Winner of the 2022 open call with Unit 33 books, this special edition publication showcases the spirit of events in and around Hastings, and Euan Bakers’ love for the energy and outpouring of creativity that is a Hastings festival.
At the book launch in early February the studio at Unit 33, run by Fraser Carr Miles and Annie Machin, was suitably packed and busy, it was fascinating walking around the studio. Euan Bakers’ book is beautifully produced, and as an art book lover and graphic designer, it was opportunity to handle the samples and discover the processes and materials available for production. I discovered that Unit 33 offer book binding courses as well as a studio membership scheme. Euan’s book was the highlight of the open studio, packaged in a bespoke ‘Jack in the Green’ printed bag.
Euan speaks enthusiastically of the inspirational town and the experience of creating his book. “Hastings is a town that’s hard to describe if you’ve never visited before. It’s a town that has deep roots within the fishing industry, a seaside resort in a corner of East Sussex. At first glance there’s not much to it – it’s small, it’s wet, it’s windy. The winter is long, howling winds rip through the streets, the townsfolk batten down the hatches and prepare for the imminent dark and stormy days ahead. But once you live here, you start to realise that there’s something different about Hastings.
“Come May, the town explodes into a world of celebration, colour, music and culture, and welcomes the start of warmer summer days. Jack in The Green Festival sees the town painted green with a procession of dancers, other worldly costumes, smoke grenades and thundering drums echoing through every corner of the old town. Thousands of people from all sorts of backgrounds drink together in the street, and wait eagerly to see the procession roll through onto the hilltop where the Jack is slain. It’s a day of pure ecstasy and unity after experiencing the hardship of a Hastings winter.
“Everybody remembers their first Hastings festival, as you realise how truly unique the town is. People throw their heart and souls into creating their costumes, and the atmosphere is one that I have never experienced anywhere else. Hastings manages to turn celebration into an art form, and documenting it in a way it hasn’t been done before is a creative challenge. I wanted to celebrate the immense amount of effort, care and attention to detail that is put in to these festivals. I wanted to capture the moments from this strange little town that couldn’t be seen anywhere else in the world, right on my doorstep. The thought that Jack in The Green was just the first festival of the season filled me with a creative energy, a joy and desire to capture the rest of what Hastings has to offer.
“Having an introverted personality makes confrontation and approaching people difficult sometimes. As a photographer these festivals allow me to become invisible in a large crowd, but at the same time step out of my comfort zone and be surrounded by creative energy.
“Over the festival season I photographed the Pram Race, Hastings Pride, Pirate Day, St Leonards Festival, Bonfire Night, Voodoo Fest and the protests against Southern Water’s sewage dumps. What I found from attending these events was the overwhelming sense of community, and the pride that residents have about the place they live. Capturing the atmosphere and the people that live here gives me a sense of belonging. There’s an energy here that can only be described if you experience it yourself.
“Working with Unit 33 was an absolutely seamless experience from start to finish, Fraser and Annie worked tirelessly to bring this book together. What I found from the experience was that condensing all of my photographs down was a difficult process (I take a lot of photographs), trying to piece it together and decide on pairings was like repeating a word until it no longer sounds like a word. It was interesting to see how other people paired images together that I had previously thought wouldn’t fit. I am forever grateful for being given this opportunity, all of the work that was put into it and I can only hope that good things come from it.”
Hastings by Euan Baker is available as a handmade hardback, signed edition of 150. The book consists of 72 pages of photographs, an essay by Euan and a dedication by Unit 33 studios and a special edition 2 colour RISO print.