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We are proud to offer learning opportunities for visitors of all ages through our expansive public programme. This runs in two seasons, Autumn / Winter and Spring / Summer, in three strands: Adult Classes, Art Shoal for 5-10 year olds, Young Artists Lab for 11-16 year olds.

We are also working on a Young Ambassador scheme for 16-26 year olds. Please contact if you or someone you know would be interested in this.

Alongside our public programme, we also run an annual schools programme, Pearls of the Sea (see below) and an award-winning digital outreach scheme via our telepresence robot (also see below), which allows remote guided and self-guided access to the gallery.

A small group of school students in the upper gallery, looking at the work of Nengi Omuku

Pearls of the Sea

Pearls of the Sea is Hastings Contemporary’s flagship local schools engagement programme. Since its launch in 2015, Pearls of the Sea has given thousands of local children the opportunity to respond to modern and contemporary artworks, explore their creativity in our learning studio, and get inspired by seeing their art displayed alongside internationally renowned artists.

Throughout the academic year, children from up to eight Hastings and St. Leonards schools work with local artists in a series of gallery visits, school visits and workshops to produce their own artworks that are then exhibited at the gallery. Teachers are provided with Career Personal Development sessions to enhance their arts delivery skills. The programme culminates in the annual Pearls of The Sea celebratory exhibition at Hastings Contemporary where the students and their families are given complimentary gallery entry to view and celebrate their work.

The theme of for 2023/24 is The Sea and Me. Students will explore their relationship with the local coastline and environmental issues through a diverse range of creative projects including cyanotype printmaking, seaweed dyes, puppetry, music & movement workshops and building miniature wooden net shops.

The participating schools in 2023/24 are:

Ark Blacklands, Year 3-4, working with Olivia Abdallaoui
Ark Castledown, Year 3, working with Hattie Collins
Baird Primary Academy, Year 5, working with Toya Watson
Dudley Infant Academy, Year 2, working with Dagmara Rudkin
Ore Village Primary, Year 4, working with Emmanuel MacDonald
Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School, Year 1, working with Gilda Silva
Saxon Mount School, Year 8, working with Janey Moffat

Robot Tours

Hastings Contemporary made headlines during the first national lockdown in 2020 when we began using a telepresence robot to run robot tours, offering a chance to visit the gallery remotely.

The telepresence robot, developed by Double Robotics, is an innovative tool that helps arts organisations such as Hastings Contemporary work to overcome barriers of isolation and exclusion. We are delighted that, with the robot, we can give visitors an opportunity to experience the gallery in a new way. We believe that the robot also helps to provide an insight into the lived experiences of disabled people in a creative and collaborative manner.

We are grateful to Esther Fox, Hastings Contemporary Trustee and researcher on the D4D project as part of her role as Head of the Accentuate Programme, and to Praminda Caleb-Solly, Professor for Assistive Robotics and Intelligent Health Technologies at Bristol Robotics Laboratory, for their practical and technical facilitation of this project. We are also grateful to Hastings Contemporary Trustee Nicholas Maclean for the considerable help he has given with the tours.

Being Here: Accessible tours and workshops

We are excited to have secured funds through the Accentuate Programme to offer Robot Tours to groups and individuals in the local area who may be unable to travel to the gallery. The tours will provide the opportunity for people to visit exhibitions from the comfort of their home or community centre.

We can offer robot tours and creative sessions for those who identify as disabled and/or have long term health conditions. You just need access to a laptop or mobile phone with internet connection and we will explain the rest. For more information or to book a tour email or call 01424 728377.

Comments from some of our robot tour passengers:

“Unfortunately we are unable to visit Hastings – or anywhere – at the moment, so it is really lovely to have a tour. It was very interesting and informative.”

“Many thanks once again for an excellent experience. I can really see the benefit of this type of tour, beyond the pandemic, for people who are unable to attend the gallery for whatever reason. I certainly wouldn’t have seen this exhibition otherwise. I look forward to visiting in the future.”