Swansea poet to capture Gower coast as part of National Trust celebration

Writer Owen Sheers, professor of creativity at Swansea University, is to produce a new work, inspired by Swansea’s Gower peninsula, which has been specially commissioned by the National Trust for a project celebrating the British coast.

Entitled “One and All, the project is a digital voyage through sight, sound and sea, combining sound effects, poetry and art.  

Owen Sheers, along with sound artist Martyn Ware (founder member of pioneering 1980s synth band Human League), and visual artist Tania Kovats, have been invited to take inspiration from 50 years of Project Neptune, the National Trust’s campaign to acquire and care for coastal land.

One and All will enable people across the country to take a virtual coastal walk, immersing themselves in the sounds and sights of the coast.  This immersive coastal journey can be experienced at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/oneandall

Alternatively, they can experience the translation of this digital project into the real world at Somerset House’s River Rooms overlooking the River Thames.

One and All launches online and in London on 4 November 2015.

Capturing Gower

‌Owen Sheers will create a new poem based on Swansea’s Gower Peninsula, which was the first part of the UK to be named as an area of outstanding natural beauty, and which was also the site of the first stretch of coastline acquired by the National Trust and funded by Project Neptune.

Rhosili sunsetDuring August, Owen is spending time with people living and working in Gower. 

Working in collaboration with film maker Ben Wigley, Owen will produce a work which takes visitors on a lyrical audio-visual journey along the stretch of coastline from Paviland cave to Worm’s Head.

Picture:  Rhosili beach at sunset, with Worm's Head in the distance, and the wreck of the Helvetia in the foreground.  Credit: Visit Wales.

200 x 233Owen Sheers (pictured) said:

"The hope is that in focusing upon a stretch of Gower coast from Paviland Cave to Worm’s Head visitors, whether to the film online or at the exhibition, will experience an immersive journey through the human, natural and historic landscapes of this especially dramatic environment.

The Neptune project began in Gower, so it feels particularly apposite to mark its anniversary by spending time here excavating the lyrical resonance and meaning of its coast."

Describing his appointment to the post of Professor in Creativity, based in the Research Institute for Arts and Humanities, Owen Sheers underlined the importance of projects which bring together ideas and engagement with local people.

‌"It is an exciting appointment offering the opportunity to delve into the treasure chest of ideas and stories that is a University with a view to creating artistic projects fuelled by the research and energy of Swansea’s academics and students.

I’m particularly interested in the possibilities the post offers for engagement and collaboration with the local community, and in doing so, helping to weave a strong cultural thread through the daily life of the University."

The Sea:  Sound and vision

Martyn Ware’s 3D soundscapes - What Does The Sea Say? - recall his childhood ‘charabanc outings’ to the Yorkshire coast. Ware’s enigmatic bright blue beach hut has toured the UK this summer and the public have had the opportunity to record soundbites about what the coast means to them.

Visual artist Tania Kovats’ Tide builds on her longstanding fascination with water and the sea. Using real-time data, Kovats’ digitally animated drawing brings to life the UK tide, with spectators able to accelerate it or pause it. Combining sound and art, her 12-kilo bronze bell, cast on Porthcurno Beach in Cornwall, will ring daily at high tide over the River Thames.

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Picture:  Martyn Ware with his touring beach hut, at Seaham, County Durham.   Members of the public were invited to step inside and record their memories of the coast, to help create an archive.

Project Neptune and the National Trust

•    In the UK, no one lives more than 75 miles from the sea
•    The National Trust owns 775 miles of coastline in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (574 miles of this has been bought since 1965)
•    The first coastal place acquired by the Neptune Coastline Campaign was on the Gower - the beautiful Whiteford Burrows
•    Every mile of coastal footpath that the National Trust looks after costs them £3,000 each year

As part of the fiftieth anniversary celebrations for Project Neptune, the National Trust has invited the public to share their favourite coastal sounds, to build a crowd-sourced soundscape of the nation’s coastline. The sounds are being hosted on a map on the British Library website and added to the British Library Sound Archive for future generations to enjoy.

The public can also vote for the UK’s favourite coastal sound from a selection of popular sounds which have been shared so far.

Research Institute for Arts and Humanities

Find out more about One and All