Last year’s winners of the Bath Spa University’s Porthleven Prize used poetry, sound, film, and sculpture to create ‘A Fleeting Voyage’, which was exhibited at O3 gallery in Oxford and completed its journey in Sion Hill.
Photographs are the courtesy of artists
Poppy Clover, Simon Hunt, Roxanne Jackson, Pip Marshall and Andrea Wright were the winners of the annual Porthleven Prize last year, and they used poetry, sound, film, and sculpture to create ‘A Fleeting Voyage’, which was exhibited at O3 gallery in Oxford and completed its journey in Sion Hill.
You will know its me by Roxanne Jackson is a series of nine individual pieces that evokes the naive and ephemeral memories of summers in fishing villages, sand castles, and ice cream colour beach huts blended with the unpredictable English weather, pouring in drops of grey like a veil, releasing a whiff of sea salt.
Jackson noted, ‘‘You’ll know its me’, is the result of research into the hand knitting industry in Cornwall that fishing families depended upon to supplement their incomes. This continued until the middle of the last century and the arrival of the domestic knitting machine. Each fishing port had its own pattern knitted into the heavy woollen garments that identified a fisherman’s home location – a practical function if a drowned fisherman washed up with the tide.’
Soaked in a saturated solution of Cornish salt, each knitted piece is left to grow salt crystals throughout the fabric and encased in frames, like little precious souvenirs of a time long gone by, playing, rather romantically, with the dichotomy of a gentle tactility versus the power of erosion and crystallisation.
Also by Jackson, Porhtleven Wave is a digital installation projected conveniently onto the floor, right under the feet of the viewer, creating a spiritual sanctuary. The motion of the breaking waves is slowed down to accentuate the experience, inviting the viewer to inner reflection and meditation.
In a similar vein, Andrea Wright’s Trace (Ghost Boat) is playing with the friction between entropy and preservation. Cast of a small boat made by using liquid latex, the piece ‘traces’ the veins of the discarded boat, creating a parchment-like look and paradoxically an almost organic and supple texture, complete with a sombre, otherworldly presence.
Wright said, ‘The idea was to ‘lift’ a trace like skin from the hull in order to preserve some of the patina encrusted to
surface. This boat had been used for decades in the harbour traversing the ‘liminal’ waters, ferrying fisherman to their crafts. Light penetrates the surface and embeds the object with a fragile translucence.’
Another highlight of the exhibition was Pip Marshall’s This Animated Moment’s Ocean, which stood out from the others in its medium and execution.
Here time and space ceases to exist, the roaring waters are catalysed into a luminescent blue geode of frozen motion, the warm white chaise lounge turned clinical, reminiscent of a hospital bed and the bright natural light of the seaside is replaced by neon lights hanging from industrial chains.
Hyperreal in its raw sharpness, but defying any causality or linearity of perception whatsoever to a level of abstraction, it takes the nautical charm and romanticism into a digital limbo, into some sort of low-tech interface, where what could have been a ship’s hull meets with the stark juxtaposition of antique ruins of the classical tradition that an English romantic could stumble upon in awe. It is as if a moment in time is chased into a past point and everything between ‘now’ and
‘then’ is collated into one dimension. The artist is dissecting a slice from this plane to reveal an aftermath of cataclysm, an exile.
About the Porthleven Prize
Bath Spa University’s Porthleven Prize offers students an opportunity to collaborate across disciplines, from art to music, writing, performance and film. The students are called to submit applications earlier in the year for a chance to be awarded a ten day full-time residency at the university’s studio in Cornwall in May. Situated in an area inspiringly surrounded by a freshwater lake, the ocean and the sand dunes, Old Lifeboat House Studio in Porthleven serves as a stimulant for aspiring artists, in their challenge to explore, discover, and create in collaboration across creative practices.