Wednesday, 25 November 2015


Bell , cast bronze, timber structure.  Photograph (c) Stephen Haywood
A voyage through sight, sound and sea at

One and All is an exhibition found in a series of rooms and corridors in Somerset House, just by Waterloo Bridge.  The title comes from a poem of that name by John Betjeman who in 1965 was writing about the many threats to our coastline. Much earlier, in 1895, the National Trust secured a small piece of land, Dinas Oleu, on the Welsh coast, for the enjoyment of the public. This exhibition  celebrates 50 years of the National Trust's dedicated care of our coast line. 

Tanya Kovaks' tidal bell was cast at Porthcurno beach in Cornwall, near Land's End, where the tide starts its journey around the coast.    She has created a digital drawing that tracks high tide in real time as it moves across the coasts of Britain, arriving at Land's End, splitting north and south, and meeting again in the mouth of the Thames.The bell will be rung at high tide on the river Thames throughout the exhibition.  Online you can access her work, accelerate or pause the tide, discover harbours and headlands, while hearing waves slowed down to 'tide time'.

What does the sea say? by Martyn Ware  (c) Maija Handover
The multi-talented Martyn Ware is a sound artist with vivid childhood memories of outings to the seaside as well as his native Sheffield. You can see this beach hut on the River Terrace at Somerset House, resting after its travels round the country to various coastal resorts, each with strong links to Britain's industrial past. There  the artist, together with the award-winning filmmaker Benjamin Wigley, captured stories from the public which are woven into an online digital journey through poetry, sound, film and tide. Online you can make your own mix of Martyn's soundscape and Benjamin's films.

Owen Sheers' poem On the Sea's Land (ar-for-dir) grew out of two weeks' walking and researching the Gower coastline, seeking "to explore and excavate the internal  and external geography of this ancient, yet ever renewing landscape". Drawing on local history, anecdote and dialect, his poem starts by presenting the visitor with the inevitable question - sea on the left or the right? Whatever the choice the poem can be experienced online in both directions. Here is an extract from the Prologue;
...don't let a fog-forgotten shore,
or storms drawn to water
stop you from stepping out
and taking that path to the edge.

Within two fields crossing 
the light can lift and anchor the land again,
and you, gifted a place in it -
alone on these deckle-edged cliffs
their stone prows emerging from the mist
like armies from a forest....  

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