Welcome to the Ocean City
I crossed the Tamar from Cornwall on the Saltash ferry, to be greeted by the sign “Welcome to Plymouth, Britain’s Ocean City”. My plan was to head for the water's edge.
However, accessing the foreshore was not going to be as straightforward as I had imagined. The Google Earth image of the area did not show fences. Everywhere I went was blocked: prohibitive signage, building sites, gated residential housing schemes and Ministry of Defence restrictions.
My focus shifted. It became about weeds, the plants that colonise and give form to the places that we consider off limits. I began to look at the places of which Richard Mabey (2012) wrote, in which the tidy compartmentalisation between nature and culture breaks down. There, despite the efforts of a range of agencies and owners of the foreshore, weeds could be said to bring a welcome untidiness to the cityscape; an untidiness that refuses to have its path way-marked and its boundary owned, delineated and enforced.
This work was produced as a result of a residency set in the docklands of Plymouth, at KARST, 2014 (with Plymouth Arts Centre and Back Lane West, Redruth).