Hastings Plays Host To Knotty: A Festival Of Adventurous Performances 

Photographer Credit_ Glodi Miessi

Knotty, the celebration of performance and live art in Hastings and St Leonards, returns following the success of 2022’s outdoor festival. For 2024, Knotty is more extensive and bolder than ever, showcasing inspiring artists and events in familiar and unexpected spaces and places over the weekends of 6-9 and 14-16 June.  

Now in its fourth year, Knotty is produced by Hastings’ creative arts organisation, Home Live Art. This year’s festival features work from over 20 artists in eight events across four venues: Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, White Rock TheatreMini Playhouse, and Stables Theatre, plus outdoor locations in Hastings Town Centre. Most programmes are free or offer a sliding scale according to what ticket buyers can afford. 

Selfie Choreography Workshop, Eastside Projects, Birmingham, UK 2020. Photo_ Ashley Carr
Selfie Choreography Workshop, Eastside Projects, Birmingham, UK 2020. Harold Offeh by Ashley Carr 

Katy BairdArtistic Director of Home Live Art, said: ‘I am thrilled to bring Knotty back to Hastings! This year’s programme features remarkable local, national and international artists alongside community participants. In bold, provocative and joyful encounters, we invite audiences to question the world we live in and actively create spaces where we can reimagine and redefine our future together. We take pride in continuing to showcase ground-breaking artists in Hastings, further enhancing the town’s well-deserved reputation as a daring, forward-thinking cultural hub.’

Knotty includes four performances co-curated with Claudine Eccleston, founder of Playing the Race Card, a local arts and social justice organisation celebrating Black excellence and supporting relevant art and artists. They were accompanying the current Black Joy! Up Close and Personal exhibition at Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, the collaboration includes the temporary installation of an interactive public sculpture from Sonia Hughes, a call-and-response exploration of museum objects led by Harold OffehRay Young’s award-winning interdisciplinary work OUT, and Knotty’s renowned queer performance party, Salty. 

Claudine Eccleston said: ‘I am excited to have teamed up with Home Live Art to bring these incredibly talented artists to Hastings, injecting a fresh perspective into our town’s cultural offerings. It aligns perfectly with the energy of our exhibition, encouraging dialogue around Black Joy.’ 

Taking over the White Rock Theatre on Thursday, 6 June, and providing a joyous start to 2024’s festival, Salty provides an inclusive space for LGBTQ+ folk and their allies to come together, dance and enjoy unforgettable, radical cabaret performances courtesy of Harry Alexander, who will embody Warhol and Twiggy, with Thick and Tight, Yshee Black, Mr IPM, aka Azara Meghie, winner of the Man Up competition plus local drag artist Paris Grande and local DJ Sarah Buller. 

 On Friday, 7 June, taking the festival outdoors, performance artist Tink Flaherty brings their bench to the streets of Hastings, inviting visitors, audiences and curious locals to sit down and chat about how we connect in advance of Tink’s performance Benched at Trans Pride Hastings this July. Also, on 7 June, the Stables Theatre hosts Ray Young’s celebrated piece OUT, which defiantly challenges homophobia and transphobia in boldly reclamation of dancehall culture.

Tink Flaherty by Christa Holka

Local artist and provocateur Beccy McCray will park Climate Nan’s Caravan in Hastings Town Centre on Saturday, 8 June, encouraging visitors to swing by and chat about climate solutions, hopes, and fears. “Imagine a world where talking about climate change is like a nice natter with your nan…”. Climate Nan Caravan makes this a reality.

On the same day, families of all shapes and sizes are invited to Sweet, a drag and cabaret show for anyone aged five and over, brimming with dance, drag, music, and fun, hosted at the Mini Playhouse

Artist Harold Offeh will delve into memories, stories, and histories of the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery collection in Bring and Brag on Sunday, 9 June, alongside members of the local Black community. This lively event promises an unprecedented opportunity to reshape museum narratives by delving into fascinating local stories behind everyday objects in relation to the Black Joy! Up Close and Personal Exhibition.

Over the festival’s final weekend, Hastings Museum and Art Gallery will be home to a brand new artist commission and a highly anticipated premiere for Knotty 2024. The Hero’s Journey on Friday, 14, Saturday, 15, and Sunday, 16 June, brings together community performers and local artists in a performance adventure celebrating Hastings’s diversity, beauty and spirit. They are led by artist Anna Maria Nabirye and choreographer Darragh O’Leary, who St Leonards creative hub Afri-Co-Lab produces. Details of the show are closely under wraps but expect an immersive and heroic experience.

Meanwhile, artist Sonia Hughes presents I Am From Reykjavik on Saturday, 15 June, with all she needs to build herself a shelter, which she will create and later demolish as a temporary sculpture in the town centre. Knotty audiences and visitors can witness how Sonia and Hastings get along.

For full performance details and credits, ticket links and access information, please visit www.homeIiveart.com

Thick & Tight with Harry Alexander _
Thick & Tight with Harry Alexander as Twiggy by Rosie Powell

Home Live Art is an artist-led, queer-led creative organisation based in Hastings. It is dedicated to developing new sites and audiences for culture by supporting artists in developing their work and building strong local communities through creativity. Home Live Art’s mission is to electrify and diversify the cultural ecology in the towns of South East England through bold programming and innovative community-led work.  www.homeliveart.com

About Playing the Race Card

 Playing the Race Card creates a town-wide conversation on race, identity and social justice through thought-provoking exhibitions, workshops, talks, and performances. It was started in 2020 by local Hastings resident Claudine Eccleston in response to her own experiences of this diminishing term and is led by a Working Group of community members, with support from Home Live Art. www.playingtheracecard.co.uk

Top Photo: Ray Young by Glodi Miessi

Knotty: A festival of performances for the adventurous – 6-9 and 14-16 June 2024 at venues and locations across Hastings

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