A trip back in time with Cornwall College media students

Posted on: 18th March 2024 1 Comment

Walking to the old net loft on the edge of Mullion harbour, with freshly cut tamarisk piled outside and Barry Mundy’s deep Cornish voice coming from within, it would be easy to believe that we’d been transported back in time. This was the scene which greeted media students from Cornwall College in Camborne, as they arrived to document Barry making a withy pot.

Barry making a crab pot

As part of our Withy Lore project, students squeezed amongst generations of fishing gear, spending 2 days immersed in Barry’s world. Filming him as he crafted a withy pot from willow and tamarisk, was certainly nothing any of them had witnessed before.

pot stand

Barry’s pot stand

Barry’s family have used this building in Mullion Harbour for centuries. His pot stand had been gifted to him many decades ago by a retiring local fisherman, so it’s fair to say it’s made a few pots! But this was to be the last, as the stand slowly crumbled under the pressure of the pot making. It felt fitting that this was documented. Another generations old tool was Barry’s bench with a block for bending the willow.

 

Barry hadn’t made a pot for around 7 years, and hadn’t made them commercially since the 1960’s when he would make 220 each winter. But it was clear that this craft was in his bones as he expertly danced around the ancient pot stand and the pot took shape.

Student Film Making

Following the 2 days filming, the students had the huge task of editing down many hours of footage to create a 10 minute film, which showed each part of the pot making process. Weaving in audio snippets which we had provided from a previous oral history recording with Barry, the students have done a fantastic job. They also produced a longer 3 hour film which documents the process from start to end and can be archived and learnt from into the future.

making a crab pot

It was a real treat to witness Barry make a pot, especially in such a special building which housed so many stories. We’re really proud of the students’ efforts and are looking forward to sharing the film they made as part of the Withy Lore exhibition at the Royal Cornwall Museum from 10th March – 22nd June 2025.

bottom of a crab pot

A huge thank you to Barry for sharing this skill and to Marc and Simon from Cornwall College Camborne for helping make this happen. Read more about the Withy Lore project here. This project has been made possible with thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, FEAST Cornwall, Cornwall Community Foundation, the St.Aubyn Foundation and the Fishmongers Company.

One Response

  1. LindaPrior says:

    So many drying crafts that it was great that you were able to entice him to make a final one. Maybe in the future these skills will be used again

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