Christmas Eve is here along with
our biggest crowd and a special piece of art in hut 395.
The Beyond team always keep
Christmas Eve for ourselves as we like to create some art as part
of an evening schedule that includes carol singing, a reading and
some prayers that all follows a similar theme.
The theme tonight was birth and new
life as we are on the eve of Jesus' birthday. The hut
contained a large projection of an image of the expectant Mary
beautifully rendered in a modern icon style.
Through the wonders of modern
technology we were able to see into her womb and watch an
ultrasound of her baby as he wriggled and moved
This image was surrounded with
garlands of flowers and at the foot of the hut were hundreds of
daffodil buds. These were there to remind us of new life and
everyone was encouraged to take a flower with them and put it in
water as it will then burst into life tomorrow.
The whole thing
was accompanied by a heartbeat soundtrack when we weren't
singing carols. All the carols we sang focussed on Jesus'
birth and we read the account of his birth in the second chapter of
the gospel of Luke.
This felt like a fitting climax to
our tenth Beach Hut Advent Calendar as we look forward to the birth
of Jesus tomorrow. We wish you all a blessed Christmas and
pray that you will experience the new life that comes from knowing
The art installation in Hut 367 had
been given a title by artist Louise Mabbs - No Cradle, No Cross -
highlighting the fact that if Jesus had not been born then there
wouldn't have been a crucifixion and salvation for the
The centre piece of the
installation was a large cross which filled the back wall of the
hut and which was made from old foil mince pie containers.
Throughout the month we have been collecting these as people
have discarded them after eating the free mince pies we give out
every night. So in a way everyone has contributed to making
this artwork. In front of the 'mince pie cross' a
wire bowl was hung and a torch shone on it in such a way that the
shadow of the intricate design of the bowl was projected onto the
back wall. Then we could see that this contained the word
'peace' many times, woven into the wire that made up the
This recognised that fact that at
Jesus' birth the angels sang "peace on earth, goodwill to all" and
that one of the names given to him in the Bible was Prince of
Peace. Either side of the hut, hung on the
doors, was a set of gossamer pockets containing a series of
interesting and unusual Christmas cards. Many of these also bore a message
of peace to the world. Our final hut tomorrow has become a
bit of a tradition and is number 395, as it has been for most of
the preceding years.
There is benefit to simplicity and
hut 296 showed us that tonight. This Aspect of the Nativity
was just the basic essentials of that scene - a baby wrapped in
cloth and lying on a bale of straw. The baby was lit by a little
spotlight and in the photographs of the hut the place where the
baby lie was a pool of light with no baby in sight.
Perhaps this is appropriate because
of course Jesus isn't born until Christmas Day (although he has
been present in other huts during the Beach Hut Advent
Something that the people of two
thousand years ago wouldn't have been able to understand was the
wonder of electric candles which could be placed amongst the straw
of the hut without setting everything on fire!
A simple star hung above everything
highlighting the merest hint of a heavenly host of angels through a
series of tiny angel wings suspended in space.
It was very calm and pretty warm on
the seafront tonight given the time of year. There was an air
of peace and calm as it was a very low tide so the waves were quite
quiet and there wasn't very much traffic noise from the
Hut 341 exuded that same sense of
peace and calm as it was dressed all in blue providing a simple
backdrop to a large star of wonder. The star was made from
hundreds of torn up pieces of coloured tissue paper, pasted to make
a thin multi-coloured film.
The star was then lit from behind
so that the colours shone out into the darkness. The overall
effect was like an abstract stained glass shape that hovered in
mid-hut. The hut was framed with garlands of
ivy and other evergreen leaves which were intertwined with some
Somehow, even though we were
outside, the evening felt cosy and this was helped by a fire
pit and the chance to sit close to the flickering flames if you did
feel cold at all. This also connected us with another
event in Brighton tonight - The Burning of the Clocks. This
involves a procession of homemade lanterns which are taken to the
beach and thrown onto a bonfire. This happens today as this
is the winter solstice and the moment in the calendar when the
days start getting longer again.
Hut 189 became a gallery tonight
with an artwork, presented in the the same way that so many pieces
of art are shown - on an artist's easel. Simply mounted in
the centre of the hut, the picture of the Madonna and child shone
out in the darkness bringing light and colour to the Hove
seafront. From a distance the picture looked
like a finely painted image but close up it became clear that this
was a collage, skilfully created by artist Sarah Watson using
torn up magazines as her medium.
The overall image was created by
carefully choosing and applying fragments of coloured paper from
different magazine photographs.
In some cases bits of the original
imagery could be seen and these helped to add detail and
texture to the final artwork.
Mary carefully cradled the infant
Jesus onlooking intently into his face looking as though she
was making a soothing sound to help him sleep or maybe singing
a lullaby. Jesus was clearly asleep, oblivious
to his surroundings and at peace in his mother's arms.
Around the base of the installation
were small twinkling stars, glowing brightly against the blue base
swathed across the floor of the hut. These reminded us of
the halo of stars that often accompany images of the
Madonna. The installation included a
celebratory soundtrack courtesy of hut owners Michelle and
Eddie. Our next hut is number 341