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Boat trip Hallsands

A Trip to Sea- Learning about Landmarks

Posted on: 24th August 2018 No Comments
Jonny sharing his local knowledge

Jonny sharing his local knowledge

We’ve written a lot about landmarks in the past, but never from the perspective of being at sea. So we were excited to join Jonny and Tony recently for a trip along the coast from Hallsands as part of the ‘Guardians of the Reef‘ project. Our aim was to document some of the names of the ‘marks’ that local fishermen have used for hundreds of years to navigate the seabed, which if not documented will soon be lost.

 

Tony on his boat

Tony on his boat

Fishermen have been using these ‘marks’ for generations; looking back towards the land and lining up visible landmarks to locate specific points on the seabed where crabs or fish can be found. This was vital when deciding where to place your pots or strong of pots, and enabled them to retrieve them on another day. Of course this is just one aspect of the knowledge that fishermen needed, they also required an in depth knowledge of the tides, seabed, weather and seasons. This knowledge, along with a compass and a clock (if you were lucky) meant that fishermen got to know the seabed intimately.

 

We had a fantastic time travelling along the beautiful stretch of coastline towards Prawle Point and filmed the lovely Jonny sharing with us some of the many names he had learnt from other local fishermen. Much of this knowledge had come from Winkie Steer, who we later joined in the pub along with Graham Lynn, to learn more about landmarks and how they were used. We have decided to archive the entire recording from the boat trip as it’s all really valuable, and have also made this short film with the Beesands boys-

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The ‘Guardians of the Reef’ Project is delivered in partnership with the South Devon and Channel Shellfishermen Association and is made possible with thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. 

The Rhoda Mary Project Film

Posted on: 17th August 2018 1 Comment

In 2016 we were delighted to be asked to collaborate with the Rhoda Mary Project on a new community heritage project which sought to uncover stories about the Rhoda Mary and other Cornish merchant schooners. We have recently made this short film to tell the story of the project so far…

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The Rhoda Mary was a 110 foot merchant schooner designed by William ‘Foreman’ Ferris, built in 1868 at Point, in the Parish of Feock near Falmouth in Cornwall and was renowned for her elegance and speed.

We began the project with a Memory Day in Devoran and people came from all over the South West to share stories, photos and knowledge of the merchant schooners that were once vital to Cornish trade.

We then worked closely with 7 people, conducting oral history interviews to capture stories about the Rhoda Mary and other Cornish Schooners and made a series of digital stories, including one with some of the descendants of William Ferris, the builder of Rhoda Mary and many other vessels.

Responding to stories of Merchant Schooners for the Rhoda Mary Project

Finally we undertook a day long workshop with year 6 pupils at Devoran School. By using these

digital stories and with help from some knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteers, the children learnt about the Rhoda Mary, built in their parish, and the wider history of the merchant schooners.

 

The Rhoda Mary Project is a charity seeking to promote traditional maritime skills and celebrate the vanishing history of the Cornish Merchant Schooner.

To find out more about the project and how you can support it, please visit www.rhoda-mary.co.uk.

This project is extremely grateful to the Cornwall Heritage Trust for funding and support.

‘Guardians of the Reef’ Digital Stories

Posted on: 13th July 2018 No Comments

It’s always lovely to screen the digital stories we create, gathering people together to share, laugh and celebrate their stories. For the Guardians of the Reef’ project we held a series of screening events at the Cricket Inn in Beesands, who put on a fabulous crab supper for us, and at Hope Cove in the gorgeous little Reading Room and beautiful Chapel. We had some great feedback and are so glad we have been able to help record the heritage of the shellfishing industry so that it is not all lost.

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Most of the digital stories are now on our website here, with a few more soon to go up, and we will soon be making a DVD with all the stories on to give to participants and for the South Devon and Channel Shellfishermen Association to sell into the future. Here’s a couple to whet your appetite…

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Thank you to everyone who contributed their stories, to Beshlie at the South Devon and Channel Shellfishermen Association for being generally fabulous, to the Cricket Inn for being such wonderful hosts and to the Heritage Lottery Fund for funding this project.

