Hastings Shrines

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Hastings Shrines was a small, beautiful project that demonstrated a simple and broadly accessible approach to engaging people with their local heritage through an arts activity.

Hastings-based artists – Esther Appleyard (now Fox) and Sharon Haward - ran two series of workshops at Hastings Museum and Art Gallery and the Horizon Community Learning Project in St Leonards. Participants were invited to spend time thinking about, discussing and exploring the parts of their local environment that were special or significant to them. They then created a small ‘shrine’ using photographs, materials, found objects, stones and sticks – anything that they might want to include. Participants didn’t have to produce a ‘shrine’ and there was no need to exhibit them, other than to each other.

Evaluating the workshops, Sharon Haward wrote:

People are very interested in where they live and often a have a broad understanding of the successes and failures of their local communities. They also tend to have lots of memories and stories to tell about their experiences in a range of venues and sites.

Many people think they don’t know much about a place because they haven’t been there very long, and it is fascinating to unravel the fact that  they have been creating a kind of personal history and relationship to the place since the day they arrived, and consequently know much more than they think.

The Shrines project is an eminently replicable approach to exchanging stories and histories about a shared environment in a relaxed and inclusive way.

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