Lizard Beacons Residency

As a response to participating in this residency, with the opportunity of staying next to the Lizard Point Lighthouse and experiencing the impact of the sea, I have created two installations. One has a historical connection to the area and the other provides a contemporary viewpoint of living and working at the coastline. The works combine artefacts from the area, video and sound recordings and mixed media works to create two areas for contemplation.

Father, Son & Sea

The sea is often a subject for sentimentalism with thoughts about living, working or being by the sea to cleanse our souls. But there’s a harsh reality of working with the sea, facing the growing pressures of tourism, environmental change, competition over fishing rights and even finding a balance of harmony in sharing your catch with marine life. This installation provides a snapshot into the lives of one fishing and commercial family, the Hills, from Lizard Point. Known as the Fishermen from Polpeor, Gary and his father David, have fished from the cove just like generations before them. When not fishing the family mine the Serpentine stone to make gifts for the tourists such as replicas of the iconic lighthouses of the region. Getting out on the boat provides a break from dealing with the vast tourist trade, a moment for reflection and re-connection with the sea which is in their blood.

 Shot in a day this voyeuristic view captures an outsider watching and experiencing a brief insight into the lives of one family on the Cornish coastline.

 With thanks to the Hill family, Polpeor Cove and the Serpentine Works Gift Shop, Lizard Point.

Gary and David Hill, Polpeor Cove, Lizard Point.

Gary and David Hill, Polpeor Cove, Lizard Point.

Bodies from the SS Mohegan, Gibson & Sons, 1898

Bodies from the SS Mohegan, Gibson & Sons, 1898

…the wrong course

The rocks of the Cornish coastline have claimed many boats and ships over the centuries. One of the most notable shipwrecks is that of the SS. Mohegan, coined the Cornish Titanic, which struck the Manacles, near Porthoustock, on the 14th October, 1898. Bound for America the Steamer set off from Tilbury but stuck to a chartered course which drove it a mile from the coastline. Despite warning rockets and boats in the area attempting to warn the Mohegan it struck Vase rock and sunk in under 20 minutes, with 106 lives perished. The recovered bodies were taken to St.Keverne Church where the majority were buried in a mass grave. Today a solitary cross marks the place of rest. There was little evidence as to why the Steamer had been driven unto the rocks. A court ruling concluded this was simply ‘…the wrong course.’

The horror of these events may be a distant memory but the flattened remains of the Streamer survives as a notable dive site for underwater explorers and has been reclaimed by the sea as a host to dead men’s fingers, corals and anemones.

In remembrance of all who perished with the SS. Mohegan and of my colleague, Neil Warrior, Air France crash victim, lost in the Atlantic Ocean.