Star Attraction of ArtsFest 2013

The focal point of this year’s Lyme Regis ArtsFest (21-29 September) is a showcase of the unique artwork that has resulted from its re:collection project. Launched a year ago, this collaboration between ArtsFest and the Lyme Regis Museum now reaches its crescendo in themed exhibitions at the Malthouse and Town Mill Galleries, as well as on Lyme’s seafront and in Uplyme.

The concept behind re:collection was to invite artists to visit the museum, focus on an exhibit of their choice and then develop a personal response by taking a creative journey inspired by that object. The resulting artworks are as diverse as the museum collection itself and the personalities and skills of the artists.

 Annie Ward's Papertrace

Early on, 13 artists produced such innovative proposals that ArtsFest successfully approached The Arts Council for funding to bring their ideas to fruition. A further 24 artists and an entire local art class have since joined the project, creating exemplary responses to the re:collection concept.


Lynda White's Great Wall of China

Several artists took inspiration from the casement of rubbish tip objects found in a recent landslip. Fascinated by how inclusion in the museum placed value onto these everyday items, the artists responded in different ways. Ronnie Creswell and Annie Ward turned their own beach-combed finds into art installations; Lynda White re-sorted china fragments into resin block souvenirs; Celia Goodman created a glass panel imprinted with everyday forms; and Maisie Hill produced a series of photographs called ‘Emerging Rubbish’.

The largest re:collection project, Gail Sagman’s The Great and the Small, was inspired by a signpost reading ‘Annapurna, Himalayas 4,500 miles’. Referring to the Blue Lias geology that links Lyme Regis with Nepal, this sign spawned a month-long interaction with Nepalese communities which in turn generated an imaginative and exciting multi-media exhibition with music and dance performances at Gail’s Jam Factory Studio in Uplyme, on the seafront and, later in December, at the Marine Theatre.

The museum’s fossil collection set Carolyn King on a journey to write and illustrate a children’s book, The Fish Lizard of Lyme, but it also encouraged Bristol-based Ilsa Fatt to maCaroline Barnes' ceramic souvenirske some gorgeous necklaces and Jenny Humphrey to paint a tribute to the Blue Lias. Other objects to inspire ArtsFest artists were the Holcombe mirror (stained glass maker Ann Pengelly), the collection’s ceramic souvenirs (ceramicist Caroline Barnes), the Bindon Landslip model (painter Geoff Townson), a school door key (painter Anthea Simmons), a Spanish earthenware jar (mixed media artist Pam Allsop) and the Thomas Coram display (textile artist Jennie Pearson).

Photographs and engravings were prime sources too. Century-old photographs of Lyme beaches with bathing machines and deck chairs inspired Sarah Thomas to construct a replica bathing machine and turn it into a mini-museum filled with modern ‘artefacts’ and to make deck chairs Dave Wickens' The Great Landslip of 2039whose fabric tells the story of Lyme life. Dave Wicken interpreted the engravings of the Great Land Slip of 1839 into a hypothetical photograph of a future landslip, and Paula Youens was challenged to make modern prints from recycled materials after seeing early woodcuts of Lyme. In a similar vein, Edna Dorrington was taken with seaside holiday photos, Adrian Gray with low-tide beach pictures, Hilary Buckley with a photo of the Cannington Viaduct and Michael Stride with pictures of the locomotive named after Lyme Regis.

The museum’s literary and artistic displays grabbed the attention of Brian Matravers who began collecting foreign–language versions of John Fowles’s novels, Christine Allison whose link to a lost painting by James Whistler sent her on an artistic journey of family connections, and Elizabeth Richie who was so taken with the Lymniad, a poem recounting life in Regency Lyme, that she will be presenting passages from it as a performance art piece.

Keith Robinson's Trapped in the Jurassic

And finally, it was the museum’s actual building which would serve as muse to some. Keith Robinson saw it as the genesis of a children’s book, Elfi Edwards as a photographic reflection on what its walls had seen, and photographer John Marriage as the representation of an architectural anomaly, a ‘pure’ museum built originally without a collection to house. Lastly, Hugh Dunford Wood was inspired by what was missing from the museum collection, and is constructing a ship in a bottle, vintage 2013.

Sarah Thomas and Tracy Chevalier with Bathing MachineThe exciting new works created from these various starting points will be on show at the Malthouse and Town Mill Galleries. The bathing machine and deck chairs will be on the seafront next to Rinky Tinks, and The Great and the Small will be at the Jam Factory in Uplyme. In addition, visitors can enjoy seeing both the original artefacts at the Lyme Regis Museum and the story behind these artists’ journeys at a special exhibition in the Museum’s Rotunda Gallery.

Further information about ArtsFest is available at or pick up the free ArtsFest brochure, now available at TICs, libraries and local shops in the region.

Published on 09/09/2013.

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