Port Elliot 2017

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This years Port Elliot festival was a wet one, after a few years of glorious weather at the festival it was bound to happen one year. A highlight is to watch folk swimming in the river and getting muddy, but this year it was hard to see the difference between the banks of the river at low tide and the state of the paths and grounds in general.

Unable to see the larger picture because of a mizzly haze made me pay attention to the smaller details and escaping the rain you could be surprised at the impromptu talk you might have happened upon. Marked up timetables went out of the window as performers cancelled or went up late and venues plus times got changed. This sounds far worse than it was in actuality, I felt far more connected to the talks and interviews this year than sometimes in the past when, to catch the sun you would sit somewhat further away lapping up the rays.

A favourite hour was spent listening to half a dozen folk [comprising of a poet, writer, businessman/gardener, actor, & conservationists] discussing the US poet W S Merwin and his garden on the Hawaiian island of Maui. Merwin believes that mans separation from nature is, and will be, disastrous for the world; he made his garden in an old pineapple plantation and in doing so has restored the land to its original rainforest, which has one of the most extensive palm collections known to exist on earth.

It is now on my list of must see places. https://merwinconservancy.org/open-garden-days/

And then on the final day the sun returned reminding us what a special weekend it can be when the weather shines. This is certainly a place where we get a glimpse of nature, here’s hoping the grass will return… as will we.

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Landscape Theatre

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Normally at the beginning of the summer holidays I am heading to the Lost Gardens of Heligan for Kneehigh’s Asylum which I mentioned previously here and here. This year is a barren year for the Asylum but although that sounds harsh I think it’s to allow the field to re coop. So, we headed off to see Cornish based Wildworks’ production Wolf’s Child [originally commissioned for the Norfolk and Norwich Festival] that has now returned to the company’s home county. The performance is landscape theatre, which isn’t normally specific to the site but a performance placed within an outdoor space and yet, they have found the most perfect landscape in the Trelowarren Estate. that it almost feels site specific. A lawned amphitheatre, a wild meadow with lines of washing and the woods themselves, which almost become a character in themselves. The audience, get taken through the grounds to watch the performance; sometimes we chance upon a happening in a glade and sometimes we are asked to sit on the makeshift log seats. As the evening draws in and as we get taken further into the woods there are torches and flames to light our way. It is a mythical, magical story, a grown up fairytale which fits Trelowarren like a glove. I am not a theatre critic and will not write about the content but I think its one of the nicest ways to spend a summer’s evening, whether you are on your holiday or not. You will need good stout footwear and some insect repellent and be prepared for all kinds of weather, I mean come on, its the UK and the school holidays, it’s bound to rain!

Unfortunately we were told not to take any photographs so I can’t illustrate the magical quality, but here’s one from the postcard that was handed out, image by Steve Tanner/Wildworks.

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At Trelowarren Estate from 11th to 30th July 2017.

Daily (except Mondays) at 7.30pm, 7pm on Sundays.

Matinees on Sat 15th, Sat 22nd and Sat 29th at 2pm.

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cabin envy artist studio

This artist’s studio in Norfolk was designed by Threefold Architects and the north facing back looks out onto the changing wheat field [no P.M jokes]. I really like the cabin’s carbon neutral status with sheep’s wool insulation, rain water harvesting and ethically sourced building materials. The row of windows are placed so that once inside you can see the changing scene between the horizon and the sky with the emphasis on the latter.

All photos from http://www.threefoldarchitects.com/projects/the-long-studio/

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microfibres & plastic

 

Occasionally I mention on here the increasingly high levels of pollution in our seas and share online forums and campaigns which we may [or may not] believe help. Everyone can help in their own little way especially when visiting the beach and taking home their rubbish. Yet there are all sorts of ways plastic can enter the waters. If you have a fleece jacket for example and wash it, are you amazed how its almost dry when its gone through the wash? But did you know what it leaves behind in the waste water that eventually gets back into our seas? Tiny little microfibres, plastic microfibres that do not biodegrade and are so small they get through the sewage system undetected.                 And this is just one example of micro plastic.

Read more about microfibres here…

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/feb/12/seafood-microfiber-pollution-patagonia-guppy-friend

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jun/20/microfibers-plastic-pollution-oceans-patagonia-synthetic-clothes-microbeads

Cornish artist Rob Arnold often goes to the beach to collect plastic for art projects but the last time he went he was greeted by so much he had to get help to collect. Luckily he has a homemade separator that sifts the plastic from the sand which he then dries to start sifting again. He cleaned and sifted and dried in the sun  until he had approx 19,600 per litre which equals over 3 million bits of micro plastic. His journey is documented here

This is some of the plastic he sorted [all photos courtesy of Rob Arnold]

 

Above are sets of lego flippers, there are 240 here and they come from a Lego container spill in 1997, there were 418,000 in the container. Twenty years on and they look like new. Top right are a selection of children’s car and truck wheels and bottom right the remains of Remembrance Day poppies.

 

Here are mostly children’s toy soldiers and other playful ephemera along with lots of Smartie tops and here’s the thing, the tops were discontinued in 2005 so these have been hanging around in the ocean for 12 years.

