heading down there earlier in the year we went to interview our friend Sam Peacock who was so inspired by the area that he moved down.
The murals were only a small part of the festival though and in Hastings and the surrounding areas, a number of arty type activities took place. Let’s hope that if it happens again in 2019 we get a few more decent walls to bring street art into the heart of the town.
The Coastal Currents Festival took place between 1-30 September 2018 in Hastings. We visited on 17 November 2018 and all pictures were taken on the day.