5.2.3 Documenting St Ives

Wheal Dreams is is a photo documentary work of ‘Life on the Edge’ for the fishing community in St Ives. It is based on photographs and observations from 2019 to 2022 from walks down from Wheal Dreams where many of the fishermen used to live then along Smeaton Pier where the fishing catch is landed from the boats and loaded onto vehicles for transport to the fish market.

There have always been historic divisions between families because of religion. And fishermen living in ‘Downalong’ see themselves as a very different species from the mining community in ‘Upalong’ in St Ives. I am also very interested in changing roles of women with tourism. And the perceptions of different sections of the fishing community on how tourists can be less annoying while still contributing to the local economy. etc etc… A particular interest are the political nationalist edges interlinked with Cornish identity edges that were constructed around Brexit, before after and during.

It is a continuation of preliminary background research for Visual Communications Advanced Practice Assignment 3 Teetotal Street. I got to know a number of fishermen working on the Quay just past the old settlement and Wheal Dreams that now houses the St Ives Museum. I took quite a lot of photographs that I promised to send them, and always intended to do a Photobook with them as part of this Assignment. However this got delayed until October 2021 because of COVID. And is in any case a longer-term project to get to know different people without imposing, and really understand dynamics over time.

Wheal Dreams 2019 Photo Essay

A rapid Photobook based on selected photographs from December 2019 exported from Lightroom was messy in both concept and layout.

This first quick selection was nevertheless useful in pointing to some themes:

  • who is actually controlling the process
  • the way in which each boat is in a sense its own Island while at sea
  • but the interdependence of the fishermen with each other contrasts
  • the competition for markets and mad rush as the catch is landed.

Now my plans to revisit are definite and booked, I will mail my main contact and send him the link to the photographs to see which ones he and his friends and family like. On that basis I will then do a reselection and re-editing of the photographs with text. Adding also

I will then redraft the book or a Photo Essay, mapping out how I can feasibly finalise it with further audience input shortly after. Possibly as part of my work for Sustaining Your Practice.

Contextual research

information from the historical books on St Ives fishing communities I scanned from the St Ives library, and also notes from discussions with my neighbour in Teetotal Street about her experiences growing up as a girl in a well-known local fishing family.

Photo Essay from local feedback

Once my plans to revisit and this project were definite and booked, I mailed my main contact and sent him the link to the photographs to see which ones he and his friends and family like. On that basis I will then did a reselection and re-editing of the photographs with text as a Photo Essay.