Beach Huts, Albert Dock, until 3rd July, free.
As somebody who once upon a time would not have chosen to go to a gallery, I feel that any project which makes creativity relevant should be celebrated. In between getting to work, eating, sleeping and all the other things which occur in life, it’s easy to get stuck in ways of thinking. Step forward Metal Liverpool, who have curated the beach huts which you may have noticed appear by the Albert Dock last week. The huts are here to inspire creative thinking in the concurrent International Festival of Business, taking place in the Exhibition Centre. Now I’m sure this isn’t very adult of me, but even the words “International Festival of Business” remind me of all the reasons I have for never wanting to work ‘in an office’. Trying to bring a bit of creativity to the event sounds like a fine plan. Maybe we can all learn something from it too.
Unfortunately, I didn’t seem to time my visit well. First of all, I couldn’t go to last week’s opening tour because I was away. Then I wanted to go one evening last week – and it poured it down. Every night. As much as there would have been something very British about going to a beach hut in the rain, I am unashamedly fair-weather about these things. So it was only this Saturday that I was able to visit. And because the huts are aimed at IFB delegates, quite a lot of them were closed. This is a shame as a couple of these huts sounded particularly interesting.
Of the ones that were open, each one was trying to draw attention to something different. Some of the huts are there to promote the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ cities, of which Hull and Leeds were open today. I thought the Hull hut was a good example of what these cities can do to promote themselves. Recognise that they can’t compete with London on some things, but can instead offer completely other ones – such as the Museum of Club Culture, which this hut is about. Showing a new way of looking at something – isn’t that what the best art does?
Then there are the artistic huts, with diverse themes to make you think. The one which most reminded me of an art installation was 15: How can we make all work meaningful work? in which you are invited to physically interact with the hut. Then the ‘prettiest’ hut was 18: The Northern Flowerhouse. I don’t like cities in which nature has been entirely superceded. The pictures and phrases adorning the hut’s walls have been chosen to make you think about this and, to me, how it’s important not to lost sight of beauty in the onslaught of development and profit.
My favourite experience, though, was at the Carnival of Enterprise hut from Suitcase Ensembl, right next to the wheel. I got there just as two pirates were starting to sing and play ukuleles, which really was as silly and fun as it sounds (see for yourself). I thought to myself: If I’m enjoying this on a Saturday, imagine how refreshing it must be to come out of the conference to this kind of thing.
The huts are here for the next 2 weeks, until the end of the IFB. I didn’t know what to expect from the huts, and their target audience is clear. But they are creative, and relevant to anyone who works. If you’re out for a lunchtime or post-work stroll, or looking for inspiration, they might just be what you need.