Monday 24 December 2018

24th December - Hut 395

So Christmas Eve has arrived and the final Beyond Beach Hut Advent Calendar opening.  After eleven years, 264 different art installations, thousands of people, and innumerable litres of mulled wine and boxes of mince pies this wonderful community art event draws to a close.

As the theme this year has been Follow the Star (#Followthestar for the Church of England campaign of the same name) we decided that hut 395 would showcase all the stars who have taken part since 2008.  

So we created 264 light up stars featuring a photograph from every hut opening since that first night until tonight.  Because the artists, community groups, schools and beach hut owners have been the stars of this event, proving how creative people can be when given the chance to take part in an event like this.

God is a creator and when we do something creative we are doing something divine, sharing in the nature of God.  Its one of the reasons that human beings are creative.

God also has wonderful creative ways of reaching out to us, and sending his Son as a baby two thousand years ago is an ingenious and creative way to connect with us.

The true star of Christmas is Jesus, but we try not to show him as part of the art during Advent as he should first appear on Christmas Day.  

The feature art at the back of hut 395 was a painting by Salvador Dali of the Madonna and Child, showing us Jesus on the verge of entering the world - a fitting image for Christmas Eve.

We've loved doing this event and are grateful for so many people who came along tonight to say that this was church for them; this was something that brought them closer to God.  

It's been a privilege to host such a beacon of light in the darkness and we hope to come up with some new ideas in the future now that we have some more time on our hands - so keep an eye on our website for news of our plans.

May God bring light into your world this Christmas as you seek to follow him in whatever way that is appropriate to you.  
God bless you this Christmas and into 2019.

Sunday 23 December 2018

23rd December - Hut 367

Tonight we were invited to consider who the stars are in our lives as Hut 367 was the venue for a host of celebrities who many consider to be stars.

Are they worthy enough for you to follow?  What benefit do you get from following them?  Is there any purpose in following a celebrity/star?

All these questions were posed by the array of stars presented via Big Issue images on stars within the hut.

Artists Louise Mabbs and Susi Maxwell-Stewart collaborative artwork provoked many responses.

Advent is a time to focus on the outcomes that come from following Jesus.  Our theme this year is 'Follow the Star' - an opportunity to focus on light in the darkness.

The hut also contained a Christmas tree of stars and anyone coming along was invited to write about the stars in their now lives and add them to the tree.

The promised rain stayed away until after 6.30pm and there was a good crowd for our penultimate hut.

Our final hut of the 2018 Beach Hut Advent Calendar is also the last hut that Beyond will organise - it's up by the lagoon at number 395.

Saturday 22 December 2018

22nd December - Hut 362

It was a beautiful night tonight in a number of different ways.  The weather was mild, calm and still; there was an enormous full moon hanging low over the horizon; and hut 362 offered all sorts of interest and enquiry.

Laura was the artist tonight and she devised a trail of questions and clues to help people find the star.  These were placed around the promenade in front of the hut and were bathed in glorious moonlight.

The evening was supported by a good crowd from Bishop Hannington church in Hove who were keen to engage with the trail.

The pilgrimage led eventually to the hut where there was a message about the wise men and a little souvenir to take away.

Both the hut and the souvenir carried the same message - 'Wise men followed the star so we can follow the Son'.

We have almost reached the end of our Advent journey and eleven years of an incredibly varied and creative community art event.

Tomorrow we move just a few huts West to number 367 before our final hut on Christmas Eve.

Friday 21 December 2018

21st December - Hut 11

21st December marks our 21st hut and is also the midwinter solstice, the date when the days stop getting shorter and and we begin the long journey back towards summer.

To celebrate this here in Brighton we have the Burning of the Clocks festival which takes place in the centre of the city, and conveniently begins shortly after our beach hut opening ends.

The artist tonight had inclusivity as the focus for her art.  Sarah Watson specialises in collage work and created a collage for hut 11 showing a procession of people all following the star.  

Anyone can follow a star and the collage shows that with a an enormously diverse range of people represented in the crowd which winds away into the distance.

The whole scene was overseen by a beautiful copper star.

This is the last time we will visit a hut in the Eastern section of the seafront as all the rest of our huts are West of the King Alfred and heading towards Hove Lagoon.
Tomorrow we're at hut 362.

Thursday 20 December 2018

20th December - Hut 437

We were at our most Westerly hut for the 20th day of the our advent calendar, with only 4 more days to go to the end of the final Beyond Beach Hut Advent Calendar. 

The art tonight was created by the Kidz Klub which is a Christian organisation that runs youth clubs across the city.   You can read more about them HERE

They like to think outside the box and took their concept beyond the doors of the hut with a very impressive display.  The rays of light from their star burst from the baby lying on a simple wooden trestle as though the Son of God was sending his light out to dispel the darkness of the night.

Strictly speaking of course, Jesus is not born until Christmas Day, so this baby was a little premature, but the effect was so dramatic that it was worthwhile altering the chronology slightly.

Tomorrow we travel as Far East as it's possible to go as we're at hut 11.

Wednesday 19 December 2018

19th December - Hut 341

The theme this year has been 'Follow the Star' which will come to a climax on Christmas Eve when we will encourage people to engage with the Church of England #Follwthestar initiative, you can find out more here.

So we've seen lots of different types of stars during the Beach Hut Advent Calendar but hut 341 contained the largest star yet.

Carry has been creating beach hut art for the calendar since 2009 with her trademark tissue paper 'stained glass' and tonight continued that tradition.

We've also seen lots of Christmas lights which is an important theme for Advent and were also treated to another type of light tonight as there was a fire pit burning, offering both light and warmth.

Tomorrow we're at the very Western end of the seafront at hut 437.

Tuesday 18 December 2018

18th December - Hut 82

Yet another stormy night with high winds and pouring rain for the 18th hut of the Advent Calendar.  

God is either reinforcing our decision to make this the last year of this event or is unhappy that we've announced that we're not doing it any more!

We had a distinctly modern take on our Follow the Star theme tonight as Kate and her family created a border check point where the wise men had been stopped as they followed the star from the East.

The second chapter of Matthew tells us about the political situation in Jerusalem when the wise men arrived to ask King Herod where they would find the newborn king signified by the star.

Our modern day wise men travelled in a minivan, instead of on camels, and had star charts and astronomical information to help guide them on their way.

But they were stopped at the check point with some force as border guards shot at their vehicle and erected a stop barrier and barbed wire to block their way.

The hut itself was stark and bare, turned into a guard house complete with check in desk and military insignia.

It even felt as though the weather was helping to reinforce the overall atmosphere of deprivation and difficulty which must have been the experience of all those who were involved in the nativity story.

Tomorrow night we move West to hut 341.

Monday 17 December 2018

17th December - Hut 225

After quite a few days of terrible weather, we finally had a dry and relatively calm evening for the 17th hut of the Beach Hut Advent Calendar.

St. Andrew's school in Hove created the installation in hut 225 with stars in a red and silver colour scheme.

The display also included a few characters from the nativity story - the first time these have appeared in the advent calendar this year.

We had a manger with the baby Jesus and beside him was a small calf, representative of all the animals that could have been in the stable.  This calf had starred in the school nativity play and was called Simon Cow-ell!

Above this pastoral scene, swinging around in the wind, was a collection of beautiful three dimensional stars intertwined with strings of Christmas lights.

On the floor of the hut were more stars, twinkling with more lights. This reminded me of the Oscar Wilde quote - "we are all of us lying in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars".

There's something about the down to earth nature of the stable birth and the glorious celebrations of the angels of the nativity that fits with this quote.

Tomorrow we move back to Hove Lawns to hut 82.