Bathing Beauties: brilliant beach huts at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre

By Jenni Davidson | 17 April 2013

Exhibition preview: Bathing Beauties, Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Aberystwyth, until May 4 2013

A photo of a woman in a yellow swimsuit next to a red spiral beach hut
Lionel T Dean, Wizard of Oz© Aberystwyth Arts Centre
Beach huts are “as quintessentially British as fish and chips and the knotted hanky", says Michael Trainer.

But in reality, according to the artist and curator, they are "usually little more than a painted shed,” despite being “one of the few building forms which has been seriously overlooked by contemporary architects the world over.”

The lead artist and curator of this show, on tour from the National Centre for Craft and Design, has been working to change all that through a design competition and exhibition.

A photo of a miniature sandcastle beach hut
Robin Jackson, BH3© Aberystwyth Arts Centre
Showcasing more than 100 miniature models for innovative beach huts straying far from the traditional shed by the sea, some are humorous takes on seaside stereotypes such as sandcastles and clamshells, while others opt for contemporary minimalist design and innovative materials.

The exhibition evolved from a competition to re-imagine the beach hut, which drew entries from 250 architects, artists and designers worldwide.

The prize was a commission to build the winning designs on the Lincolnshire coast.

Among the examples on show are The Wizard of Oz, a spiralling "twister" of a hut which plays on the idea of it being boarded up out of season; Jabba, a cave of laminate wood and glass; and Lazy Susan, which is inspired by American Airstream caravans and rotates to follow the sun.

Several of the Bathing Beauties huts have now been built full scale along a stretch of the Lincolnshire coast. They can be hired by the day from East Lindsey District Council.

Bathing Beauties is part of the inaugural Wales Festival of Architecture, a six-week long feast of building-related exhibitions, talks, film showings and workshops run by the Aberystwyth Arts Centre and the Royal Society of Architects in Wales.

  • Open 10am-5pm (8pm Thursday-Saturday, 1pm-5pm Sunday). Admission free. Follow the centre on Twitter @aberystwytharts.

For a full list of Wales Festival of Architecture visit the festival online.

More pictures:

A photo of some models for beach huts
© Aberystwyth Arts Centre
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