Storyweir, (c) Proboscis 2012.

Exeter geographers collaborate with artists on the Jurassic Coast

University of Exeter geographers have helped shape a series of new artworks and special free events for visitors to Hive Beach, Dorset, to enjoy this summer.

Artists Proboscis (Alice Angus, Giles Lane, Gary Stewart and Stefan Kueppers) are presenting their new work, Storyweir, on Hive Beach until 9 September.

ExLab (Exploratory Laboratory) is an arts programme on the Jurassic Coast, where University of Exeter geographers have collaborated with artists to reveal hidden landscapes through the lenses of art, geology and technology, culminating in a new piece -  Storyweir. The team, from the University of Exeter’s Geographies of Creativity and Knowledge, has brought research expertise to the project as well as considerable experience of working with artists.

Displayed on Fisherman’s Green next to the beach, Storyweir is a kind of sundial incorporating silhouettes of things remembered and imagined and stories told that are or might one day become the folklore or fossils that explain the ancient history of the site.

Exeter Geographers Dr John Wylie, Dr Nicola Thomas, Rose Ferraby and Dr Ian Cook have fed their ideas and expertise into its development. They provided ideas and knowledge about time, being and the self in landscape geographies, traces of the local history and memories of craft making and maritime industry, archaeological ideas about landscape and how abstract idea can be communicated visually, and hidden histories of trade along the English channel. The team has also spent time creating drawings, audio, video, data and other media for the project.

University of Exeter geographer Dr Ian Cook said: “My colleagues and I have thoroughly enjoyed working with this fantastic group of artists and are proud to have helped create a series of artworks and events that will be enjoyed by local people and tourists. Our research team is committed to forging links with artists, community groups and a whole host of others, to ensure our research has a real impact on people’s lives. This project is a great example of how academics and artists can work together to create something amazing.”

Proboscis and artists Simon Callery, Mat Chivers, Zachary Eastwood-Bloom and Simon Ryder were selected from over 200 submissions to work with scientists to reveal new narratives about the places, the people and the landscape. Each artist has worked in a designated geographic area and responded to the unique geological characteristics found there.

The artists have collected stories from geologists, fossil hunters, sea swimmers, dog walkers and local residents, as well as visitors to the beach. The resulting events, structures, objects and audio-visual works at the beach and in the nearby town, Burton Bradstock echo the impact of the geology on the human experience of the place.

The project is inspired by traditional methods of fishing, including seine netting which is used to catch mackerel at Hive Beach. It is also inspired by the idea of netting for stories from across time - short human time and deep geological time.

‘Storyweir’ is being delivered in partnership with the National Trust, whose staff and volunteers have not only supported the research but also contributed to the content. In the National Trust Hut, visitors can find visual mapping of stories together with a sound work of many of the tales told to Proboscis by geologists, other scientists and local people.

Hive Beach Café is hosting other artworks by Proboscis, including the hanging sails whose designs reflect on human time, and on some of the ways we seek to understand and live with the ancient geology of Hive Beach.

ExLab is a Big Picture project, managed by Bridport Arts Centre and PVA Media Lab / Lab Culture. See here for full details of the project including field trips and associated events.

Special audio-visual events with live cello music will take place at sunset (around 9pm) on Friday 3 and Saturday 4 August. Visitors can also meet the artists to hear about the project on Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 August at 3pm. 

Date: 3 August 2012