Friday, 9 December 2016

9th December - Hut 402

The next door neighbour to last nights hut was host to our ninth opening in this years advent calendar.  It's not often that we get two huts next to each other and we've never had anything like this on consecutive days but tonight we only moved from 403 yesterday to 402 today.

There was another important number associated with the hut tonight and that was the number one hundred and forty.  That was because this hut was created by the wonderful women of the Mother's Union which is 140 years old this year.

To mark this occasion the hut was filled with 140 angels as a celebration of the work of the many angels who have volunteered over the years as part of this wonderful organisation.  With four million members worldwide the Mother's Union campaigns on women's rights and runs a variety of social welfare projects to help women who are otherwise disadvantaged.

Their vision is of a world where God's love is shown through loving, respectful and flourishing relationships. 

They are modern day angels, bringing practical help to places and people who have great need.

The angels they installed in the hut were as varied as the different women who are individual members of the organisation.  

There were stacks of cardboard angels, perhaps demonstrating how it might be possible for a great number of angels to dance on the head of a pin.

There were knitted angels, fan shaped angels, glass angels, peg angels and angel sculptures. 

The most impressive were the book angels, made by simply folding the pages of a book until you have an angel body, and cutting or folding the cover to create a pair of wings.

One in particular was made by folding the pages of an old prayer book which felt a very appropriate combination.

All of this was watched over by a portrait of Mary Sumner, a vicar's wife near Winchester and the founder of the organisation.

We stay at Hove Lagoon for our next hut which is number 424.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

8th December - Hut 403

Hut 403 was turned into a wardrobe for the evening by the children and teenagers of the CAMHS therapeutic art group and Touched Theatre.  The hut was hung with coats and the doors were only half open giving us a little glimpse inside.  

Peering out from between the coats was a puppet boy who was soon joined by a lion and a blonde haired woman.

These were Peter, Aslan and Susan, all characters from the Narnia books. 

The children wrote about their concept for this evening:  the characters are from a different world, just like angels.  They have the power to help people and Aslan protects the world from evil, just like angels.

The puppets had helpers who moved around the crowd giving out gifts of seeds which represent hope, chocolates which bring us joy and light to help us through the dark times.

The puppets had a number of different animators, sometimes adults, sometimes children and brought a very friendly atmosphere to the evening.

Angels are also well known for their singing and the group had written a song which they performed a number of times once they managed to get their backing technology to work!

Those who came along tonight will have no trouble finding our next beach hut as it's right next door at number 402.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

7th December - Hut 177

Tonight we were launched into outer space thanks to hut 177 and the artwork of Kira and Katie.

They had done their homework and discovered that the Bible describes angels as messengers, facilitating communication from heaven to earth.  

Fast forward to today and we find that we can communicate in ways that our ancestors would have regarded as miraculous and only possible for angelic beings.  

For example we can talk to someone hundreds of miles away whenever we want to or we can watch imagery from the other side of the world, far beyond the range of human sight.  

All of this is facilitated by the wonders of digital technology - a new form of angel - helping us to communicate by passing messages through the heavens as satellites whizz above our heads bouncing our words and images backwards and forwards at lightning speed.

The hut tonight showed us a representation of this with mini satellites floating amongst spinning rocks with streams of data connecting earth to heaven.  All of this was watched over by a space angel who stood guard like some sort of digital watchman.

Angels delivered the words of God and perhaps this is a reminder to us to look for the divine messages of hope and light that are integral to this season of Advent.

The next hut takes us up to Hove Lagoon and is number 403.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

6th December - Hut 73

The largest angel we've had so far inhabited hut 73 tonight, pretty much filling it and smiling out benevolently at the throng gathered for the event.

The angel hovered above a carpet of candles and seemed to be floating on light.

This angel has appeared at a beach hut before and is the creation of local artist Ros Lomax and has a beautiful serene expression on her face.

This raises a bit of a question about gender in relation to angels - are they male or female?  When mentioned in the Bible angels are universally described as male but it's also clear that they are genderless in heaven and are often portrayed as female in art.   

Hut 73 is in the parish of All Saints and the church is only a quarter of a mile directly north of our location tonight.

