‘Shoreditch by the sea’ tag reflects regeneration

Hastings has been steadily developing its reputation as a cultural centre - including music, art and performances.

Last week I visited the Jerwood Gallery for the opening of the Chapman Brothers’ exhibition, In the Realm of the Unmentionable.

The Jerwood remains a Hastings jewel and if a Chapman Brothers exhibition is too shocking (as it is intended) for some people, there is the alternative of the wonderful modern British permanent collection on show.

The moniker ‘Shoreditch on Sea’ may not be considered a positive one by everyone, but it certainly does reflect the enormous amount going on. With the opening of more galleries and artistic businesses, increasing numbers of students and active investment from the local authorities and arts groups, there are a growing number of cultural events and new ideas to boost the arts scene and make the area an attractive cultural destination.

Brilliantly it is spread around the town, with St Leonards being an increasingly popular area, although the appeal of the Baker Mamonova Gallery in Norman Road is surely as much for the cakes as the art!

But, just as the Chapman Brothers’ exhibition was a return home for two of Hastings’ most famous artists, the arts and cultural scene in Hastings always has a very local flavour. The museums and galleries often focus on fishing, the sea and local history.

The Priscilla MacBean, an old lifeboat saved from life as a chicken coop by Hastings residents, is to be kept as a legacy to the history of Hastings Old Town and its lifeboat men.

Congratulations to the men and women who have made this possible I look forward to seeing the fully restored lifeboat at the parade on Saturday, November 15.

Finally, it’s now impossible not to feel increasing excitement for the pier, as its new shape emerges literally, from the ashes.

Opening next year, it will be a fantastic testament to the resilience and ambition of the town and its community with our bold new optimistic Pier.

The historic lifeboat Priscilla MacBean was bought by Hastings old town resident Deeday White after being found rotting in a field near Eastbourne. It has been lovingly restored on Hastings beach by volunteers over the past year. It was Eastbourne’s first ever motor lifeboat in the 1920s, and was sister boat to the Mary Stanford, the Rye lifeboat which was tragically lost with all hands on November 15, 1928. Exactly 86 years later on November 15 the restored vessel will be hauled to its new final resting place, a specially prepared site on Hastings Borough Council land at the entrance to the Old Town.