This morning I got up at 4.30am to watch a man pressure wash a wall. Thankfully this was not any old wall, but one side of the extraordinary Hastings Pier pavilion building.
Hastings Pier burned down on 5 October 2010. A mammoth restoration effort by the Hastings community has brought it back to life, reopening in April 2016 and winning Pier of the Year Award 2017, and various RIBA and other architectural awards also, for it’s bold redesign and reimagination. It is a pier unlike any other.
The pavilion on Hastings Pier is bedecked in remnants of the old pier. There are five different kinds of hardwood, including Ekki, and the extraordinarily coloured Purple Heart (Peltogyne). Scorch marks from molten metal can clearly be seen in some pieces.
Each side takes approximately 6 hours of painstaking pressure washing. You can see the startling difference between the unwashed sections and the beautiful colours of the newly cleaned areas.
It is, perhaps tedious and painstaking work, but the results are stunning. I ask the engineers when the pavilion might have to be cleaned again. “Hopefully, never”, they reply.
Chris Levine’s laser show on Hastings Pier is an immersive experience. This is notwithstanding the immersion in rain, which is torrential for part of the evening.
There is a slightly annoying air of mystery about the event. It was actually quite difficult to find out much about it. It’s called the iy_project. This seems to be because all the good names were taken. It was near impossible to even find out what time the event was suppose to start. Luckily the Hastings Pier website had this pertinent information. There is supposed to be an app to go with the event and despite fiddling around trying to find the underscore on an iPhone to search for it, it’s definitely not there. Several sources mention this non-existent app. Quite frankly, it sounded a bit ludicrous anyway, a real time interactive app – when you are standing on a pier in the rain. It also made the event sound a little dated. Does anyone use apps any more?
Anyway, I’d expected throngs along the beach and packed pier. The weather has been ‘Miami style’ in Hastings for many weeks, but there’s been a hint of autumn the past week or so and tonight the sky cried. There is still a very generous turnout. The atmosphere was subdued and contemplative. It did have the feel of an art show, especially at the end of the pier, which was the immersive hub of the light show.
Without wishing to sound ungenerous, myself and I think a fair proportion of the crowd have grown up through the acid house era. We love lasers. We want lasers. Arty lasers are always a bit underwhelming after the kind of laser show that accompanies 808 State to 2,000 tripping and/or stoned fans. Quite frankly, whilst the ambient electronic sounds tonight were OK, I had a yearning for The Orb’s Towers of Dub and a bit more laser action. They were nice, but they didn’t really do anything. The spectacle was perhaps more static than people expected. It was still very beautiful and very impressive, The technical work put into the design and especially the challenging build across an Art Deco building, a Norman Castle, a renovated Victorian pier, and a boat 400m out to sea really is an achievement.
I absolutely love Hastings Pier. This show really showed off how it’s expansive space (and dramatic backdrop of the English Channel one way and Hastings shoreline and beaches the other) can be used for cultural heavy hitters, rather than tacky penny arcades. It is mainly this angle that made my night, and shows how uniquely positioned the pier is for major location specific artworks and events.
Look who I just met: Darryl Nau – sat on my bike 🙂
I didn’t know who he was, I’ll admit. This guy was just leaning on the closed gates on Hastings Pier. He said he was compering the BMX comp at Source Park. Totally humble about it. This being despite the fact that Battle of Hastings at Source Park tis weekend is going to one of the biggest BMX freestyle events the UK has ever seen.
There’s a big laser show on Hastings pier tomorrow night for the 1066 celebrations. They’re warming up the lasers and working through the lighting set up. I’m shooting long exposures through the fence.
He is impressed by Source Park. I feel a bit proud of this. Darryl is a top US BMXer and East Sussex is holding up its own. If you’ve seen Source Park, you’d see what he means. it is an AMAZING BMX/Skate park.
Darryl is jet lagged. He’s flown in from Colorado. He reels off some places he’s been in the past few days compering BMX events. He is staring at the lasers and he’s seen tonight’s Robot Bike rally too. I know this night will be a weird dream/memory for him in a few days. Straggling robot bikes turn up and he departs, in need of sleep.
The photo came out a little weird looking. I like it. Darryl is definitely holding it together in sleep deprivation. I’m tired out myself and this photo sort of shows it.
Darryl is pretty good on ramps, but I really love this video of him mainly tricking on the streets.
Also, here’s the link for the BMX weekender event – Battle of Hastings at Source Park: