Review: Metal Presents: Beach Huts

A waterfront encounter between business and alternative thinking

cinema hut and flowerhouse

Metal: Future Station – Beach Huts Launch
Location: Liverpool Waterfront, Hut 1 outside the BT Convention Centre.
Saturday 11th June 2016 2:00pm – 3:00pm
Words and images by Steff Cain
A celebration of the arts and culture is not the first thing that springs to mind when contemplating the International Festival for Business 2016. Typically, you would imagine a global marketplace for making connections and doing deals. Surprisingly, both would be correct.

Located between the entrances to the Exhibition Centre and the Albert Dock, twenty Beach Huts curated by Metal have arrived to showcase the best in British art, culture, design, DIY enterprise, and digital technology during the International Festival for Business 2016 – which officially opens at 1:30pm on Monday 13th June.

The Beach Huts are occupied by a diverse range of organisations from the Northern Powerhouse cities (Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, Leeds and Hull). Many are occupied by artists, poets and design-makers responding to questions from national commentators and thinkers on the festival topics. Local performance and community organisations are also out in force to celebrate Liverpool’s vibrant culture and enterprise. The Huts utilise the arts to create an important and desperately needed dialogue. In fact, multiple dialogues; Firstly, between the delegates and the public; secondly, between the Northern Powerhouse cities; and thirdly, between the business world and the world of the arts. Each compactly, concisely and creatively confronts an important topic. As a whole, they powerfully tackle a myriad of issues, such as the creative and digital economies, the role of technology and our interaction with it, manufacturing, sustainability, energy and the environment – all themes from IFB2016.

During the launch, many curious passers-by had already entered the huts, apparent by the participatory evidence left behind. Trends in the answers to questions, such as ‘What makes young people feel stretched in an age of austerity?’ (Hut 5), had already begun to emerge. Young adults were already surrounding The Carnival of Enterprise (Hut 8) in a cloud of excitement to take part in an improvised performance, The Henchmen’s Recruitment, a comedic take on an imperative life skill. The Beach Huts allow for an entertaining and exciting way to engage with realities that may seem too complex or too negative when dealt with in traditional ways. They therefore open a window to the business and political arena for new audiences and demographics – an extremely encouraging concept. And for those already familiar with current issues, it’s still a very refreshing and innovative way to open discussion, progression and possible alliances.

Whether your interest is piqued by arts and culture, business, or politics – you’ll be thoroughly entertained through creativity and absorb a wealth of information, even if you don’t deliberately intend to do both.

The eclectic mix of Beach Huts are open for exploration over the course of three weeks, 11th June – 3rd July 2016. See below for a summary of each Hut.
The Beach Huts

1. The Way-finder Hut
The beach huts are situated, but don’t need to be accessed, in chronological order. Make your way here – outside the front entrance to the BT Convention centre – for the official beginning, information and directions.

2. What sort of nature do we want in the Anthropocene?
Artist Hilary Jack responds to a question from Gaia Vince, author of ‘Adventures in the Anthropocene’. The Anthropocene is a new evolutionary stage of our planet where the human impact has a greater significance than nature. A giant palm has broken through the roof of the hut, suggesting what kind of nature we may expect in this new age. @hilaryjack

3. Northern Powerhouse – Sheffield
Studio Polpo fabricate a piece of Portland works in Liverpool. Portland Works is one of the last remaining working examples of a purpose built metal trades factory, and the place in which stainless steel was first produced. The hut tells the story of the individuals and organisations involved in supporting this process, and the incredible diversity of people working in the building. @PortlandWorks @StudioPolpo

4. Northern Powerhouse – Liverpool
FACT (Foundation for Art and Technology) present the OLF (Object Liberation Front) City Game. An experimental city game based between FACT and a Beach Hut using equipment from Google’s Internet of Things Research Program and a collection of makeshift machines. The OLF will challenge the public to piece together a series of clues to discover more about our relationship with the objects that surround us. To participate venture to FACT or the OLF Beach Hut between 12:00pm and 7:00pm, Monday – Friday. @FACT_Liverpool

5. What makes young people feel stretched in an age of austerity?
Young Poet Laureate for London 2015/16 Selina Nwulu, responds to a question posed by 20 Stories High Young Company. Selina Nwulu is a writer, poet and performer. Her work is an exploration of both the personal and political which she weaves with themes of identity, daily observation, nostalgia, and belonging. @SelinaNwulu

