Goonhilly Village Green
Through the Goonhilly Village Green (GVG) project, artists Sara Bowler and Elizabeth Masterton worked with academics and students at the ESI who were conducting research on the Lizard Peninsula's Goonhilly Downs.
Protected by its SSSI status and environmental heritage scheduling, the Downs form a unique landscape, underwritten by a distinctive serpentine geology. The project provided an opportunity for academics and other specialists to engage with amateur and lay people interested in sharing and exploring diverse bodies of knowledge associated with the Downs, and served as a temporary centre of cultural activity designed to generate a lasting legacy. A GVG event in 2016 included formal presentations, public lectures, workshops, guided tours and social activities intended to celebrate this special place.
In June 2015, Arts Council England made an award of £15,000 towards the project's further research and development. The award, made through public funding from the National Lottery, enabled the artists to consolidate their research to date and prepare for a pilot public event in September 2015, which included an artist’s commission, thematic workshops, walks, talks and social gatherings.
As artists, Bowler and Masterton make opportunities for new and innovative ways of disseminating research findings and debates, encouraging wider experiential understanding of complex issues. They actively looked to foster discussion between amateur and professional groups, with a view to understanding how Goonhilly Downs and similar sites could be supported and managed in the future. Through a process-based methodology, the aim of the project was to create a rich matrix of inputs for GVG with a view to fostering new and innovative outputs in the future.
The artists’ earlier project, Happidrome, presented the work of over 20 artists at the site from 2007-2011; Sara Bowler's website also has further details of her work.
In July and August 2015, a summer show in the ESI's Creative Studio featured work-in-progress from three current collaborations between ESI researchers and creative practitioners, including the GVG project.
The pilot project's culmination was a full day of events on September 26. This unique collaboration between local artists, organisations and businesses drew a wide range of visitors to explore the astounding natural environment, Earth Station structures, WW2 ruins and ancient archaeology. The project's aim was to be a place of assembly for locals and visitors alike: a common ground on which people could gather to meet, talk, learn and play. ESI researchers Dr Jonathan Bennieand Dr Caitlin DeSilvey were directly involved, sharing their understanding, knowledge and research questions with members of the audience.
Subsequently, the successful delivery of this Pilot project enabled the GVG team to secure funding from Arts Council England, Heritage Fund, FEAST, the Ernest Cook Trust and Elmgrant Trust for a programme of local events from February-April 2019, culminating in the main public event, The Gathering, in May 2019. The eclectic programme included: 6 new artists commissions; a Community Heritage Programme of workshops and talks; Goonhilly School, a day of outdoor learning on site for local children; the Village Green Society Lectures and Film Club; performances, themed activities and a “parish newspaper”, The Goonhilly Chronicle.
Work commissioned by Goonhilly Village Green from artists Phyllida Bluemel, Rosanna Martin, Elizabeth Masterton and Beth Emily Richards will be exhibited at the Eden Project’s Core Gallery from 2 November 2019-27 January 2019, as part of Unbounded: Contemporary Art Practices in Cornwall; a exhibition curated by the Eden Project and Field Notes showcasing artists working in or connected to Cornwall.