And so the search begins…
As part of a major print exhibition at the Devon Guild, I was commissioned to make a piece of work in response to the SW Coast Path. For Outline South West artist Anita Reynolds spent three years walking the 630 mile South West Coast Path that runs from Minehead to Poole.
The Riverside Gallery at the Devon Guild showed the artwork produced from the first 280 miles in 2013; prints produced each day of the remaining 350 miles of the project were shown in 2014 along with a number of commissioned works by three artists (myself as sound artist, ceramicist Philippa De Burlet and textile artist Carol Timms).
My response was a series of sound boxes reflecting three different parts of the coast path, and a direct response of working with Anita on the project and a day we spent at the Undercliff on the Devon/Dorset border. You can read the blog from the project here.
Each of the three boxes explore not just a different place, but a different aspect of life on the coast path.
Box 1: Regatta
I turn my attention away for a moment, watching some gulls as they scrap over imagined slights, and looking up again see the horizon explode into colour. With the inaudible cue of the starter’s gun, sails have gone up and the clumps of masts which seem to stretch across the entire Bay begin to separate into their different classes and races. Later I watch one group turn down-wind, their spinnakers suddenly filling the horizon with a sea of gaudy colour. Spinnakers are vast and made of a much lighter material than traditional sail. Presumably once made of silk most are now made of nylon and boast outrageous designs so very far from the innate conservatism of the mainsails.
Box 2: Connected
August denies the falling of the year, but cannot resist it entirely. Already along the path trees and their leaves are showing signs of fatigue and old age. Colours deepen and become enriched by the months of light, warmth, and growth yet spring green seems to sprout everywhere even as the backbone, the mother plants, head towards ultimate decline and death (however temporary). The path feels wild and timeless even though it is in fact a highly maintained byway: without regular cutting back and clearance this connection would soon close. In summer, it almost does.
Box 3: Seafall
This was not a gentle fall: field and trees and animals all fell at once, landing so flat against the ground that it is as though this land has always been here. There is little evidence of the violence that created this place: trees, including many that demonstrably survived the fall reach out and create a dense canopy, as if to deny the usurpers trying to compete with them any hope of light or sustenance. Today, the path is narrow, root-bound, dry and caked.
Then in the cataclysm of the winter of 2013 it all happened again, albeit on not quite such a geological scale. A large landslip, like so many others along this fragile and bruised coastline, turned this walk into a one-way path forcing walkers to turn around some time before reaching the end. This fall, too, must have lacked discretion and gentility, a violent reminder of the price we pay for despoiling the earth.