Last Sunday I took myself down to the Stade Open Space to investigate Blacksmiths on The Beach. The brainchild of Leigh dyer, blacksmiths on the beach gave visitors the chance to watch, and take part in the building of a new sculpture created by Leigh Dyer.
Leigh is a lovely man, I've never seen the man without a smile on his face and he has an ability with metal that I am truly in awe of. Walking around Hastings it's easy to stumble across one of his sculptures, especially in the Old Town, which is instagram-esq and rarely requires a filter.
This year, in Hastings, instead of having our annual Coastal Currents Arts Festival, we have Root 1066, a celebration of 950 years since Harold got shot in the eye. Leigh has begun creating a new permanent sculpture for the beach to commemorate this festival; it already looks beautiful.
The weekend of Blacksmiths on the Beach the weather was grim, or at least the Sunday was. I love Hastings, I love all the super things that happen, but when the weather is slightly shit, it can make the difference between an event being popular or empty. It's a risk all the locals in Hastings like to take when they suggest doing something outside, on a weekend, in the 'summer' months.
The skill demonstrated by the blacksmiths was impressive, and their willingness to answer questions and provide examples was easily the best bit of this workshop. Even in the wind and rain many others were there when I visited, to gaze at women and men working an age old skill that has been adapted for contemporary practice. Although I felt uncomfortably voyeuristic at the barrier with the other spectators, I know that's all on me.
I feel lucky that I got to see a live behind the scenes moment of the creation of Leigh's new sculpture, and it was wonderful to watch him discussing, with other blacksmiths, the intricacies of his design. The finished work will be unveiled on the 10th of September and I look forward to seeing it in situ.