Following an exhausting weekend running around events and installations at Weymouth which marked the launch of the Cultural Olympiad, sundown on the 28th September 2008 saw me excitedly awaiting the start of the first performance that I have had some involvement in developing in the Jurassic Coast Arts Programme since coming into post as the Arts Co-ordinator.
Our own contribution to the launch of the Cultural Olympiad, East Cliff at West Bay was the location for the first in a trilogy of Charlie Morrissey’s new work Universal Value commissioned by PVA Media Lab in partnership with the Jurassic Coast Team. Drawn from the reason for which World Heritage Sites are inscribed onto the World Heritage list, that is, their Outstanding Universal Value, the works in this commission use the UNESCO World Heritage Site as a backdrop, stage and cinema screen to draw our attention to the global significance of the site, exploring its geology, natural history and environment.
As evening drew in, the sea provided us with a quiet, regular and slightly eerie soundtrack for local faces projected onto the full height of the cliff face – seemingly intermingling humans, with the geology and natural features of our landscape. Slow-motion moving images of young and old took on new meanings as cracks and fissures in the rock added another dimension and character to the display. Some faces that were perhaps happy and kind appeared sinister and menacing as they took on the age and appearance of the site itself.
Leading up to the showing of the work, Charlie spent several days working on the beach and around the harbour at West Bay, filming and talking to the people of all walks of life who came past about the commission and his work more widely. Many of these people were locals, some were working, some were holiday makers, and some were day trippers. Many also attended the event, and it was really pleasing to hear their thoughts of seeing their faces projected onto the cliff. All were impressed, and many commented how it seemed to put their world into perspective somehow.
I wait with eager anticipation for the next instalments of this trilogy, next spring at Budleigh Salterton and in the autumn on the Isle of Purbeck.
Daisy Sutcliffe , Jurassic Coast Arts Coordinator