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You are in: Suffolk > Places > Places features > Underwater art

Underwater art

You may have been wondering why there are three beach huts at Felixstowe which are heading into the waves. It's not because they've been put in the wrong place - it's an art installation aiming to show the effect of rising sea levels.

Three huts have been fixed into the sand heading in a line down to the sea near the Spa Pavilion at right angles from the normal beach huts. When the tide comes in they get submerged to varying degrees.

The title of the piece is "100:50". Its creators are Purple Snail which is a collective of East Anglian artists. At nighttime, the huts are illuminated from within by electric lights which float up and down with the tide. The one furthest down the sand represents what the top hut will look like in 100 years' time given the current rate of sea level rise.

Felixstowe beach

Jan Candy from the group explained what they're trying to achieve: "It's not only rising sea-levels, it's the social impact that it has on us.

"It's something we all take for granted, but when you see the impact of rising sea-levels it actually has a personal loss for people who live by the seaside."

Five artists including Jan, Carol Pask, Catherine Howard-Dobson, Richard Grimsdale and Suzanne Franks were involved. It took nine months for the project to move from conception to completion.

The artwork cost around 60,000 including donations and sponsorship from BT.

But is it art? etc.

The reaction to the installation has been mixed, with views ranging from bafflement to a feeling that they make good wind-breaks to appreciation.

Jan Candy said it's also aiming to make us think about the effect each of us can have on climate change: "It's also about personal responsibility and changing our patterns of consumption.

"Even if you say 'I'll just take one less plastic bag a week or one less car journey', who's to say we can't stop these sea levels rising in 100 years?"

Some people are saying it would make sense to leave them to the sea, until they're destroyed by the waves or storms. However, the beach huts will be removed before that happens because Purple Snail can't risk them floating out. A new home will then be found for them.

Jan said there's an artistic reason for this: "We might get them put back in in the spring time. If you see the bottom one in the sea with its little roof glowing at night then you were lucky.

"That's exactly the message - we could lose things. One minute you see it, the next you don't."

Visit the Purple Snail website for more photographs, a video and information about a DVD covering the installation.

As part of the BBC's Made in England project for St George's Day 2009, Purple Snail are erecting one of their beach huts outside the BBC on St Matthew's Street in Ipswich. What will happen to it? Who knows? ...

last updated: 23/04/2009 at 12:07
created: 03/09/2008

Have Your Say

A serious artwork or a load of old nonsense?

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Its because we live in an image obsessed age that we need a quirky demostration like this to drive the message home about rising sea levels and coastal erosen..if it causes discussion its achieved its message through art. CALLEN [The Voice]
CALLEN [The Voice]

Absolute rubbish, not good for the town, people or visitors. Again global warm clap trap.
Paul Day

You are in: Suffolk > Places > Places features > Underwater art

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