This show is a collaboration between the Vinyl Factory and the Hayward Gallery (currently closed for renovation but stepping away from the Southbank for this offsite endeavour). It takes place in an immense, labyrinthine, leaky, graffitied, disused office block on the Strand, which has been filled with ten films that will make you totally forget all the shitty video art you might have had to sit through in the past. All the works dip their figurative toes into art, music and documentaries….
Get over the boundaries and the pointless constraints. If you do that, you’ll find ten of the most engaging pieces of visual art you’ll see together all year. They’re full of passion, innovation, love, cleverness and emotion. Yes, the genres are blurred, and it’s about time they were. And if nothing else, you can’t say it’s boring.
I’ve been to the Lizard a few times for walks but never realised its monumental role in long-range wireless in the early 1900s. It’s only thanks to my brother, a radio buff, that I found out when he asked if I wanted to visit the Marconi Wireless station at Lizard Point.
It’s run by National Trust volunteers, and we picked up today’s volunteer from his house which was on our way. My brother had been in contact to make sure we wouldn’t miss opening times, and the lovely volunteer gave us the whole history of the area in the car. I was absolutely fascinated by the story of Marconi and wireless radio.
The Lizard is composed of Serpentinite rock which is extremely conductive and turned out to be the perfect location for Marconi to use as a base for experiments in sending and receiving wireless signals across the Atlantic to Canada.
The National Trust have replicated the exact setup Marconi would have had inside the building, and as I was asked not to photograph it you’ll have to visit to see! They also have evidence of the first ever SOS signal, and incredible stories about the Titanic and other tales of the high seas.
My brother, as he has a radio licence, was allowed to send out some signals, and we listened to communications from nearby boats; they were speaking Spanish and joking around. I peeped out of the window to watch them go by.
Since I’ve forgotten some of the details of the Marconi story it’s well worth looking up online, and visiting if you can get down to the Lizard. There’s also a Marconi centre further up the Lizard full of interesting stories, films, photos and equipment to play with.
Near to the Marconi wireless shack is Lizard Lighthouse, so we walked over to it as the day began to brighten up.
After a confusing exchange at the lighthouse ticket office, where we were baffled with options for visiting, and then paid £0.01 extra for 4 years’ free access to the grounds (?), we entered the museum and awaited our call for the lighthouse tour.
The lighthouse is in full working order but there is no longer a lighthouse keeper, it’s all run by computers with backup generators and contract workers who replace the bulbs when needed. It was a highly esteemed job back in the day though, and very isolating too.
The walk back to the car was really beautiful. The Lizard never disappoints.
Godolphin House is a National Trust owned house and gardens that sit at the base of Godolphin Hill, a spectacular viewpoint for seeing St Michael’s Mount and Penzance on one side and St Ives on the other, and only a 20 minute walk from the house to the top.
Settlements on the estate date back to at least the 1500s, though the house that remains there now is much newer and thrived due to the mining heritage in the area and within the family who owned it.
You can walk around the house which is one of the more interesting ones in Cornwall that is open to the public. There are quirky little cubby holes and odd peep holes in the thick stone walls, but I didn’t take any photos as many of the rooms have been modernised to accommodate guests it looks like.
There is an orchard to walk around for some peace and quiet and some really gorgeous spring gardens within the grounds. The one above was nestled between the main buildings, but there were some out near the paddocks too, and much different to Glendurgan Gardens or Trelissick.
This felt like the first proper day of spring and although there was a chill in the air coming from the North East, it was a perfect day to visit this place and go for a walk up the hill. Highly recommended.
The Eden Project is a place that looks like it’s from the X Files; a place where they might well be breeding killer bees or a new alien colony. In fact, it’s a curious regeneration experiment in Cornwall, and this is my 4th visit. I’ve seen it in every stage, from a building site to a flourishing success.
This particular visit is for my Sustainability course. The Eden Project flooded very badly a few years ago and we were there to learn about how they deal with that here and in the surrounding Cornish towns.
But what is this experiment for? The Eden Project is an educational charity. The site is a former quarry, and the creators of Eden wanted to see if it was possible to turn this dead land into something that could support life again. They created two ‘biomes’, a tropical one and a mediterranean one. Inside the tropical dome, which is as hot and humid as any jungle, they can grow bananas, coffee, rubber and bamboo. In the mediterranean dome they grow chillies, olives and vines.
There’s even a mediterranean restaurant inside, serving delicious Paella in a beautiful climate no matter what misery is going on outside. It happened to be a nice sunny afternoon while we were there which added to the atmosphere.
The Eden Project also run other types of experiments. They recently ran an extremely successful crowdfunder campaign raising £1.5m in a day to turn some farmhouses into classrooms while generating renewable energy to increase each backer’s return on investment. There are also plans to build a geothermal electricity plant, as Cornwall is one of the only places in the UK with potential for geothermal energy.
It’s a unique day out and I definitely recommend taking a look if you’re in Cornwall.
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Today was the day of the eclipse; the first one visible in the UK since 1999 when I remember watching on the telly and looking outside and thinking the telly made it look better than it actually was.
Back then, Cornwall was the best place to be and I remember they filmed at the beautiful St Michael’s Mount. It was a day of patchy cloud, and an eerie quiet enveloped the beach when the last bit of the sun disappeared – at home it went a bit dark but I wished I was in Cornwall.
I’m in Cornwall this time but alas, it wasn’t the best place to be for this one; that would be the Faroe Islands which are quite far away. But it was a sunny morning and crowds of people flocked to Gylly Beach in Falmouth, my temporary hometown, to create an exciting atmosphere for this event.
People brought various devices to view the eclipse; colanders and homemade pinhole projectors mostly, but I just used my phone’s camera – the eclipse was clearly visible in the lens flare which was handy. I didn’t go there expecting to see much though, I just wanted to be on the beach to share the experience with everyone.
It was nice to be on the beach early and reminded me of all the bright mornings and warm summer’s days that are to come. Living the student life by the sea this summer is going to be great!