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Automata on the Pier / 2018

Cabaret Mechanical Theatre, internationally famous for its extraordinary collection of automata, comes to Hastings for the first time with an unmissable exhibition of mechanical toys and many other marvellous mechanical inventions.

This unique show will celebrate the history and development of automata in the context of Hastings Pier’s own rich heritage, celebrating the diverse creative, scientific and engineering skills of experts and of the community itself.

The Craftivist Network have been at the heart of making this exhibition happen, bringing the project to Hastings Pier and seeing it as a creative opportunity for the network.

Members involved in this project include Active Arts, Autism Sussex, Boathouse Theatre, Hastings and Bexhill MENCAP, Parchment Trust, Seaview and Southdown’s Wellbeing Centre in Bexhill. The project has been coordinated by Culture Shift.

Work began in December with a Masterclass in Automata Making for representatives from each organisation and a small team of local artists including Peter Quinnell, Janey Moffatt and Keith Adams. Since then each group has been working on making Automata – with a Hastings theme – for the exhibition.  Our Automata depict all sorts of Hastings scenes from Jack in the Green, bikers, the East Hill lift, mods and rockers, Bottle Alley, Billy the Tubman, seagulls, fishing and boats. There is also a film collaboration made by Autism Sussex working with a dance group from Active Arts.

The exhibition is open 10.00-17.00 each day from 15 March to 15 April. Free entry.

The Craftivist Network will be hosting a community event on Saturday March 24 1.30-4.30pm. This is a chance to see the exhibition, have a go at making Automata and enjoy performances from Craftivist Members including the Seaview Choir,  The Ctrl , a young band supported by Autism Sussex and Boathouse Theatre’s Human Automata.



Movement for Root 1066 / 2016

Craftivists Network groups worked together to present a community art installation for Root 1066 Contemporary Arts Festival.

After months of hard work, 12 organisations from across Hastings and Rother that support vulnerable adults in the community came together for a huge event on the STADE as part of the Root 1066 festival in October 2016.  Movement was developed by the Craftivist Network with artist Caroline Le Breton and coordinated by arts organisation Culture Shift and Hastings Furniture Service. It was one of the ROOT 1066 commissioned projects.

The project created a platform for many individuals who are challenged to access the cultural life of the town to take part in a major arts festival.  Part movement of people, part protest, the project took at arrow as a symbol for the direction people wanted their lives to follow and the things that mattered most.

Movement began as a procession along the Hastings seafront from the Azur to the Stade with groups joining at different points. They were accompanied by the Open Door Drummers, part of Hastings and Bexhill MENCAP, led by Jamie Harris.  Every person in the group carried a spear they had made and each group made banners to make clear their concerns and wishes. Judy Rogers, the mayor of Hastings was in the parade.

On arrival at the Stade, the whole space was set out as a large community tea party, with tables arranged round a stage, chairs of all sorts and sizes provided by Hastings Furniture Service, refreshments from the Roebuck Centre and craft stalls.  Each group ceremonially placed their spears in bases on the Stade to decorate the space.

Inside the Stade Hall was the most beautiful and mesmerising installation of 380 silver hanging arrows, made by participants and installed by artist Caroline Le Breton.  Each arrow was inscribed underneath with the thing that mattered most to that individual. Words included; home, heath, homes, opportunity, to be needed, to be positive, love, travel and much more.

The arrows hang twinkling and casting shadows on the floor resembling both a flock of birds and clutch or arrows. Children lay underneath enjoying the biggest mobile they had ever seen.  There was the opportunity for people to make their own ingenious balancing arrows.

Outside a series of entertaining and heart-warming performances filled the afternoon with the Open Door Drummers, Seaview Choir, Hastings Voice Squad and Delta 7, a band from Eastbourne of musicians with learning disabilities supported by Culture Shift.  In between the performances Rhythmix who managed the stage and music, offered short taster sessions to flag up their new free 8 week music programmes for young people on Hastings and Rother.

In addition a number of stalls sold products made by Craftivist members; Roebuck Centre, Active Arts and Hastings Furniture Service.

500+ people attended the event on Sunday with a further 170 on the Monday to see the exhibition.

Participating groups include Roebuck Centre (Autism Sussex), Active Arts and Open Door (Hastings and Bexhill MENCAP), Glyne Gap Faculty, Hastings Furniture Service, Little Gate Farm, Parchment Trust, Beeching Park and Conquest Day Centres, Greenwood Respite Hotel, Seaview

The project was supported in cash and in kind by a number of local businesses; Sussex Plumbing Supplies, restaurants Mama Putts and Bella Vista, M&W lettings and Brewers as well as receiving a grant from Hastings Borough Council.

Feedback from visitors:

Watch the amazing team of volunteers put up our installation:

Video by Lee Shearman