Callisto Searle – Hiraeth – 9th August to 19th August (Closed Sundays)

Arts Lab, First Floor, Sun Pier House

Hiraeth opens up an immersive installation space, appealing to multiple senses to evoke a sense of quiet loss and the slow recovery of memories through flawed and imperfect story-telling.

You are invited to come spend a little or a lot of time here.

Bathe in the sounds, scents and sights, spend some time with your memories and mine, with the feelings that society doesn’t make time and space for.

“Homecoming, and longing for home, is a common human experience, although not one that we all experience in the same way. Some of the harsher forms of longing for home can be experienced only after a dramatic loss or change, or longing for the idea of a home that was never a part of our own past.

In June 2023 I worked with friends and members of the public to collect images of home and stories of their experiences, both bitter and sweet, for the public installation “Sightings of Home”. I heard stories of both kinds.

The foundational nature of concepts such as home, family, mother and father, have the potential to evoke feelings of strong love, deep pain and a confusing mixture of the two.”

Callisto Searle – “Sightings of Home” Bawley Bay, June2023, part of the Gravesham Fringe 2023

“Hiraeth is a word of Welsh origin, sometimes called ‘cruel hiraeth’ in native literature. It describes a sense of longing like homesickness that is forever frustrated, because for some reason or another, it is impossible to return to that home. For me and my show, the word recognises the intensity of longing that can persist even after the object of longing is beyond our reach, such as in a loved one’s passing.”

Local artist Callisto Searle concludes the term of her Sun Pier House Artist Bursary Award with this solo show as she takes up residency at Studio 0 at Sun Pier House.

The installation presents a detailed sculpture made entirely of different papers and flour paste, embellished with straw and tea, over the course of Spring to Summer this year. It is the second life-sized paper portrait the artist has created in her artistic career and by far the most significant and challenging one.

The making of the paper portrait Spring-Summer 2023, Sun Pier House.

Found objects, “the old unloveables”, grace the walls, partially refurbished and carrying partial messages. Each object has a hidden story to be uncovered, as well as contributing to the overall story of the subject of the show.

The artist interacts directly with the Arts Lab space, in its last stint as a whole exhibition space before it is compartmentalised and converted to studios. She will be creating on-the-spot artworks incorporating the structure and windows of the space into original one-of-a-kind pieces of art. The impermanent paper-based artworks will be damaged as they are removed by the nature of their hanging. Within the course of the exhibition, the exhibits will undergo a process of “all-change” on the 15th, with a late viewing on the 17th where you are cordially invited to enjoy candy and cocktails while looking over the carnage and remains.

Date for your diary: Thursday 17th August 6pm – 9pm

Meet the artist, indulge your outer adult and inner child with cocktails made from local liquor and candy floss cups and enjoy sunset over the river through the floor to ceiling windows in the newly emptied space

Trigger Warning: themes of loss and grief, expect uncertainty and disorientation, watch your step and be watchful for Essex, the Thames, Southend Pier and Tilbury Ferry appearing outside of Sun Pier House. Temporal shifts and sensory stimulation to be expected.

The show is raising funds for and awareness of Cruse Bereavement Support, a brilliant charity offering important avenues for support and counselling for grief and loss.

A QR code on site allows visitors to donate any amount directly to Cruse through the “A Day for You” event, and visitors are welcome to take a commemorative card featuring original artwork from the show that has contact numbers for support charities on the reverse.

This is a safe space to engage with feelings of loss and recovery from loss.