The buoys speak up when someone comes close (Credit: R&A Collaborations)

Glass buoys to speak up for fishing communities

Sea shanties, fishermen’s voices and the sounds of a day at sea all feature in a new interactive art exhibit designed to give a voice to marginalised fishing communities.

The exhibit uses five large glass buoys suspended from slender wooden stems – all programmed to play recorded audio when a visitor comes close.

Each plays a different recording, and together they tell a rich story of the past and future of fishing communities.

The project – called Buoyed – has been created by the University of Exeter, in collaboration with Kaleider production studio, to help fishing communities in the debate over their future.

Fisheries regulation and fishers’ rights are vital issues for UK fishing communities, especially as the UK negotiates its post-Brexit relationship with the EU.

“Our aim is to empower and raise the political voice of typically marginalised fishing communities,” said Dr Louisa Evans, senior lecturer in human geography at the University of Exeter.

“The central concept of Buoyed is to develop beautiful pieces of playable art through which the voices of fishing communities are represented and shared with the general public, media and selected decision-makers.

“The UK is an island nation and people tend to feel a strong connection to the country’s coastal heritage.

“Inshore, artisanal fishing is an integral part of this culture, yet few people will realise how quickly this sector has changed in the last 10-20 years and how close we are to losing both the beauty and importance of fishing in terms of jobs and food security.

“Buoyed uses the voices of fishermen and women themselves to tell this story. It sets these personal stories within a broader context of UK and EU bureaucracy – to highlight the challenge of maintaining a way of life and earning a living from one of the most highly regulated industries in the country.

“As a collaboration between art and science, the exhibit is both moving and informative. Importantly, it helps document a key time in our country’s history – a time in which it is vital that the voices of our coastal communities are heard.”

The buoys will be on display at two forthcoming events: the Hastings Seafood and Wine festival in East Sussex on 16 and 17 September, and at Exeter’s Lost Weekend Festival from 6-8 October.

“It has been a privilege working on this project with Dr Evans, Dr Rachel Turner and fishing communities,” said Jocelyn Spencer Mills, Studio Producer at Kaleider.

“Our role has been to invite artists into the mix and we’re proud to have played a part in bringing such urgent and important issues to the fore.

“The artists: creative technologist Jay Kerry and writer and composer Daniel Marcus Clark have taken their lead from the fishers to create an artwork that is beautiful to look at, moving to listen to and fun to interact with.” 

Date: 15 September 2017

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