Hastings businesses celebrated in outdoor photo exhibition
More than 40 of Hastings Old Town’s shop and bar owners are being celebrated as part of an ‘outdoor gallery’.
The portraits, which have been unveiled in George Street, were shot by Sara-Louise Bowrey, a photographer who normally spends most of her time shooting some of the world’s biggest bands on huge festival stages, as well as the best of Hastings musical talent in venues around the town.
Originally titled ‘Traders in tiers’ as a website project on www.hastingsflyer.com to document business owners in lockdown, the series quickly transformed into a way of helping shops and pubs get ready to come out of restrictions and return to normal trading.
Now there are 22 large prints on display on the boarded-up frontage of the old Amusements, with a final few still to come.
John Bownas, who manages the Hastings Business Improvement District (Love Hastings), also runs the Hastings Flyer music listings website in his spare time.
He said: “With no bands to list or review this seemed like a good thing to do to support the town – and we had tens of thousands of views across the website and our social media pages within the first few weeks.
“People started asking about whether we would publish them somewhere else, so we talked with businesses through the Old Town Traders group and the idea of using these hoardings was suggested.
“The owners of the building were really supportive and the council gave us half the money to get the printing done.”
Sara-Louise Bowrey had her work featured on the BBC during lockdown when she captured the town’s musicians at a time when they were unable to perform live.
Speaking about the latest project, she said: “When people talk about supporting small local businesses they are talking about the lives and livelihoods of the people who run them.
“I felt it was really important to let people put faces to the names of shops they pass or go into every day to help get the ‘shop local’ message even more firmly across.”
Mayor of Hastings, Cllr James Bacon, who is ward councillor for Old Hastings, said: “I absolutely love it when different organisations work together to help each other out; this project has done just that.
“I am very pleased that Hastings Borough Council could part fund this work and I would like to thank everyone involved in the whole process of getting these photos up in George Street, Old Hastings Ward, which clearly promotes the amazing businesses in Hastings Old Town and puts a face to those beyond the doors. Let’s hope that this summer will be a prosperous one for all of our local traders.”
Robbie Clark, owner of Mame’s Place, and chairman of the Old Town Traders Association, said: “We are so grateful for John and Sara’s help to support us in advertising our wonderful diverse range of businesses here in Hastings Old Town.
“Follow our Facebook and Instagram pages for updates, advertising and everything Old Town! Thanks again for your continued support and here’s to a great summer of trading.”