7 & 8 October
Pay-What-You-Decide (Minimum £3 per boat)
Weston Lit Fest: Crossings
Eleven Stories about Boats, Birds, Sounds, the Sweet Potato, Plastic and especially, People.
Take to a rowing boat on Weston’s Marine Lake and lap up the amazing stories within artist Luke Jerram’s thought-provoking and immersive artwork, Crossings in this stunning, seaside setting.
Crossings is a new installation created by multidisciplinary artist Luke Jerram and BBC Radio 4 producer Julian May, which was commissioned by Compton Verney for its first presentation during summer 2022.
Part art installation and visitor attraction, Crossings consists of brightly decorated rowing boats, each fitted with speakers that play recorded audio of stories from around the world. In choosing a story and rowing onto the lake, participants are taken on an audio journey, transported to another life and circumstance as they listen to stories about people’s different life experiences and personal testimonies – sometimes less than idyllic but also exhilarating, fascinating, life enhancing, life-changing and even life-saving.
Each boat trip is designed to last around 30 minutes with the real-time sounds and experience of rowing blending evocatively with the recordings.
For the artist Luke Jerram, boats are a way of connecting people and places and can be objects of pleasure, while at the same time representing journeys into the unknown.
Story 1 Crossing from the Jungle
Mana Azarish is Kurdish and tells how, aged 13, navigating by the stars she guided a rickety boat full of refugees across the British Channel.
Story 2 Saving the Seas – with Sound
Steve Simpson, Professor of Marine Biology & Global Change at the University of Bristol, reveals through his research that the marine world is anything but silent.
Story 3 Three Irish Women Build a Currach for Saiorse
Elaine Moynihan, her sister Sinead and their friend Katy McShane tell their story of making a currach and rowing it in a long distance race, in memory of their friend and Katy’s sister.
Story 4 Fishing with Cormorants
Richard King, author of The Devil’s Cormorant, explains to listeners the traditional Japanese fishing technique of Ukai, in which fishermen use trained cormorants to catch fish in rivers.
Story 5 Night Boat to Timbuktu
Broadcaster Andy Kershaw recounts his adventures of taking a steamer along the Niger to find his friend, the late, great Malian bluesman Ali Farka Toure and their journey together to Timbuktu.
Story 6 Mr Fan, Vietnamese Boat Person
Mr Fan, a barber in Greenwich, who was one of the Boat people, refugees from Vietnam tells his family story about leaving for Hong Kong on a sailing boat that no one on board knew how to sail. A voyage that should have taken a week or so lasted three months. Just as they were within sight of Hong Kong’s skyscrapers, storms blew them back to Vietnam.
Story 7 From Elephant Island to South Georgia – Following Shackleton
Seb Coulthard, recreated the incredible journey made by Ernest Shackleton and members of the crew of The Endurance, who went to get help for their beleaguered colleagues left on Elephant Island, by sailing the ‘James Caird’ 800-miles across the roughest seas in the world to South Georgia. Seb made the same journey in a boat the same size and survived to tell the story.
Story 8 How the Sweet Potato Came to Polynesia
When Captain Cook reached Tahiti in June 1769 he found sweet potatoes there, a food indigenous to South America and not able to survive in sea water. So, how did the sweet potato reach Polynesia? A story told by Professor Steven Hooper about the skill and knowledge of Polynesian navigators, such as Tupaia.
Story 9 From San Francisco to Sydney on a Raft of Plastic Bottles
Jo Royle draws attention to the plastic rubbish floating in the oceans by co-designing the Plastiki, a boat constructed from 12,500 recycled 2-litre plastic bottles and sailing all the way from San Francisco to Sydney.
Story 10 Alone in the City, Drowning, Almost
Neil Trevithick lives on a boat and has sailed solo across the Atlantic. Some of his voyages have been risky but he came closest to drowning close to home, in the river near the Thames barrier. He lived to tell the tale, which he does.
Story 11: From Barbados to Bristol, May Tanner’s journey with the NHS
Marking the 75th anniversary year of the NHS and of Windrush, this is the story of May Tanner who became the first black ward sister at Bristol Royal Infirmary. Hear how May, now 91, set sail to England from Barbados in 1956, responding to the call to help re-build a country whose ‘mother’ language, traditions and songs had filled her school days.
This story was commissioned by University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust and Super Culture.
Please contact email@example.com with any accessibility needs.
Being on a boat that’s moving through the water, it’s so clear. Everything falls into place in terms of what’s important and what’s not. James Taylor
We are imprisoned in the realm of life, like a sailor on his tiny boat, on an infinite ocean. Anna Freud
Lead image is of May and Michael Tanner, enjoy May’s own story (Number 11) on Marine Lake during Weston Arts + Health Weekender, 1 Oct. Credit Paul Blakemore, with thanks.
Weston Lit Fest is a partnership between Super Culture, Weston-super-Mare Town Council and The Write Box