The events will explore the links between the coast and mental health. Photo by Lee Robertson.

Tickets available for free, family-friendly weekend event in Bude

A spectacular weekend of sound, light, music and art will be open to all for free in Bude, North Cornwall, bringing together regional and international artists to explore the connection between coastal living and wellbeing.

While admission is free for all events, tickets are available now for sessions that have to be booked. They will include an evening event at Bude Sea Pool bringing its beach huts and cliff face to life through art, music and sound, plus coastal singing walks during the day. There’s also artworks visitors of all ages can enjoy, without booking, across the REFLECT BUDE weekend (see full list below).

Since the spring, the REFLECT project, lead by the University of Exeter, has united local people through a series of briefings, talks and workshops to discuss their experiences of living near the coast and their connections to their environment. These experiences will all feed into a stunning family-friendly sound and light event at Bude Sea Pool and Summerleaze Downs this autumn (4-6 October), featuring new commissions and works by international and local sound and visual artists, plus community groups.

With a partner event happening from 11 – 13 October in Gravesham, Kent, REFLECT aims to compare the impact of coastal living on resident’s mental health in two vastly contrasting coastal communities in North Cornwall and Kent.

Celia Morgan, Professor of Psychopharmacology at the University of Exeter, and the research project lead, said: “We know from research that living near water can have a beneficial effect on health. But a lot of coastal and estuary areas have high levels of deprivation, and we have recently seen worrying trends like rising levels of suicide in young people who live by the sea. We want to engage residents and visitors using an innovative series of art installations and performances on the theme of the sea and wellbeing. We hope people will get involved and so we can better understand experiences of living in coastal communities, reduce stigma of mental health issues and learn how to better harness the restorative effects of the sea .”

Across the two weekends, each event presents the stories and findings from the local area in an iconic coastal location: the dramatic cliffs and 91-meter sea pool in Bude and the striking LV21 art and performance space, housed in a 40-meter steel hulled ship in Gravesham. REFLECT offers collaborators and spectators a unique opportunity to reflect on their own relationship with the coast and wellbeing.

On the Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings audiences can experience new commissions inspired by local people’s experiences of the coast at Bude Sea Pool, which will come alive with sound and light in its beach huts and surrounding cliffs (free but booking required).

Ulf Pedersen, well-known for illuminating national gardens and landscapes, will project his new work Karma Seas onto to the cliff face overlooking Bude Sea Pool, reflected into the water.

Beach huts at the Sea Pool will be transformed into intimate venues including Timothy Crowley and Kate Ogley’s new work Swirl sees recorded interviews exploring local people’s experiences of the sea transformed into an interactive and generative sound installation housed in a beach hut.

Other beach huts will host intimate performances of folk song by members of local Bude shanty group the Bencoolen Wreckers, new coastal soundtracks created by local young people from Bude Beats plus University of Exeter’s Ocean 404 experiment exploring how natural sounds affect our mood and brain activity.

Daytime events across the weekend in Bude include Heaven 17 founder and acclaimed sound artist Martyn Ware’s What Does The Sea Say?, a seaside soundscape housed in a beach hut located on Summerleaze Downs. Visitors are encouraged to write down what the sea means to them either in a visitor book and on the beach hut itself, creating a bespoke public artwork for Bude.

On Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th October, visitors can also take part in singing walks with Seamas Carey, choir leader of Cornish, all-inclusive, cross-generational male voice choir MEN ARE SINGING which meets at Bude Sea Pool Hub (free but booking required).

Throughout the weekend, REFLECT BUDE invites people to take Time To Sit and Stare on specially decorated benches by artists from Cornwall, including Granite & Glitter’s life size seal Neo, made from reclaimed wetsuit material neoprene sourced from local surf shops in Bude, Josie Purcell’s Intertidal cushions made using a historic and environment conscious printing process called Cyanotype and Esedha (meaning sit, take a seat in Cornish) by Ruth Purdy which wraps a bench in mirrored foil which Ruth will photograph across the weekend.

Research by the University of Exeter has shown that people tend to report better health the closer they live to the sea, and that views of so-called ‘blue spaces’ are preferred over other types of natural environment. Yet areas such as North Cornwall and Gravesham have high levels of deprivation with considerable barriers in many communities to overcome, such as accessing health services.  

As part of REFLECT the University of Exeter has worked with a small number of key collaborators with a lived experience of mental health over several months. The research and participatory artworks aim to understand the challenges and benefits of living by the sea and how coastal environments can impact wellbeing. This understanding comes from focus groups, interviews, nature connection, therapy sessions and involvement in art projects. They are also running a range of parallel research projects on questions such as ‘is cold water swimming antidepressant?’ and ‘how connected do adolescents feel to nature?’. This knowledge will then be used to create a vision of how wellbeing can be enhanced in these communities using the natural and human resources available.

REFLECT is produced by Sound UK in association with the University of Exeter and LV21. Funded by the Wellcome Trust, Arts Council England and University of Exeter. With special thanks to Friends of Bude Sea Pool, Bude-Stratton Town Council, Gravesham Council, Gravesend Pontoon and Minirig.

Date: 3 September 2019

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