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Between Land and Sea

Peninsula Arts, Levinsky Building, Plymouth  19th Jan – 14th March


Between Land and Sea is the second show in the new Peninsula Arts Programme, and is an exhibition which uses the sea as a point of departure, or reference point that connects the artist to the sea. The range of responses allows the viewer to explore and discover and embark on a journey of your own as you navigate the space from one piece to another.



Chris Wainwright’s 'Red Sea' (above) holds your attention as the intermittent lights and split screen video projection try to tell, warn or inform the viewer. The longer you spend watching this piece the more you realise that even the most sea-worthy need to take heed. The flashing red and amber lights are a life line to those out on the waves. In comparison, Wainwright’s stills, offer a kind of peaceful reflection – yet the viewer is placed firmly on land.

Catherine Elwes, telling tales aboard depicts a journey, a voyage, to locations exotic and perhaps unknown. However the personal tales told to camera brings the viewer on board the Blue Fin. The stories from the real life characters are spoken with the fondness of friendship, of comradeship, of time spent in a small space. Words of wisdom form one’s life experience told to another, the viewer is invited to part of this gang, to learn from them. Meanwhile views and sounds of the boat and the sea are present.



'Connections of Visibility', by Susan Trangmar (above), captures the mist brought in by the sea: a blanket of cloud that is recognisable by anyone who lives close to open water. The viewer enters a small black box to watch the videos, and somehow the mist escapes the screens and envelopes the whole room. The work makes you feel cold, makes you feel present, as the sun fights to break through the cloud and start the day. There is tranquility in the cloud and the stillness of the landscape. Unlike the Elwes piece, whose journey is told though story, this journey is told through the slow movements of nature, and what the sea brings to the land.



William Raban’s Continental Drift looks at the busy highway for commerce that separates the UK from France – the Dover Strait. The social and political undertones present are identifiable in the busy natural harbour here in Plymouth. This last piece raises the question not posed by the other works in the exhibition. Raban points out the territory of water, the depiction of it as another surface to cross or a boundary to separate.

Overall, this exhibition is understated, subtle, yet completely obvious. It serves as a reminder to viewer of our own location and proximity to the sea, and perhaps Plymouth with all its history and maritime emblems should in fact look to the sea for a new sense of identity and inspiration.


Text courtesy of Kroak, People's Republic of South Devon. Pictures courtesy University of Plymouth.