ITV Meridian's report is by Charlotte Wilkins
We Out Here (WOH) is a ground-breaking exhibition showcasing the work of six Black artists of Caribbean heritage based in Hastings.
WOH artists have created new culturally specific artworks and have collaborated to produce a distinctive, large-scale, multi-media show. Working in different mediums, the themes explored include migration, Black lives in coastal towns, relationships with the sea, climate justice and racial injustice, fast fashion and the Black presence in crafts.
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 has created ‘WE MEK’ knitted magazine cover – The Windrush 75 Issue. It features the celebrated author of Small Island, the late Andrea Levy and commemorates 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!”
Saddler, Paul Hope, has used his leather work skills to reference historic displacement through the Transatlantic Slave Trade, using embossed slave token images appropriated from the 1789 broadside ‘Description of a Slave Ship’. He has also created work exploring migration, arrival and assimilation, using traditional techniques.
Creating two new, large-scale sculptures for the exhibition, Elaine Mullings uses materials that highlight global exploitation in continental Africa in general and in particular, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Eugene Palmer has created two large paintings as an invitation to the viewer to reflect on their relationship with the sea. The works present the image of the Black subject juxtaposed with the image of the sea, and familiar visual elements we associate with British seaside culture.
Richard Mark Rawlins, who moved to Hastings from Trinidad and Tobago, has 3 pieces in the show. He created 'Conversation Over Tea' after he was struck by the English's fascination with tea.
His work also explores the Windrush Migration through his painting and a large graphite drawing that explores identity.
Maggie 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.
"We Out Here" speaks to and engages with the Black and wider communities in Hastings. Complementing the show in the Foreshore Gallery are a range creative activities, events and discussions. A number of community - based activities and workshops also aim to encourage art engagement.
Artwork created by the pupils from eight local schools is also on display in the gallery during the project.
They have responded to ‘Making your Mark’, a brief created by Lorna for Hastings Contemporary’s Pearls of the Sea school’s project.
Lorna says the exhibition is fully accessible, with a full guide in braille. She hopes that not only there be more projects like this one, but she’d love to see a creative hub in Hastings where Black creatives can come together.
You can find out more about "We Out Here", here.