Belonging and place explored in Hastings exhibition

Jeweller Maxime Allan and painter Ben Fenton offer an interdisciplinary exhibition exploring themes of belonging and place.

Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 7:05 am
Jeweller Maxime Allan and painter Ben Fenton
Jeweller Maxime Allan and painter Ben Fenton

The two artists examine their respective paths in finding their homes in Hastings by creating new works in their chosen mediums, as well as combining disciplines to ambitious and original effect.

Part of Coastal Currents Arts Festival 2021, the exhibition is entitled YOU ARE HERE and is at Trinity 7 Gallery, 7 Trinity Street, Hastings, TN34 1HG, daily from Saturday, September 4-Thursday, September 16.

Maxime said: “I was born in Winchester to parents that both grew up in Herne Bay. I studied acting in Stratford-upon-Avon and after performing on the fringe for many years, decided to study silver-smithing and jewellery design at the London Metropolitan University where I completed my HND and masters.

“I worked for Wright & Teague Jewellers in London whilst being a member of Cockpit Arts in Deptford, where I created and sold original, bespoke jewellery, specialising in enamel and precious metals.

“Jewellery took a backseat whilst I raised my three children, but this exhibition has seen me return to my bench to eagerly create new work. My making process has changed somewhat as I explore new materials and techniques. I am currently moving away from enamel and am exploring what can be created with gems and beads in and against precious metals in order to add colour, texture and vibrancy.

“This exhibition is forcing me out of my comfort zone by taking the theme of the show as inspiration, a sense of place and my journey to it. My work is based around my very early years spent with my family on the beaches of Herne Bay, growing up amongst the history and medieval splendour of Winchester, and now finding and building a home with my children amongst the tales of pirates, smugglers and myriad other stories from the sea in Hastings. My pieces for this show are very personal, encapsulating in a metaphorical sense specific life-defining events, whilst remaining jewellery that will be worn and loved by others.”

Ben added: “This is my third consecutive Coastal Currents festival as an artist living and working in Hastings, and I was very keen to push the boat out this year and attempt something a little more ambitious. Maxime’s inspirations for her works are very similar to mine, so a collaborative exhibition felt right. This exhibition sees us plotting a course with our work through a couple of places we have each lived, been moulded by and taken inspiration from before finding a home here in Hastings where our respective disciplines as artists are crossing over for brand-new pieces.

“I am originally from Dungeness and grew up on and alongside the Romney Marsh. I’m an artist that predominantly paints seaside concrete architecture that has faded from its early 20th century usefulness and grandeur so the aesthetic links between my childhood surroundings and those I have discovered here are unmistakable.

“Where Sidney Little attempted to redesign the town into a new Art Deco utopia almost 100 years ago, with concrete edifices like Bottle Alley to draw tourism in, the Marsh has been using the same material in a similar manner to keep the sea out and prevent it from reclaiming the lowlands it once washed across.

“I am fascinated by, and take great inspiration from, the parallels and differences in the utilitarianism of these constructions where I grew up, and their life cycle of amusement and diversion in Hastings and St Leonards.

“Since moving here three years ago I have discovered a community that acts rather than talks. A community that invites and accepts and extends a warmth to those that seek it. A true community. I very much hope that the work Maxime and I present will reflect that.”