Following on from the success of our 2022 ‘Caught a Curiosity’ project for Hastings Storytelling Festival we were commissioned to devise a follow up project for the 2023 edition focusing specifically on the community in Broomgrove, an estate and ward of Hastings to the north of the town which experiences very little engagement with the wider community and high levels of unemployment.

The Broomgrove Eclipse was a multi-strand project which built momentum toward an interactive storytelling event featuring secret messages and symbols hidden around the estate, a lit up pylon and a display of the Eclipse on a 5m LED screen in the community centre car park.

As a further development of our Curious Kids Festival Moth Trap project we held a series of workshops with community youth projects, In2Play and Motivate, and engaged their young people in the process of patterning Moth wings in order to become part of ‘The Broomgrove Eclipse’ (Eclipse being the collective name for a group of Moths) to be presented, large scale, on the weekend of the Festival. The young people were given moth wing templates which featured information on the species and clues as to how they are patterned in nature and we very much encouraged pattern development through colour and collage so those taking part created a moth distinguishable as their own and identifiable in the Eclipse.

To create legacy for the project we worked with developer Kester Sheridan for the Eclipse to be an interactive Augmented Reality (AR) experience available as a web AR app at the end of the project. We also commissioned Psychogeography author Gareth E. Rees, with whom we had previously worked with on our MOTHer project in 2018, to write a narrative taking in some of the history of the area and a how a Power Station, which dominated the landscape and provided jobs to the local community, decommissioned in 1997, brought about a new type of Moth which would help in global pollination efforts with the decline of Bees due to climate change and pollution.

We wanted to install a sense of pride and wonder in the young people of Broomgrove giving a focused experience unique to them and the narrative of their community while highlighting conversations around climate change and human influence. On the night of the Broomgrove Eclipse professional storyteller Amelia Armande guided the young people to various locations around the estate revealing elements of the story, artwork and interventions and bringing the project to life. The symbols mentioned in the narrative were applied to walls and fencing with UV paint and all those on the trail were given UV light keyrings so they could individually find and explore the story elements. On site there was a 5m LED screen which featured the Eclipse made from the results of the Moths created during the workshops and a photobooth set up, developed by Kester Sheridan, which allowed attendees to have their photos taken and applied to a Moth UV map and added to the Eclipse there and then. By the end of the evening there were 123 Moths in the Eclipse.

One significant quote from the evening was the fact that kids from all over the normally divided estate came together without any trouble and experienced something that they would hopefully remember for a long time to come.

Thanks to:  18 Hours/ Fresh Visions -Motivate/ In2Play/ White Ice Sounds/ Kester Sheridan/ Gareth E Rees/ Amelia ‘Ace’ Armande

Photography by Sara-Lou Bowery + ZEROH