New contemporary arts festival commemorates one of English history’s most important dates.
The Battle of Hastings was a significant moment in this country’s history and a hugely rich source of inspiration – both on the history of the country itself and the impact it has had on our culture and identity.
To mark the 950th anniversary of William the Conqueror’s invasion of England, a new, six-week contemporary arts festival has been created and gets underway on 3 September (running until 16 October).
ROOT1066 is composed of spectacular indoor and outdoor events across 1066 Country in East Sussex staged by internationally renowned artists and companies, including Glyndebourne Opera, Chris Levine, Wildworks Theatre, Marcus Harvey and Turner Prize short-listed Fiona Banner, plus many more. It includes 13 new commissions and premieres, all exploring big themes such as Who are we? Where do we come from? What is important to us?
Highlights of the rich and varied programme include:
- I Am A Norman – a photography project highlighting contemporary Normans. Nigel Green and Andrew Moran have traced people who live in 1066 Country with a surname derived from the original army of Norman knights and their retinues and photographed them in a setting of their choice. These photographs will be on display in bus shelters from 1-31 September. Familiar faces in familiar settings, connecting us to the past.
- A pioneering large scale sound and light event – iy_Project – has been designed by the acclaimed light artist Chris Levine, famous for his 3D light portraits of The Queen, the Dalai Lama and Kate Moss and collaborations with The Eden Project and top recording artists (most recently with Philip Glass at Glastonbury in a special tribute to David Bowie). He will be working in collaboration with sound artists to create a spectacular immersive experience on the seafront, which will include an invitation beamed over the Channel to Normandy to signify the start of the festival. (Saturday 10 September)
- Making its world premiere on Saturday 1 October at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill, new opera PUSH will be performed by soloists from Glyndebourne and musicians drawn from some of the UK’s major orchestras, while 250 children and adults from across 1066 Country will form the accompanying choir for this thrilling and innovatively staged production. PUSH, written by internationally acclaimed composer Howard Moody, is inspired by the compelling, true story of Simon Gronowski, who was pushed from a train bound for Auschwitz by his mother in 1943. Mr Gronowski himself will be guest of honour at the first performance.
- Paying cheeky homage to British Museum Director Neil MacGregor’s ground-breaking series for BBC Radio 4, Hastings Museum and Art Gallery is telling The Story of Hastings in 66 Objects. From a 1066 silver penny and part of a Spanish Armada boat to a JL Baird letter and a MOD’s Lambretta, members of the public picked their favourite works from the 100,000 held by the museum to create a new exhibition that covers the Norman invasion, through Tudor, Stuart, Georgian and Victorian periods into the 20th (On now)
- WildWorks are renowned for their unique style of site-specific theatre. Their show The Great Survey is inspired by the Domesday Book of 1086, which was entitled The Great Survey of the Wealth of England. But where the first Great Survey focused on the country’s physical wealth in terms of land, livestock and other possessions, this one 930 years later will be focusing on the town of Hastings greatest riches: its people and communities. Their show will take place in the shadow of Hastings Castle (9-11 September) and feature a revolving cast of 50 local people.
- Jerwood Gallery presents a major exhibition of the celebrated English artist Marcus Harvey. Inselaffe is a German word meaning ‘Island Monkeys’ – used to describe the people of Britain, a tongue-in-cheek theory that evolution must have stalled in the UK. Harvey’s most recent work forges motifs and emblems of Britishness, such as military memorabilia and joke shop knick-knacks, into collaged portraits of historical figures – from Nelson to Margaret Thatcher, Napoleon to Tony Blair (until 16 October).
- Leading British artist Fiona Banner presents an immersive installation at the iconic De La Warr Pavilion, exploring her ongoing interest in language and its limitations. The exhibition, Buoys Boys, which takes place both inside and outside of the gallery, is a play on digital versus material experiences. (24 September – 8 January 2017).
All these events, and many, many more, will work in partnership with other 1066 commemorations and celebrations, including the Battle Festival (throughout October) and a monumental re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings (15 & 16 October).
ROOT1066 is curated by Hastings Borough Council’s Polly Gifford, who says “Hastings has a long artistic tradition and a growing reputation as a cultural hot spot for outstanding contemporary arts, with an eclectic arts scene fuelled by a thriving community of artists. ROOT 1066 shows off the best the area has to offer, with unique projects from local, national and international artists that will linger in the memories of audiences and leave a lasting legacy for the area.”
The ROOT1066 Festival Patron is playwright and scriptwriter, Hastings born, Sir David Hare. He says “ROOT 1066 comes along at just the right moment to mark the re-birth of this part of the world. Its curious beauty and distinctive melancholy are as powerful as ever. But now at last it has sturdy young life as well.”
You can download a full festival programme now at www.1066contemporary.com