The whole display was put together by All Saints congregation member Sarah Sutherland-Rowe drawing on the creative talents of the young people of the church who made all the small silver angels in the hut.  

BBC TV news turned up to broadcast live from the hut and interviewed Sarah about the process of putting this together and her thoughts about advent.

The next hut is quite close to the King Alfred leisure centre and is number 177. 

Monday, 5 December 2016

5th December - Hut 305

The display in hut 305 this evening stretched far beyond the hut itself and almost filled the whole promenade.  Not only was the installation expansive but there was a lot to do and see throughout the evening.

The major part of the installation was a very simple spiral labyrinth outlined with evergreen branches and pots filled with sprigs of basil.  Everyone who came was invited to journey into the labyrinth and wind their way to the middle where they would find a young angel waiting to hand them a blessing.  These were written by elderly folk who had been asked what their wish for the world was.

The centre of the labyrinth also contained a simple Christmas tree prayer made from a pallet with the message 'Blessings of candle light and star light be with you'.

More pallets came into play beside the hut itself which asked what angels do in heaven when it is Christmas and reminded us to keep a place ready for them in our homes.

Yesterday we mentioned entertaining strangers unawares and this theme continued today as there was an opportunity to take a grab bag to give to a homeless person at some point.  This contained a hard warmer pack and a list of other items we could put in to make a homeless person Christmas better.

Inside the hut was a little row of very warm, inviting looking houses lined up under a beautiful image of a Christmas tree.

More pallet art reminded us of some key themes of the season - Joy, wisdom, love, hope, peace, believe.

On top of all of this we were treated to a series of dance performances by the young pupils of Hayley of Dancefit as well as the dulcet tones of a choir singing not only some Christmas carols but also their own version of Robbie Williams 'Angel' which was so prominent in hut 253 yesterday.

Our next hut is at the East end of the promenade and is number 73.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

4th December - Hut 253

Hut 253 brought a modern twist to the angel theme that we've set for the Advent Calendar this year.  

The hut was turned into a disco for the evening with a constant playlist of angel themed pop songs, including Robbie Williams and Annie Lennox.

The club had it's own VIP area that was roped off from the hut itself which was set aside as a beach front dance floor.  Security was provided by staff from Angels Inc. including the Archangel Michael himself who was on duty all night.

Dancing wasn't the only activity for those inside the hut.  Looking down on the dance floor was an angel who had shed her feathers into a bowl that sat in front of her with some instructions.

These read: Take a feather and name your angel, hold them tight to think about your special angel.

During the evening people took paper angels and wrote names on them and added them to the crowd watching the beach hut dance floor.

This hut reminded us that we can be entertaining angels unawares, especially in the strangers that we meet as part of our daily lives.  

One of the joys of the Beach Hut Advent Calendar is the opportunity to meet new people, make new friends and discover the angelic qualities of those around us.

The next hut is 305, just a little further to the west than the angel disco of tonight.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

3rd December - Hut 367

Hut 367 was inspired by the artist Cornelia Parker who takes ordinary objects and puts them into unusual installations, she's famous for blowing up a shed and suspending the fragments in mid-air.  

Crimson was the artist who worked with children at the Goldstone school to create angels from found objects such as leaves, orange slices and cinnamon sticks which were then suspended from a framework of branches spread in a lattice across the ceiling of the hut.

The whole scene was set against a white backdrop with silhouettes of snowflakes, stars and the Brighton Pavilion backlit so that they were projected into the scene.

There was an innovative addition to the hut in the form of a sound machine.  This consisted of a large box from which a series of white flexible tubes snaked, each tube terminating in a large golden ear trumpet.  

If you put the devices to your ear you could hear a number of different pieces of audio.

Some of the audio was children telling us about angels while others featured Crimson describing those people in her life who have been absolute angels when she needed them.  

These were all interspersed with recordings of the school orchestra rehearsing Christmas carols and the sound a baby heartbeat from within the womb - a sign of the wonder that eventually became Crimson's daughter.  This was there to remind us of the expectation of Advent as Mary waits for the birth of the baby promised to her by the Angel Gabriel.

Our next hut is number 253 between The View and Hove Lagoon.