September –
October 2016

Inspired by the 950th
anniversary of the
Battle of Hastings
26th February 2016

1066 And All That. And This, And So Much More

New contemporary arts festival launched to commemorate one of English history’s most important dates.

Marking the 950th anniversary of William the Conqueror’s invasion of England and the Battle of Hastings, a new contemporary arts festival is being created. ROOT 1066 International Festival promises to bring innovative and fresh perspectives on the history and legacy of 1066 from some of the best artists working in Britain and France today.

ROOT 1066 will be composed of spectacular indoor and outdoor events across 1066 Country in East Sussex staged by internationally renowned artists and companies. Glyndebourne Opera, Chris Levine, Wildworks Theatre, Marcus Harvey and Turner Prize short-listed Fiona Banner – plus many more - will present specially-commissioned works, exhibitions and shows.

Announcing ROOT 1066, Cllr Peter Chowney, leader of Hastings Borough Council said: “The impact of the Norman Conquest on our country cannot be underestimated; it laid down the bedrock of English language and culture.  That’s why we've called the festival 'ROOT' 1066. It demonstrates just how diverse we are as a nation, how our modern culture has been shaped by centuries of invasion, immigration and settlement. The main festival period will run throughout September 2016 right up to the week of the anniversary itself, on 14th October. However, we will be running events and activities in the run up to ROOT 1066 and beyond, to build its profile and create something that lasts beyond the festival year.”

He added “We will also be hosting a series of major exhibitions in the area, courtesy of our partner venues, Jerwood Gallery, De La Warr Pavilion and Hastings Museum and Art Gallery. But ROOT 1066 will not only act as a stage for works by established artists and performers, it will also create a spotlight for local community groups, schools and colleges. We hope that people from across the country, Europe and beyond will be able to visit our town and enjoy this festival, and appreciate how this corner of Sussex became the birthplace of modern English culture, in all its diverse and kaleidoscopic variations."

Some of the highlights of the programme, curated by Hastings Borough Council’s Polly Gifford (former director of the respected Bridport Arts Centre), include a pioneering large scale sound and light event designed by the acclaimed light artist Chris Levine – famous for his 3d light portraits of The Queen, the Dalai Lama and Kate Moss and his site specific collaborations with The Eden Project and top recording artists.  He will be working in collaboration with sound artists to create a spectacular immersive experience on the seafront, which will include an invitation beamed over the Channel to Normandy to signify the start of the festival. 

Acknowledging William the Conqueror’s great record of his new kingdom’s wealth, the Domesday Book, Wildworks Theatre Company will compile a 21st century version. It will be an archive of origins and stories, charting how people arrived in Hastings and where they came from, in the past and in the present, becoming a record of journeys, identity and those emotions that so connect people to the historic town and surrounding area.

The Battle of Hastings was the last time that Britain was successfully invaded and the last time that there was such a sudden mixing of cultures causing a lasting shift in our cultural identity. When Cultures Collide: A Community Opera, will use performance as a means for the people of ‘1066 country’, particularly young people, to both examine their identity, cultural differences and similarities, and also create a new anthem that represents the town’s culturally rich and diverse community. The project is being co-ordinated by Battle Festival and Glyndebourne Opera.

Paying cheeky homage to British Museum Director Neil MacGregor’s ground-breaking series for BBC Radio 4, A History of the World in 100 Objects, Hastings Museum and Art Gallery aims to tell The Story of Hastings in 66 Objects.

This exhibition will start by identifying key themes and stories from the history of Hastings. The public will then be invited to vote for their favourite items from the museum’s collection that illustrate those stories, in order to determine the final, defining 66 objects. The resultant exhibition will explore the history of Hastings, from 1066 to the present day. You can vote now at

One of Hasting’s most popular cultural institutions, Jerwood Gallery, is putting on a major exhibition of the celebrated English artist and painter, Marcus Harvey. Part of the YBA (Young British Artists) movement, Harvey has family links with the town and his recent work reflects certain aspects of 1066 history, its naval history, heroes and villains, along with the topography of the coast and surrounding landscape. The exhibition will be the largest public exposure of his work to date.

Another leading British artist, Fiona Banner, will be the focus of the De La Warr Pavilion’s exhibition of new works.  Banner is best known for her conceptual approach to ideas around conflict, language and how historical events become fictionalised over time.

All these events, and many more, will work in partnership with other 1066 commemorations and celebrations, including the Battle Festival (throughout October) and a monumental re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings (15 & 16 October).

Image: Cllr Peter Chowney (Council Leader), Cllr Dawn Poole (Lead Member for Regeneration and Culture), Liz Gilmore (Director of Jerwood Gallery), Polly Gifford (ROOT 1066 Festival Director)