Now we have some household items…the ends of cotton buds, again not biodegradable like the cotton. Top right, the tops of sealant tubes and bottom right, fishing beads that are often eaten by fish as they look like fish eggs. Most household items enter the ocean via drains and rivers.

 

Finally we have golf tees on the left, here is an initiative that produces biodegradable ones and to the right we have that ubiquitous item…the cigarette holder. From the comments under the photo it seems they are popular on the continent!!

This is just a small amount of Rob’s find and the sorry fact is that he found it all at the western end of Whitsand Bay. This though isn’t just about taking your rubbish home so it doesn’t end up in the sea, its also about what’s already in the sea that’s being washed up on beaches all over the world.

Lastly, a great initiative from Plymouth University – an all female crew heading out to test ocean waters for plastic pollution and running awareness events at the same time.

https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/news/all-female-crew-sail-round-britain-to-raise-awareness-of-plastics-in-our-oceans

 

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Hidden Places

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Ponsharden Cemetery Falmouth, photos by Derek Frood

Last year, with my colleague Derek Frood, we made an audio trail within a hidden Jewish cemetery in Plymouth and we thought a handful of curious people would turn up. But…around 120 people arrived each day and those who didn’t have smart phones or their own headphones waited patiently for one of the 15 MP3s to become available.

Knowing there was the potential for further trails and realising there was a thirst for hidden stories in hidden places we decided to research and develop more stories across the south west, partnering with Kehillat Kernow, (the Jewish Council of Cornwall) and the Friends of Ponsharden Cemetery, for the Jewish & Dissenters cemetery in Falmouth.

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In a couple of weeks we will go into a studio with sound technicians, the wonderful people at Stage Technical Services in Exeter and investigate different ways of recording our stories to make the finished trails.

Currently our Plymouth audio trail is uploaded onto an MP3 and each story is a different track meaning  you can be in charge of your own wanderings and move to whatever part of the graveyard you want to go to. Alternatively you can listen on a smartphone via Soundcloud; operating the trail on your own phone makes it easier to navigate for a lot of people.

The idea that people can wander around listening to a soundtrack means that the peace and stillness of the site remains, which is something we feel is important. In Plymouth as people waited they could take in the site and watch people making the tour but at the same time remain oblivious to the audio they were watching them listen to. This had a particular powerful affect on one audience member last year…

“The music and voices really made the people ‘come alive’ the particular reference about the physicality of the Stonehouse police suddenly jolted me into the realisation that I was standing on the remains of that particular body and I found that a very powerful moment. The other thing that impacted on me was noticing the other listeners. They were randomly dotted around the cemetery, solemn statues, heads bent down like they were watching over the dead; every so often they would slowly move to a new grave and take up their positions again. It’s difficult to put into words, but it felt like a strange transposition, the dead being brought to life by the stories while the living had become immobile listening to them”.

“… difficult to put into words”, I reckon they managed to do so very eloquently.

Over the next few months we will be updating our findings on our website here.

Hidden Stories: Hidden Places, Falmouth is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and through Feast Cornwall, a programme that makes great art happen across Cornwall.

If you want to be kept informed of the project, dates we will be sharing work and audios, please email us at rippletheatreco@gmail.com or via the ‘contact’ page on the website and we will add you to our newsletter.

 

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2 FEAST- Print redCC funding cmyk2013 ECC Logo

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Midsummer blues

 

A few days away from midsummers day and we are in a spell of hot hot weather resulting in blue blue skies and long long daylight. Him indoors loves a walk on the beach more than anything so because today is Fathers Day I have put together some photos of Whitsand Bay just as we like it. Have a great day and enjoy the weather!

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RWY festival

I’ve been busy taking trips to Falmouth on work matters so this inaugural Festival in the Royal William Yard passed me by until yesterday, when I was unable to go. A shame because I love the route to the Yard, it takes me right across Cornwall’s forgotten corner.

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From the chalet I would link to the B3247 just right of Crafthole on the map above and head east towards Millbrook, in line with the bay. Then coming out of Millbrook I would bypass the villages of Kingsand and Cawsand and head north, taking me past Maker Heights and onto Mount Edgecombe to quite literally, the end of the road (the brown line on the sandy coloured bit, it takes me 10 minutes). This is Cremyll, here I would park and jump on a small foot ferry that would take me across the river to the other side (the pink bit) where the Royal William Yard is situated. This river separates Devon from Cornwall and there is a toll to pay, oh yes, to enter Devon from Cornwall across the river, be it on foot ferry (from Cremyll), car ferry (from Torpoint) or bridge (from Saltash) there is a charge. But it’s such a delightful way to travel and once on the other side you are happy that you’ve parked across the water and are not having to negotiate the parking that the Royal William Yard creates when there’s an event on.

Mind you had I taken that route on the Sunday I would have driven alongside Mount Edgecombe and noted that there was a Green Man weekend. Everything that goes alongside a spot of mythology and ancient culture like hog roasts and wood carving, music, dancing and beer…I mean whats not to like. If that had happened, I may never of made it across the water and would be better of for not paying my toll.

 

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