Behind the Scenes – Beside the Seaside

The sun is shining, we’ve completed our gardening and now our thoughts turn to summer holidays.

Our summer holidays may be a bit different this year, we may stay at home or holiday in the UK when we may usually venture abroad. Whatever we chose to do, we can still have lots of fun. Put your sun cream on and let’s sit and take a look back behind-the-scenes of another of our popular summer shows – Beside the Seaside…

Do you know the song that the title of the exhibition was taken from?

Oh! I do like to be beside the seaside, I do like to be beside the sea! I do like to stroll upon the Prom, Prom, Prom! Where the brass bands play: “Tiddely-om-pom-pom!”

Our aim for the exhibition was to take a look at the simple pleasures of a British seaside holiday – sand, sea, Punch and Judy, sitting in deckchairs and eating ice-creams on the promenade.

Now my first thought was to have a huge sandpit in the middle of the gallery, flanked by the large columns, made to look like sandcastle turrets, but for practical reasons this wasn’t really possible, but I did manage to introduce some sand in to the exhibition for visitors to play with, which I will tell you about later.

We took the colour scheme for the exhibition from the vibrant colours of beach huts, beach balls and windbreaks, sand and sea. The main colours of the walls and case interiors as a bright yellow and a wavy shoreline painted in blue and white and the poplar song ‘oh I do like to be beside the seaside’ danced around the top of the walls.

We had four themes to explore – beachwear, nature, entertainment and souvenirs, so we used a screen and case combination to divide the areas up and painted the screens to match the stripes you would find on windbreaks. We needed larger cases to house the beachwear, so transformed the front of some of our large cases into a row of beach huts.

No trip to the seaside would be complete without playing in the sand, as I mentioned earlier, plans had to be scaled back, but I still managed to create a bespoke area for paying in the sand complete with a wavy ‘sea’ edge…

Alongside the nature section which was about all of the wildlife you could discover on the seashore and all of the wonderful creatures to find in rockpools, we had seagull sounds, and plastic seagulls suspended, waiting to swoop down and pinch the plastic play ice-creams…

Although the main attractions of a seaside holiday were the beach and sea, on the promenade or pier children enjoyed watching Punch and Judy shows.  We recreated an area in the gallery where visitors could put on their own Punch and Judy show, compete with little deckchairs for their audience to sit in.

Perhaps you can put on your own show for your family or friends.

No trip to the seaside would be complete without purchasing a souvenir or writing a postcard to send back home. Visitors could colour in a postcard as a souvenir of their visit and take it home or post it to a friend.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a look back behind the scenes of the ‘Beside the Seaside’ exhibition – you can see more in our Beside the Seaside image gallery, part of our Past Exhibitions section. I’ll leave you with a popular summer tongue twister from the exhibition – see how quickly you can say it…

She sells seashells on the seashore.
The shells that she sells are seashells for sure!

Helen Cann,
Design Services Officer, The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery

Written by Helen Cann (Design Services Officer) - Modified by Glenn Roadley (Curator, Natural Sciences)

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