Selkirk and Eyemouth are hosting a unique event, weaving together contemporary art, traditional craft, heritage and local industry.
Looking at links between the coast and inland, and the flow of ideas in both directions, Casting the Net hopes to bring spaces left empty after a decline in the towns’ fishing and textiles industries back to life between March 23 and April 6 in Selkirk, and March 30-31 in Eyemouth.The project, devised and curated by Borders Arts Trust (BAT), aims to cast a fresh light on the rich cultural heritage of land and sea.
Co-leader and Borders artist Helen Douglas explained: “There has been a huge swell of support for this project locally. It’s about valuing communities and their industries, and how one shapes the other. And, through contemporary art giving visibility to this, remembering, rediscovering and celebrating the lost and found.”
Casting the Net will launch in Selkirk on Saturday, March 23, with the opening of several exhibitions in disused shops and shop windows, featuring sculpture, photography, film and the premier of James Wyness’ soundpiece inspired by Eyemouth’s ice plant. Former fisherman Billy Aitchison, who now drives a fish van, will tell of his journeys from Eyemouth to inland, and the lore of the land and sea. Alice Francis’ contemporary performance piece Fish out of Water also sees her travel inland from Eyemouth to Selkirk, by foot and wearing a sculptural fish dress. She will make a collaborative film about her encounters, to be screened at her destination, Selkirk.
Visitors to Eyemouth can see the unveiling of a newly restored ‘Fifie’, a traditional wooden fishing boat, reconstructed by former Harbour Master Johnny Johnston and his team of young local apprentices and retirees from the boatbuilding trade. This will appear alongside a nautical mixed media work by Borders artists Sam Bain and Mary Morrison. Sculptor Natasha Smith is creating a collection of contemporary fossils, inspired by geological finds of sea creatures inland and the tools and debris of modern seaside life.
Filmmaker Catriona Taylor and poet Stuart Delves will collaborate on an installation of words projected on water, sited in a large tank representing thoughts and ideas about the demise of traditional fishing in Eyemouth.
Mark Timmins, working in textiles and photography, is gathering the colour, pattern and textures of fishing nets, boxes, letters and stripes found in Eyemouth and bringing these inland to Selkirk.
Selkirk has been shaped by mills, weaving, knitwear and textiles industry, so over Easter weekend, textiles and fishing will be woven together with story, memory and song at Eyemouth’s Fisherman’s Mission as a group of professional knitters from Eribé in Galashiels, meet up with skilled local knitters, netters and ‘natterers’, including retired fisherman Alex Thorburn, who will tell his yarns.
An exhibition of local ‘ganseys’, or traditional fishermen’s jumpers with their own unique designs, will go on show at Eyemouth Museum from March 30 through the summer.
Other works by invited artists include Jill Watson’s bronze relief of widows and children from the Eyemouth Disaster of 1881, when 129 fishermen drowned in the Great Storm, devastating the community. Freshly back after filming sharks in the Bahamas, underwater photographer Lawson Wood will also exhibit a series of his photographs and films in Selkirk.
Casting the Net closes with a Fish Supper at Selkirk’s County Hotel on Saturday, April 6, to celebrate Eyemouth’s fruits of the sea. To book, contact The County on 01750 721233. All other Casting The Net events are free.