Coastival’s glorious arts kaleidoscope notches up a decade

Coastival burst into double figures with a glorious flourish at the weekend.

Scarborough’s 10th annual arts kaleidoscope began in 2009 and missed last year due to funding problems.

The 2019 event had a new director, Kate Beard, but had been programmed to a large extent by her predecessor Wendy Holroyd, who conceived and launched Coastival.

It’s a giant arty pick-and-mix, with all kinds of things happening in many places, although it is centred on the Spa.

At St Martin’s Church on the South Cliff, Angela Chalmers channelled the spirit of Victorian benefactor Mary Craven, who paid for the church and lived at Angela’s Esplanade house. Spiritual Gardening, in the church’s Lady chapel, depicted a small figure at prayer, her dress cyanotyped with a beautiful blue floral pattern.

Equally atmospheric was Viv Mousdell’s updated version of the plastic-pollution installation which blew a few minds at the first Coastival. That was in the church; this was in the crypt. In Turn the Tide, B&W film of the sea was back-projected onto ripped polythene and half-popped bubblewrap to a soundtrack of whistling wind, like an asthmatic giant wheezing over the waves.

The Old Parcels Office hosted artwork by several artists including Camille Smith, whose Carnival Collective vividly evoked her experiences of panic and anxiety via three colourful figures. The enormous space featured a few hours of music by choirs on the Sunday.

In the town centre, shoppers were stopped in their tracks by Avanti Display performing Full Circle, a comic piece of street theatre involving dozens of steel buckets.

Coastival regulars Animated Objects Theatre commandeered Aquarium Top roundabout, sealing the corridors to create dark and spooky performance spaces for The Judgment.

Beach Hut Theatre performed Love, When it’s Brass, a light-hearted look at love, money and weddings, at the Stephen Joseph Theatre and The Wild Zone, an interactive piece in which scientists save the planet, in a black gazebo in the Spa’s top room.

Lots of deckchair-shaped screens were suspended over the Spa Theatre stage for the high-tech Yorkshire Electric. Old film of Scarborough was shown on the small screens and on a big one at the back, to an upbeat soundtrack by Hope & Social. It was an ingenious collaboration between award-winning theatre and projection company Imitating the Dog and architectural lighting specialist Phil Supple. The same film was one of several shown in an adjacent room by Yorkshire Film Archive.

Children had plenty to do in the Spa Grand Hall, where a family hub featured arts and crafts including 2D and 3D artwork, flip-book animation and glitch art – manipulating digital images.

In bright sunshine, the Turas Theatre Collective performed Remnants, a powerful, wordless piece about displacement. That was in the Spa Suncourt, where two Reliant Robins with stained glass windows occupied the stage.

Coastival wouldn’t be Coastival without massive dollops of splendid music, covering a wide spectrum of tastes. The Spa bar, Farrers, hosted Stony, the Hard Times Orchestra, the Mile Roses and Yemi Bolatiwa on Friday; Social Oven, Funky Choir and Dennis Rollins on Saturday; and Restless, Sub-Gents and Page 45 on Sunday.

The Sound of Scarborough, featuring some of the best local bands, was on Friday in the Spa Ocean Room, where DJ and VJ collective Stone Penguin presented Time Machine, a mix of live and DJ music, on Saturday night. The live acts were Barry Gammon and the Midday Incident, Me & My Friends and Smoove & Turrell.

Coastival is produced by Create Arts Development and supported by Arts Council England along with the Foyle Foundation, Coventry Uni, the Spa, Yorkshire Film Archive and Scarborough Council.