Blackpool Illuminations, anniversaries and Discarded Things | A Postcard from Cleveleys

by Northern Life

Jane writes each month about what’s happening in her adopted new home town of Cleveleys on the Lancashire coast. Here’s her latest instalment of news from the seaside…

I don’t know whether it’s me or whether it’s old age, but time sure does seem to fly. How do you describe that autumnal feeling in words? It just is – it feels different from other times of the year – and speaking personally I’ve always loved those few brief weeks of true autumn. In my world it’s late September into October – still warm but low sunshine and the herald of dark nights tucked up in the house after a walk on the beach that makes your cheeks sing!

The height of summer came and went in a whirl. First it was the Blackpool Illuminations season launch with the inimitable Laurence Llewelyn Bowen, who is the Creative Curator of the Lights, and a really nice bloke who also has a mighty passion for Blackpool. Of course the Illuminations are now on and you can find out all the nitty gritty about this year’s display, including more brilliant projection shows on the front of the Tower building (including how to get your own face projected up there), along with details of a new Lightpool Festival at October half term, from our very own website

Then we had two surprise parties – the first one was my friend Pam’s 80th birthday. Pam’s sister is the actress Alison Steadman, and Pam thought that she was in Orkney or somewhere equally remote, filming a programme about seabirds! Our second surprise party was my parents’ golden wedding anniversary. I organised all of our friends into lunch and another afternoon of hilarity at our local. After managing to keep the surprise, my nerves were in tatters by the time that it was over, along with organising the presents that our good and long-suffering friend Dave had helped to hide!

Part of the reason that my nerves were in such a state was that the golden wedding do was the day before the launch of our Rossall Beach art project, Discarded Things, and on past form I was stressing about the weather! I needn’t have worried too much because, although as usual there was a stiff breeze blowing, it was a beautiful day and we had a really wonderful event, complete with a folk singer and 70 portions of hotpot.

You might remember that we’ve been working with arts organisation LeftCoast, and they have supported us throughout this project, where we’ve commissioned artists Invisible Flock to deliver the new installation in response to what we stand for as a group.

The pop-up cabin eventually arrived after breaking down en-route (I told you we have bad luck) to be set up and to be our home for almost two weeks and house an exhibition of what we’ve been up to, along with various workshops and drop-in events, so Saturday 10th was party day with the parents and Sunday 11th was party day mark two, as we celebrated the launch of Discarded Things.

Discarded Things

Seabird artwork

The folk singer sang his sea shanties and the hotpot went down a treat, while people investigated the process and had a look at what we’ve been doing. The centrepiece of the event was our two new beautiful works of art – the seabirds which were on display before flying off to their new perch – where they will hover over the water out on the beach.

It’s been an interesting process. We’ve collected plastic from the beach and bottles from members of the public, and this plastic has been ground down into tiny bits to extrude into new filament and print out with a 3D printer to create the new artwork. It’s quite an innovative thing to do, and although 3D printers are becoming more mainstream, re-using old plastic is the new thing and it’s not that easy or straightforward either.

The launch was a really good event and a celebration of not just this project but everything that we stand for. The following week we hosted the Marine Conservation Society annual national beach clean. It’s amazing to see how much rubbish we pick up and nearly all of it comes to us out of the sea. Only a couple of weeks ago we happened to be in the vets when a woman came in with a seagull tangled in fishing gear which she’s picked up while walking on the beach. It’s heart breaking to see the damage that we do to the wildlife around us.

We’ve learnt a lot from the Discarded Things process, we’ve had a lot of fun and made a lot of new people aware of who we are and what we do, so the next thing that we’ll be doing is looking at ways of building on the legacy of the project for the future and what we can do next.