Bridge the Tamar
Bridge the Tamar showcases the work of twelve artists working in Plymouth and Cornwall.
The exhibition, inspired by an image from the city archive of activists demanding a bridge over the River Tamar, explores local and global challenges of connectivity between peoples and societies. With works in the show responding to themes including displacement; longing and belonging; togetherness; community; repair; borders and edges; and place making.
Curated by : Hannah Rose and Elaine Sinclair
Artists: Rachael Allain/ Bridgette Ashton / Nicola Bealing / Sovay Berriman / Samuel Bestwick / Naomi Frears / Sophie Ingram / Dean Knight / Molly Erin McCarthy / Rhys Morgan / Steven Paige / Ben Sanderson
Ideas of displacement and longing for connection are explored in Nicola Bealing’s Long Distance Swimmer, presenting a lonely figure, eternally swimming and searching for another living soul - always just out of reach beyond the horizon. Whilst in Rhys Morgan's film Interior: Off Straight Street, the artist investigates queer spaces in industrial areas of Bristol, to speak to the displacement of queer communities - amplified by the Covid 19 pandemic. Steven Paige’s Look (an appropriated image taken from the cover of a book about how to see and understand the world around you) presents the optimism and hopefulness of youth in seeking and making friends and building communities.
Made during a marine scientific field study on a research vessel in and around Plymouth Sound; Rachael Allain’s film takes us on a journey that navigates borders, edges and margins between counties, connected and separated by land, bridges and water. Whilst Dean Knight and Ben Sanderson’s work explores forgotten borders - whether the mundane corner of a fictional space, or the border of a garden flower bed. Dean Knights’ Cellar depicts a ‘still life’ of a screenshot from the video game 'Uncharted 4' (PS4), detailing a landscape often unaccessed by players. The work’s title also alludes to underground queer culture and the Gaymer community, creating a ‘safe’ space for marginalised peoples to gather. Ben’s painting, built from years worth of offcuts and scraps; questions our attempts to control nature by disrupting the formality of maintained garden spaces and the systems of categorisation applied to them, with rogue, uncultivated and uninvited species.
Molly Erin McCarthy Western Approach to Paradise and Sophie Ingram’s Wet Concrete IV are an expression of the process of learning to love where you are, whilst musing on the way that identity is shaped by the places we inhabit. Western Approach to Paradise is a love letter to a demolished footbridge that Molly would often gaze at on bus trips into the city from her home in Torpoint. Using scans of debris, 3D modelled replications and archival content, the work creates a futuristic mythos for Plymouth’s Western Approach footbridge and adjacent building. Sophie’s work is an exploration of her environment, exploring Plymouth through regular excursions to gather textures for a series of prints. Meanwhile, in Sovay Berriman’s duo of presented works, the artist examines Cornish cultural identity and its relationship with heritage, land and extraction industries. In Resting Post (Molluscs Hunt Wizards) Sovay draws links between landscape and personal narrative, looking at understandings of boundaries and markers; and in MESKLA | Brewyon Drudh (Mussel Gathering | Precious Fragments), she uses drawing to unpack conversations with people about their views on Cornish identity - relating to broader contexts historically, nationally and globally.
Said to mean ‘Great Water’ in Cornish, the Tamar river divides the counties of Cornwall and Devon. Samuel Bestwick’s ‘Dowr Tamar / Great Water’ explores the evolution of the river’s landscape through time. Rooted in local heritage and environmentalism the film catalogues humanity’s technological progression, commercial expansion and environmental exploitation through the 22 bridges that cross the river.
We witness the joy of togetherness and community in Naomi Frears’ All Going Nowhere Together (Cars) where a choreographed ‘dance’ takes place, with 40 cars and people going ‘nowhere’ together. In contrast, Steven Paige's work Hello My Name Is, made in response to being part of a temporary secular community at Braziers Park estate in Oxford, reflects the challenge of building cohesive communities.
Bridgette Ashton has been busy posting MIRROR a series of cardboard rocks for her work Wall Of Wonder, remaking a piece that she had previously shown and subsequently deconstructed in a ‘firework finale’, where the sculpture was bedecked with Catherine Wheels. In this new iteration the rocks have travelled from Cornwall over a period of 3 months (before the demise of non-barcoded stamps), showing the marks of their journey and passing through many hands on the way.