I crossed the Tamar from Cornwall on the Saltash ferry, to be greeted by the sign “Welcome to Plymouth, Britain’s Ocean City”; 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. My focus shifted. It became a journey in search of the foreshore that was blocked by boundaries of all descriptions: prohibitive signage, building sites, gated residential housing schemes, and Ministry of Defence restrictions. It also 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, where the tidy compartmentalisation between nature and culture breaks down; exploring the boundaries between land and sea, where 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 delineated by humankind.
This work was produced from a residency in the docklands of Plymouth, KARST, 2014 (with Plymouth Arts Centre and Back Lane West, Redruth), and later shown at Newlyn Art Gallery.
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