This week the doors opened on DIS/rupt at the Museum in the Park and the Landsdown Gallery in Stroud. Footbridge banners and other SIT select 2017 publicity all round the town. The Symposium featuring Alice Kettle, Melanie Miller, June Hill and Michelle Stephens and official opening by June Hill takes place this weekend and we hope this next interview will be of enormous interest now that you have the chance to actually see the work. Jan Miller produces work inspired by the landscape around her home so I was interested to learn what she has been investigating for DIS/rupt.
In 2008, I parked near the lifeboat hut on the cliffs at Happisburgh, followed the signs ‘To the Beach’, on to a scaffolding tower enclosing steps which indeed led down the cliff face to the beach. Looking right and left, was a glorious chaos of rusty poles extending along the beach and into the sea – the remains of the most recent sea defences. In 2016 I revisited this dramatic sight/site again: no lifeboat hut, no view of the coast, no rusty poles, no houses as landmarks. Only the Happisburgh Lighthouse identified that this was the same place, just different. And with replacement sea defences.
Along with familiar walks and beachcombing along this stretch of sea/land, I have accessed photographic evidence in newspaper archives which record the impact of tides, surges and flooding. This is not limited to the receeding cliff face but extends to properties on Beach Road. Both road and houses are now in the process of disappearing.
Scientific research would address the causes and recommend priorities and solutions. I simply observe the recent and present visual changes to this landscape and to the sea defences that in themselves have become a dramatic indicator of coastal erosion.
What are the materials and processes that you are working with?
“Tide marks : Land lines” is made of the place: found objects; reclaimed domestic cotton and linen cloth, folded, crumbled, rolled or bound and stained with local earth, metal and vegetation. Four handstitched panels overlap to make a loose ‘whole’ on the gallery wall.
Are you able to give us an idea of the scale of your piece?
“Tide Marks : Land lines” is my height and finger-tip to finger-tip width.
Is the finished piece to be free standing or wall mounted?
Wall hung, underscored with a mantlepiece on the gallery floor.
What message do you hope the viewers of your work will take away from the exhibition?
The impact of high tides and storm surges on coastal erosion requires national policy, local management and, of course, extensive and continuous funding, to repair present damage and limit future disruption. Sea defences installed as protection, eventually themselves become damaged, the remnants removed and replaced with new structures. There is no permanent solution: maintenance and vigilance are always present. Villages and surrounding agricultural land may suffer irreparable damage and the landscape will change irrevocably. I hope that the reclaimed mantlepiece, which once held a family’s display of domestic ephemera, underlines the impact on humans wrought by environmental change. In Happisburgh, residents may have relocated to the land side of the village, perhaps with their backs to the sea.
Thank you very much Jan, beautiful photographs and such an interesting topic. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing your work and of course all the other pieces. This exhibition has been over two years in the planning and now that it is open it is very exciting. More information about the ideas behind the exhibition can be found here TSG
There is also a full programme of workshops running during the exhibition and booking details can be found here SIT select 2017
The Symposium is ticketed but information about availability can be found here Symposium
Next stop Stroud!