Praze Memories shared on CD

Posted on: 6th July 2018 No Comments

During the ‘Linking Lifetimes’ project in 2015-16 we spent a lot of time in Praze delivering a story-sharing project between community members and children from Crowan School. One thing that we hadn’t initially expected to do was capture quite so many local memories. But projects are like that, they take on an energy of their own, and so we found ourselves spending hours sat in peoples kitchens and sitting rooms recording memories of village life in Praze. As always it’s a real privilege to be able to do this and we were fascinated, moved and entertained by the wonderful stories we heard.

We’d always said we’d like to make these accessible to people (over 30 hours of audio doesn’t quite fit this bill!) so we were delighted when Crowan Parish Council helped us find a small pot of funding through the Clowance Trust to make this happen.

So we are very excited to reveal this lovely CD that provides a snapshot into village life in Praze. Crowan Parish Council will be selling these for £4 each during Praze Fair week, so make sure you grab a copy.

We were also able to pull together the hundreds of local photographs that people contributed to the project and make a slideshow that will be available to see at Praze Fair Show 2018. So look out for those hilarious carnival outfits you’d forgotten about and enjoy seeing some faces from the past.

If you’d contributed your memories to the project you should have received a copy of the CD in the post. If you’ve moved recently and haven’t got one let us know so we can get another one to you.

Shellfishing Stories Screenings & Displays

Posted on: 2nd May 2018 No Comments

It’s been fascinating listening to the memories and experiences of shellfishermen from the coastal communities of South Devon and Dorset as part of the Guardians of the Reef’ project. Working alongside the South Devon and Channel Shellfishermen Association we have now recorded hours and hours of audio and collected thousands of amazing archive photographs. This in itself has huge value, documenting some of the phenomenal changes this industry has undergone within living memory.

 

Although all of this will be archived, it’s really important to us to bring people together to celebrate and share some of these stories, so we have transformed some of the material collected into a series of digital stories and displays that provide a fascinating glimpse into life in coastal communities and the ever evolving industry of shellfishing.

 

A selection of digital stories will be screened at The Cricket Inn in Beesands on the evening of the 16th May 2018 (limited places so booking required. They will also be played on a loop from the 18th – 20th May 11am-3pm in Hope Cove at the Reading Room and Chapel where people can drop in anytime. All of these events are free with thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the support of local communities and refreshments will be available.

A further collection of stories gathered throughout the project is currently on display at Salcombe Maritime Museum (read more here), which runs until the 31st October 2018 and is open every day between 10.30am-12.30pm and 2.30-4.30pm. The exhibition combines archive photographs, with text and artworks to illustrate snippets of the stories collected during the project in a colourful interactive display that hangs from the ceiling.


Fishermen would often transport their crabs in wooden tea chests, giving the project inspiration for another display consisting of a series of old tea chests covered in photographs, text and artworks that share some of the stories collected. These will be on display at the screening events and will also tour Crabfest in Salcombe and Paignton Harbour Fest in the Spring and Summer of 2018.

 

These events are a fitting celebration for the Shellfishermen’s association, which celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year. Beshlie Pool, SD&CS Executive Officer said, “the Stories are a fascinating trip through time, teaching us how fishing has changed within living memory from individual families catching crab for the table to the vibrant global shellfishing business that exists today. The innovation and perseverance of the fishermen and their families who have shared their stories with us is really something we are proud of and want to share.”

 

The oral history interviews conducted as part of the project will later be archived in their entirety at the Devon County Archives, Devon Rural Archives, Salcombe Museum and the Kingsbridge Cookworthy Museum providing a valuable record of the industry for generations to come.

If you want to find out more about the project or get involved then please contact Storylines on hello@storylines.org.uk.

Tracing Global Storylines

Posted on: 3rd April 2018 No Comments

After our successful collaboration last year with the National Maritime Museum Cornwall (NMMC) capturing the stories behind people’s tattoos for Tattoo Tales, we were delighted when the museum asked us to work on their new temporary exhibition, Titanic Stories: Contemporary Voices.

The NMMC commissioned us to find 5 people who had moved from overseas and now live in Cornwall and to work closely with them to record their experiences and to share these through a series of digital stories, portraits and objects.

Over the months spent on this project, it’s fair to say that we have been on our own journey which we thought we’d share with you here.

