I crossed the Tamar from Cornwall on the Saltash ferry, to be greeted by the sign “Welcome to Plymouth, Britain’s Ocean City”. I went off in search of the Ocean. But the Google Earth image of the Barbican did not show the fences, prohibitive signage, building sites, gated communities, MOD restrictions.
The Ocean fenced, I began to look at the places described by Mabey (2012) where the tidy compartmentalisation between nature and culture breaks down, the fenced boundaries between land and sea.
In the heat of an extreme July sun, I wandered places 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, residential housing schemes and Ministry of Defence restrictions. The project became about weeds, the plants that colonise and give form to the places that we consider off limits.