The new creative arts centre in Rye, Bridge Point, is presenting an immersive, staged display of the historic Hastings Embroidery which has been in storage for decades.
Commissioned in 1966 from the Royal School of Needlework to celebrate the 900th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, the historic tapestry measures 245 feet long and rivals the Bayeux tapestry in scale. It consists of 27 panels depicting significant events in British history from 1066 and 1966 and was commissioned by war hero Group Captain Ralph Bagshaw Ward in collaboration with Hastings Town Council. The current Hastings Borough Council, who are still guardians of the historic embroidery, have agreed to allow Bridge Point to display the tapestry on selected dates between May and October.
The Hastings Tapestry will be accompanied by a unique, newly-commissioned pop-up installation by the renowned artist and director Tim Hopkins, whose body of work has included creative endeavours with The Royal Opera House, ENO, Opera North, WNO, BBC Symphony Orchestra, The BBC Proms, Munich Festspiele, Aldeburgh, Teatro Dell’Opera Basel, Wexford Festival Channel 4, Aurora Orchestra and London Sinfonietta to name but a few. Tim has also worked with many composers including Harrison Birtwistle, Luciano Berio and Judith Weir.
Says Tim: “The Tapestry Project is a chance to see again a particular example of how Britain narrates itself, from 53 years ago, in the form of the Hastings Embroidery. Its images alight on older histories, drawn from other historic visualisations of events – some recent, others remote even at the time of their own creation – a layering of inherited associations, many derived from other artefacts and artworks, presented as episodes in a continuous record.
“It is also a chance to try to make a response, at a moment which feels charged with significance for our continuing story, when even the recent past is contested territory, and untold stories can be suddenly heard. Our project tries to imagine something of this dynamic texture, presenting the 1966 panels and a meditation on how we narrate a nation, in the form of a new audio-visual installation.”
This new immersive piece of work premiering at Bridge Point also showcases the work of British composer and sound-scape artist Robert Thomas, well-known for his work exploring the possibility of music adapting and changing in real-time to the listener’s situation. Robert’s recent commissions include The Barbican, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Google Boiler Room, BBC, Sky TV and National Geographic. Robert has also collaborated with some of the world’s most recognised music artists including Massive Attack, Imogen Heap and Carl Craig, and sees the depiction of historic events in the 245ft embroidery as the start of a stimulating discussion about national identity.
Robert says about the project: “What does it mean to be British? How should we feel about our cultural heritage? When are we right to feel proud? What should we learn from in our nations history? How should we feel about our future? This piece aims to explore the complex inextricably interwoven emotions of being British in the 21st century.”
The staging is the start of the journey for this new exciting creative hub and is privately funded by founders David and Sarah Kowitz. Sarah Kowitz who is also Executive Producer at Bridge Point says it “aims to support a residency programme of innovative world-class artists across numerous disciplines and hopes that if planning permission is granted for the development, it will create a flourishing community of exceptional talent and encourage a migration of arts, which will continue the drive towards coastal regeneration.”
The staging will be open to the public over six weekends beginning with the bank-holiday weekend at the end of May. Volunteers will help supervise visitors to the immersive display and will be given an option of doing a two-and-a-half-hour shift during opening times. Says Tim Hopkins: “This has been a significant logistical and artistic undertaking and we would welcome public support to maximise the opportunities to display the tapestry.”
All volunteers will receive a souvenir Tee-shirt and refreshments. Visitors with ID aged 26 and under can visit the exhibit for free and all others will be charged £3 entry to cover the cost of the staging and installation.
The Tapestry Project will be open to the public over six selected weekends between May and October at Bridge Point Rye, Rock Channel via St. Margaret’s Terrace, TN31 7DE, between 11am and 3pm. (Limited Disabled Parking only). Visitor and Volunteer Parking is at Gibbets Marsh, 38 Udimore Road, Rye TN31 7DS) an eight-minute walk from Bridge Point. There are regular bus and train services between Hastings and Rye.
Dates and times for volunteers are as follows:
Late Morning 10:45am-1pm or Afternoon 12:45pm-3:15pm
Sunday May 26 and Monday May 27
Saturday Jun 8 and Sunday Jun 9
Saturday Jul 13 and Sunday Jul 14
Saturday Aug 25 and Sunday Aug 26
Saturday Sep 14 and Sunday Sep 15
Saturday Oct 12 and Sunday Oct 13
There will be an induction day for participating volunteers to get to know the facility, the exhibition and more. There will be at least three: on Wednesday, May 15 at 5:30pm; Thursday, May 16 at 11am; and Saturday, May 25 at 11am.
Please register your interest – detailing which dates and shift you prefer as well as your preference for an induction day by using the contact form here or emailing the Project Producer Anastasia Witts at email@example.com.
Source: Bridge Point, Rye
Image Credits: Martello Developments.