 

lookingoutWe started the project as we always do, by sitting down together to think around the subject and write some questions we would like to later ask people in a recorded conversation. The questions just kept coming and the more we thought about it, the more apparent it was that people’s stories of migrating were woven in tightly with their life story, their emotions and who they are today. There were so many ways of approaching this… psychologically, physically and spiritually. Uprooting yourself from one place, whether this is forced or by choice and starting a new life, in a new place, is a HUGE journey to make. Migration is such a vast and sensitive theme, so it was extremely important to us that people who contributed felt respected and enjoyed their time working with us.

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If you have been embedded in a place for life, you’re unlikely to think about the experience of uprooting and moving to a place where you don’t know the culture, the boundaries, the language and the people. By spending time asking people about their experiences we were able to gain a better understanding of the intricacies of migrating. It is not just physical movement from place to place, it’s the whole event that envelops you as a person. It’s the question of where and what ‘home’ is, of what it means to belong, of what you leave behind and how you manifest your own culture in a new place. photosIt was this emotional side of migration that was so interesting and moving, and something we really wanted to share through the digital stories. We wanted to open people’s eyes to the human side of migration.

 

Through long conversations we recorded so much meaningful material that it became a real struggle to reduce these to the 3-minute long digital stories that we had been asked to produce. We simply couldn’t do it. So the final edits have each been squeezed to around 6 minutes, providing small glimpses into very different stories of migration.

We hope that people who watch these stories in the exhibition will come away questioning what it means to be a migrant and empathising with those who have made such a journey. We were able to witness this happening during a workshop we delivered at the NMMC, which brought together the people we had worked with and a lovely group of Cornish men and women, most of whom had never moved more than a few miles.

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The Cornish contingent were bowled over by what people had been through, expressing a sense of wonder, admiration and empathy. The idea of belonging and of what home is, kept resurfacing and it was so lovely to see people connecting through the common language of story. After all, this is at the heart of our work.

We feel like we have just scratched the surface of this enormous topic and as people who know us well, know, we don’t like to leave stones unturned! So we are now looking into how we can explore the theme of belonging and migration further. If you are interested in talking with us about this or have a story to share, then we’d love to hear from you by phone or email.

Finally we want to express our sincere thanks to everybody we have been lucky enough to work with. You are all amazing.

For more on the project visit here.

Shellfishing Stories go on display at Salcombe Museum

Posted on: 23rd March 2018 No Comments

This week we have been at Salcombe Museum hanging the Shellfishing Stories exhibition which will be available to view from March 26th- October 31st 2018. This exhibition captures the dramatically changing face of shellfishing in South Devon through the stories of local shellfishermen and women, many of whose families have fished for generations.

The stories on show have been collected through a series of oral history interviews and collection events that enabled us to record memories and collect photographs from the shellfishing community. The stories are at times funny, breathtaking, moving and surprising… one thing’s for sue, the changes that people have witnessed within their lifetimes are staggering.

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Exhibition at Salcombe Museum

Our colourful installation involves a series of hanging buoys (or ‘dahns’) hanging from the ceiling, with illustrated stories hung down each rope. People are invited to delve into this fascinating world of shellfish by turning over the hanging pictures to reveal the stories behind them. There is also an opportunity to hear some of the fishermen and women we have spoken to by visiting the touch screen and to watch some of the digital stories created through the project.

This exhibition is part of the ‘Guardians of the Reef’ project which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and being delivered in partnership with the South Devon & Channel Shellfishermen‘s Association.

We’ve had lots of help getting to this point and would like to say a particular thanks to…

  • All the shellfishermen and women who shared their stories, objects and photographs with us
  • Beshlie Pool of the South Devon & Channel Shellfishermen’s Association for all her hard work on the project
  • Louise Scammell for the beautiful illustrations www.louisescammell.co.uk
  • Salcombe Museum for supporting the project and hosting this exhibition
  • Salcombe Fish Quay and The Cricket Inn, Beesands for hosting our collection events
  • Kingsbridge Cookworthy Museum for archive photographs and artefacts
  • The Heritage Lottery Fund for funding the project

All the recordings captured throughout the project will later be archived in full through the Devon County Archives, Devon Rural Archives, Salcombe Museum and the Kingsbridge Cookworthy Museum, preserving them for future generations.

