Arts & Culture
by Aspect County

Coastal Cultural Trail

I wanted to tell, but also to pass on, my parents’ experience to my children so they could learn about this Algerian and French identity.” Zineb Sedira

Zineb Sedira Sea Rocks 2011 2022 Courtesy the artist and kamel mennour Paris

Zineb Sedira: Sea Rocks 2011 – 2022 Courtesy the artist and kamel mennour Paris (The DLWP)

The De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea, fondly referred to locally as the DLWP, is a fundamental part of the East Sussex art scene and the coastal cultural trail — 18 miles of beautiful coastline that links three outstanding award-winning contemporary art galleries of international reputation – Towner Gallery Eastbourne, Hastings Contemporary and the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea.

Towner Gallery Eastbourne has recently featured in the national press as the host location for the 2023 Turner Prize. One of the best-known prizes for the visual arts in the world, the Turner Prize aims to promote public debate around new developments in contemporary British art. Established in 1984, the Prize is awarded to a British artist for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work in the previous twelve months. The exhibition of Turner Prize’s four shortlisted artists will be presented at Towner from 28 September 2023 to 14 January 2024 with the announcement of the winner on 5 December 2023. The Turner Prize winner will be awarded £25,000 with £10,000 awarded to the other shortlisted artists.

Hastings Contemporary is a museum of contemporary British art located on The Stade in Hastings. The gallery opened in March 2012 as the Jerwood Gallery and cost £4m to build. From October 2022 Hastings Contemporary will be presenting the first major survey show of the work of Caragh Thuring (b. Brussels, 1972) – her first UK exhibition in six years. Spanning the last fifteen years with more than twenty works, it will include paintings, drawings, and monotypes. 

Thuring grew up in Scotland near to the majestic Holy Loch, the site of the renowned Cold War US nuclear submarine base and next to the construction site for the first concrete North Sea oil rigs. This clash of nature and industry has continued throughout her practice: looming submarine silhouettes, vast industrial structures and striking landscapes frequently appearing across different series. Volcanoes and submarines lurk beneath, intermittently breaking through to the surface, obliquely referencing Thuring’s curiosity about what lies out of sight. Brick walls obstruct our view and untreated or woven canvas draw our attention to the surface of the painting itself and what might lie beyond. What is not obscured is often fragmented, disrupting the viewer’s familiarity of what they are looking at.

My first real experience of the art scene in East Sussex happened at the DLWP, when, under the stewardship of Polly Gifford Head of Education at the time, I started volunteering to help with their Art Sundays. I am very pleased to see Art Sundays remain a mainstay of the DWLP art offering today. These drop-in style workshops take place on the first and third Sunday of each month, 2:00 – 4:30pm, in the ground floor gallery and learning space and offer creative activities for all ages.

The DLWP originally came about because of an international competition initiated by the 9th Earl De La Warr, who laid the plaque which forms part of the floor of the DLWP foyer in 1935. Originally conceived as a People’s Palace’, this experiment in democratic social enterprise is the prototype for the modern cultural centre and the blueprint for the Southbank Centre. The Earl’s innovative socialist thinking went on to inspire both The Festival of Britain and the Arts Council. Today this iconic modernist building plays host to a world class art offering including contemporary exhibitions, comedy and film, music, and events.

2021 CT TDA13092 The Thuringer

© Caragh Thuring. Courtesy the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery. Photo: Richard Ivey

2021 CT TDA13431 Sleight of Hand ph Richard Ivey

© Caragh Thuring. Courtesy the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery. Photo: Richard Ivey

2016 CT TDA06839 The Silent Service

© Caragh Thuring. Courtesy the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery. Photo: Richard Ivey

Installation view The Weather Garden Anne Hardy curates the Arts Council Collection 17 February to 2 June 2019 Towner Eastbourne Photo by Angus Mills

The Weather Garden: Anne Hardy curates the Arts Council Collection. Towner Eastbourne. Photo by Angus Mills

A major solo exhibition by Zineb Sedira will be taking over the main gallery from 24 September 2022 to 8 January 2023. This exhibition is a collaboration between De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea, and Dundee Contemporary Arts and will be Sedira’s first show in a UK public gallery since 2009, when she exhibited in Southampton, Nottingham, and London. Drawing upon her personal history and close connection to Algeria, France, and the UK, she will explore ideas of identity, mobility, gender, environment, and collective memory. She will also address environmental and geographical issues, always going back and forth between the past and the future. 

Spanning both of the De La Warr Pavilion’s galleries and responding to our coastal location, we are delighted to present Zineb Sedira’s first exhibition in a UK public gallery for over 12 years, which follows her praised Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale. The exhibition will focus on the artist’s ongoing investigation into the conditions of transnational trade, identity, and migrant consciousness in a post-colonial context, within which the sea is a recurring motif.”
Joseph Constable, Head of Exhibitions DLWP

Born in 1963 in France to Algerian parents, Sedira studied at both Central Saint Martins and the Slade School of Art in London, followed by a period of research at the Royal College of Art. Although she now lives in London, she works between Algiers, London, and Paris where she is represented by the Kamel Mennour gallery. In 2011, she also set up aria (Artist residency in Algiers), so that artists could come and do research and develop projects, while exchanging with local artists at the same time.

I consider aria to be an extension of my artistic practice. This artist residency anchors my work more permanently in Algeria. It’s also the HQ of my extended Algerian artistic family. I sometimes include the work of an artist supported by aria in some of my exhibitions, or we collaborate more directly on the development or the making of works.”

Throughout her career Sedira has been a leading voice in addressing the question of what it means to live between different cultures, often bringing together autobiographical narration, fiction, and documentary genres. This new exhibition will focus on her ongoing investigation into the conditions of transnational trade, identity, and migrant consciousness in a post-colonial context, within which the sea is a recurring motif. 

In 2021 Sedira was shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize and in 2020 she was chosen to be the tenant of the French pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2021, postponed to 2022

Written by Lesley Samms MSc ANLP MAC Founder of Pure Arts Group.