I’ve been working towards my exhibition, Sea Caves, Shipwrecks and the Rocky Shore, at the Landmark Theatre in Ilfracombe from 25th February until 13th April. Ilfracombe is full of stories of smugglers, pirates and wreckers with place names like Brandy Cove and Samson’s Bay, named it is said after an infamous smuggler. Hidden beaches only accessible through tunnels, cut through the cliffs by Welsh miners in the Victorian era. One of these tunnels itself was a mighty cave which William De Tracey took refuge in 1170 after the murder of Thomas A Becket. October 9th 1796 is another key date in Ilfracombe’s maritime past, the day the London was wrecked at Rapparee Cove, adjacent to the harbour. Its cargo was prisoners of war, from the West Indies, passengers and a quantity of gold and silver and Ivory.
Right now is a great time to have an exhibition in the town because of its association with Damien Hirst. His artwork is made in a factory on the edge of Ilfracombe and a café, 11 the Quay, is decorated with his original artwork also a couple of months ago a huge statue of his, Verity, was installed on the harbour side. So Ilfracombe is becoming an Art Mecca? I hope so, and that my exhibition at the Theatre will add to its attraction.
Two of the pieces in this show are brand new and have never been seen. They are from the rocky shore below Hillsborough, where the London was wrecked. Many other images have never been seen before in North Devon. My next major exhibition in September is on the sandy coast of North Carolina, where this work will tour the Maritime Museums for a year.