 

10 things we didn’t know about shellfishing!

Posted on: 29th November 2017 No Comments

The Storylines team decamped to the Cricket Inn at Beesands, South Devon, to hear more stories and memories from shellfishermen past and present, working the coastal waters around Start Bay. We had visitors from Hallsands, Beesands, Dartmouth, Paignton and Salcombe with yet more tales of an ever changing industry.

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Jim Trout and the medal his father was awarded aged 10 for saving a sailors life

One of the great privileges of sitting with someone and listening to their stories is the amount of knowledge you gradually acquire, whether it be about a place, an industry, a process, an item of clothing, a landscape or a period of time. It’s not that you become instant experts about such things, but your world suddenly opens up and expands and on a day to day level small things make sense and this world becomes a little bit more joined up each day. We found this when exploring the china clay industry around Carn Grey in Cornwall. Our newly found knowledge of the industry and its processes informed everyday life, as we recognised where china clay featured in our lives and how it had got there.

So the anticipation of increasing our meagre knowledge of all things ‘shellfishy’ was immense as we embarked on the ‘Guardians of the Reef’ Project. Here are 10 things that we have learnt which have have surprised us…

  • A crab pot can be traced back to the person and place, which it was created by looking at how it’s woven, almost like a signature.
  • A surprising amount of fishermen cannot swim… as one remarked, “If I planned on being in the water I wouldn’t be a very good fisherman!”
  • It’s not only shellfish that gets hauled up in the pots…. Many fishermen have similar stories of pulling up bombs, some which have yet to be detonated.
  • Launching and returning to a beach such as Beesands and Hallsands brings with it a number of challenges, especially when the sea is rough. Retired fisherfolk, both men and women would help bring the first boats back into shore, pulling them up the beach.
  • Crabs are social by nature and can often be found in groups.
  • In fishing families they start young… many people remember going to sea to bring in a few lobsters or crabs before going to school.
  • Most fishermen have nicknames… some repeatable, some not! All with a story.
  • Most adaptations to pots, fishing gear and techniques start with one individual trying something new… some inventions, though laughed at the start, stick and are soon adopted far and wide. The French way of ‘knicking’ crabs claws (to take away their ability to open and close their claws) was ridiculed at first, but now most fishermen French knick their claws.
  • Us English don’t eat much shellfish… with much of peoples catch going to Europe and now as far afield as China.
  • Shellfishing is arguably one of the most sustainable types of fishing; not only because animals that are too small to be caught are returned to the sea alive, but because the gear stays in one place and impacts on the sea bed are considered minimal.

If like us you are intrigued about this ever changing industry and want to find out more, then make sure to check our website for dates for the forthcoming screenings of our films and digital stories, which will take place at Beesands and Hope Cove in the spring of 2018 (dates tbc).

Our thanks goes to everyone who attended the collection day at Beesands earlier this month and to Kingsbridge Cookworthy Museum who came to scan some incredible photos brought in by our guests and for the loan of artefacts for our display table. Thanks also goes to the Cricket Inn who provided phenomenal hospitality and the welcoming space for our visitors to share their stories.

This project was made possible due to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and is being delivered in partnership with the South Devon and Channel Shellfishermen Association.

Stories in Salcombe- 3 days on the Quay

Posted on: 24th October 2017 No Comments

‘Guardians of the Reef’ our Heritage Lottery Funded project gathering and sharing stories of the ever changing shellfishing industry along the coastal villages of South Devon, got underway last week.

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We started off in Salcombe, nationally renowned for its superb crabs, and spent 3 days in our temporary recording studio (one of the fisherman’s stores on Fish Quay) surrounded by coils of ropes and hanging ‘dans’.

Beshlie Pool the Executive Officer of South Devon and Channel Shellfishermen Association, had invited shell fishermen of all ages to come along to the store over those 3 days to share their memories, but our door was left open for anyone on the quay who fancied dropping in for a quick yarn and a cup of tea and cake.