6. Northern Powerhouse – Manchester
Manchester based Festival and Innovation Lab, FutureEverything present a showcase of recent projects and festivals from Europe to Asia. Featured projects include FutureEverything 2016, FutureEverything Singapore and Project Ukko. @FutureEverything

7. Way-finder Hut
Information and directions can be found here.

8. Carnival of Enterprise Hut
Over four weekends, Liverpool’s Suitcase Ensemble will present an array of musical and comedic presentations. Explore conflict resolution with Punch and Judy; Recoil in horror at the Sideshow of Failures; Witness feats of innovation from musical Pirates, renowned Victorians and hard-working Europeans. @SuitcaseEnsembl

9. Way-finder Hut
Information and directions can be found here.

10. The Non-Prejudiced Human Hut
Liverpool Pride, partnering with Armistead, Gay Youth R Out (GYRO), Homotopia and the Michael Causer Foundation, have created a fun and informative space, showcasing the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Trans community in the Liverpool City Region. From art and activism – to health and wellbeing, local LGBT organisations are helping to raise the region’s profile as a vibrant and inclusive place to live, work and do business. @LiverpoolPride

11. Northern Powerhouse – Newcastle
NewBridge Project is an artist-led community comprising of over 80 artist studios, an exhibition space and book shop based in a 29,000 sq ft former office block in Newcastle city centre. Five Jobs+, a new project conceived by Aaron Guy and Andrew Maughan, will condense the lifecycle of business, redevelopment and regeneration into three weeks. The structure of the hut itself will be transformed each weekend to present a new set of questions for debate around the future of work and the regeneration of communities. @N_B_Project

12. The Bido Lito! Dockside Beach Party
Bido Lito! – The Liverpool Music Magazine – are getting into the spirit of summer, curating a month-long pop-up musical beach hut on the Liverpool Strand. Each weekend will see one of the Liverpool music scene’s most exciting new groups present two days of music, sound installation and experimentations, a mix of their own existing work, collaborations, improvisations and audio-provocations. @BidoLito

13. Business – Offshore Tax Avoidance + Fat Cats x Investment Bankers?
Liverpool-based artist Kev Grey responds to a question set by Wayne Hemingway, MBE Designer and co-founder of HemingwayDesign. The design is based on the idea of working out the complicated mathematical equations of good and bad business. Both the interior and exterior of the hut consist of individual negative and positive business related words. Kev Grey has made distinct, bold, black and white artworks using pen, paper and spray paint since the late 1990’s. @kev_grey

14. Northern Powerhouse – Hull
Now Ten, It’s Never Dull in Hull, the UK City of Culture 2017 and artists and curators Kerry Baldry and Mark Wigan have invited you to have a skeg! At their Pop Up Museum of Club Culture. The museum was founded by the artists in Hull in 2010 to chronicle and celebrate local, nation and international club culture and associated subcultures, fashion and music genres from the 1920’s to the present day. @museumofclubs @markwigan @kerrybaldry

15. How can we make all work meaningful work?
Interested in connecting people through making, Tom Tobia and Scott Stannard have invited you to see the fruits of your manual labour! This non-strenuous participatory installation is a creative response to a question posed by Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of The Royal Society of Arts. @TomTobia @swstannard

16. Metal Info Hut
The Metal information hut is a central point to find out more information about IFB2016 commissions, and the artists and organisations that populate the Beach Huts. @MetalLiverpool

17. Northern Powerhouse – Leeds
The City Talking along with Leeds BID and Visit Leeds celebrate the creative scene of the city. The hut is decorated with a unique design by Nicholas Dixon. The City Talking is a free monthly newspaper published in Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and London with a focus on local stories. @thecitytalking @NicholasDixonArt

18. The Northern Flowerhouse – How can our homes and Cities help us deal with climate change?
Arising from the energy of the Tale of Two Cities, Kew Garden’s Grow Wild England Flagship, The Northern Flowerhouse celebrates and encourages the creation of new natural Landmarks through an ecological programme of colour and creativity. Landlife has been creating new places for nature and putting people at the heart of this process for over 40 years, and are responding to a question by Professor Rachel Armstrong, and the world of Robert MacFarlane. @wildflowerNWC

19. Cinema Hut
The Cinema Hut features archive footage of the Liverpool Waterfront from the North West Film Archive (NWFA) at Manchester Metropolitan University. The NWFA preserves and provides access to thousands of historic films and videos from across the North West of England.

20. Way-finder Hut
Information and directions can be found here.