Martin Poole reflects on the highlights of Beyond’s Hove beach hut advent calendar after ten years of success at Christmas time.
Hove’s annual beach hut advent calendar has opened its doors to the people of Brighton and Hove for one last time this year. Martin launched Beyond with his team a decade ago as an organisation dedicated to connecting spirituality with creativity, and one of their innovative events included the advent calendar installations.
Every year, 24 beach huts on Hove Seafront are designated to a Christmas-themed creative space, with each containing a different installation encompassing the year’s theme. This year’s theme is ‘Follow the Star’, and Beyond invite you to return to the spiritual essence of Christmas, offering mulled wine, hot chocolate and mince pies for your enjoyment.
Martin highlighted the fundamental reasons why he believed the beach hut advent calendar to be such a success: “Brighton and Hove is an inherently creative place, and so giving people an opportunity to be creative is something that is always going to work in Brighton. There’s a real hunger for people to connect with or reconnect with the spiritual roots of the season.”
“Quite quickly, we were able to get into a situation where the hut owners who had huts but didn’t feel they were very creative but they wanted to be involved”, Martin said. The annual event is a huge collaboration between creatives around the city, giving artists the opportunity to utilise the space offered by beach hut owners.
The installations had provided plentiful highlights for Martin over the past ten years: “We’ve had a couple of years where there’s a lady who is a contemporary dancer, who has put together with some colleagues a full-on contemporary dance within her hut.”
He also fondly recollected on one interpretation of the theme ‘angel’ a couple of years ago, where a family had thought out angels as messengers from God and they were thinking about how we send messages today: “Somebody completely dressed the inside of their hut in tinfoil, and one of their children in a space suit…It’s all through digital technology bouncing around satellites around the world so that was the spin they put on it.”
Martin himself has his own beach hut, and so the Christmas Eve display is reserved for the Beyond team to create their own installation. This week the beach huts were offered to local schools to each conjure up their own interpretation of the theme, getting the pupils involved and sometimes even presenting their school choir.
The organisation has decided to conclude running their beach hut advent calendar this year: “Beyond was set up in 2008 to innovate around art and spirituality and so continuing to do an annual event isn’t particularly innovative. Coming up with the idea was and encouraging people to be innovative in what they do for every hut.”
While Beyond will be working on creating new events for 2019, discussions are taking place working on the possibility of the beach huts continuing under a new guise next year; although, nothing is set in stone yet.
Beyond’s Hove beach hut advent calendar runs throughout December until Christmas Eve from 5.30pm until 6.30pm. For more information on which beach hut is open each day, visit the Beyond website.