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Exploring an old oyster dredge from Salcombe Museum

Salcombe Museum had kindly lent us objects pertaining to the industry from its collection and these quickly became the focus of much discussion and the prompt we needed to get people sharing. There was a beautiful withy (willow) crab pot complete with ‘skivvers’, a wire and sisal crab pot, some sand eel keeps or curge’s (much debate has been had over the spelling of this depending on where people are from… these include kurge and cooj!) and an old fashioned scallop dredge which would have originally been made for oysters and later used for scallops. The main puzzle over the 3 days was ‘who has made the withy crab pot?’ We still hadn’t got an answer by the time we left but it made for some fascinating banter.

We had a steady flow of visitors over the days, many from families who had fished for generations and they brought personal photographs of their ancestors in action. It was only then that we truly grasped the momentous changes that had taken place over the decades.

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Geoff Foall and Terry Cook share their memories

Amongst our visitors was Steve who taught us how to splice rope and tie important knots; Terry and Geoff who talked about their early days of fishing as youngsters in the ‘50’s and explained the evolution of the crab pot from willow to plastic; Alan who explained about the processing of crab and Tim and Dave who talked about their experiences of growing up and fishing in the smaller coastal villages of Hallsands and Hope Cove. Sarah invited us into the fisherman’s store she shares with her husband Phil and we were able to see what a vital space these stores are for the repair and storage of fishing gear. She also explained how sustainable crab fishing was and how as the ‘Salcombe Fishwife’ she made it her mission to re educate the general public at local farmer’s markets. From all our visitors we got a sense of a thriving and supportive community down on Fish Quay. Thank you very much for your contributions.

As part of the project all of these recordings will be archived and some of them turned into digital stories and films we will now be making.

If you didn’t make it this time, there will be 3 further collection days at the Cricket Inn at Beesands on 13th, 14th and 15th November from 11 – 3 each day. It’s free so drop in for a yarn and a drink at any time. If you have any photographs or objects that you think we’d like to see, then bring them along too. We will also be joined by Kingsbridge Cookworthy Museum who are lending us some archive photographs and artefacts for the 3 days and who will be scanning personal photographs on the Wednesday from 11-1pm.

There is also an opportunity for anyone interested in volunteering and/or doing some recordings for the project so we will be holding a free informal training session on the Monday 13th November from 3-5 pm. If you would like to find out more about this or to book a place then simply drop us an email or call us.

Sarah sarah@storylines.org.uk       07767382552

Ali ali@storylines.org.uk         07511266140

My Body, My Story

Posted on: 20th October 2017 No Comments

Over the weekend of 13th – 15th October , Totnes in Devon did something that it is so good at doing… it held a grassroots, community event. You might think there is nothing unusual about that, but this event was the BODYKIND FESTIVAL… the world’s first ever festival of body acceptance!

And Storylines was there!

Bodykind was about honouring life in its various forms, rather than comparing oneself or anyone else to an external concept of beauty. So as a result over the weekend there were national and international speakers, inspiring workshops, film, art, drama and theatre – something for everyone regardless of age, size, shape, colour , gender, sexuality or physical ability.

We at Storylines know only too well that there are stories everywhere – in fact we are walking collections of stories, so it was only natural that we wanted to gather stories about bodies because

We all have bodies and they all have stories!

22405916_1562346310510988_4290561033342497382_nMy Body, My Story was the theme of our prowl along the high street of Totnes; to see if anyone would be willing to share personal stories of their bodies. It’s a highly sensitive issue to walk up to total strangers and ask them to divulge stories of their bodies that perhaps others have never heard. We thought it might help if we looked vaguely ridiculous so we hung frames around our necks framing our request and at least people could see us coming! We did wonder how people would react and if anyone would want to participate but we were totally overwhelmed with the response and were bowled over with stories of great honesty, bravery and resilience. People were prepared to talk about their personal body hang ups, their struggles and the journeys they have made with their bodies. We celebrated these incredible stories by asking participants to choose a frame to highlight their particular body part so we could honour them in a photograph.

Thank you everyone who shared stories about noses, hair, hands, legs, tattoos, scars, fingers, weight, breasts and piercings. You were incredible!

We will now be editing together the audio stories and images to make a digital story so you will be able to hear some of these inspiring and revealing stories soon. Watch this space!