Hear Us O Lord From Heaven Thy Dwelling Place
Trip 3 (September 2022)
For our third and final crossing, we travel with 11 people and stay for two nights, allowing us to explore more of the Island. We are again five from the first trip (Alan Dunn, Helen Tookey, Bryan Biggs and the two Art Doctors, Liz Stirling and Alison McIntyre) and
six new collaborators - Hannah Dargavel-Leafe,
Matt Green and two Fine Art students from Leeds Beckett University,
Frankie Mazzotta (who has family on the Island) and
We set sail on Friday 9th September, the day after Queen Elizabeth II dies, a significangt date in that our plan to do some collaborative semaphore with Art Doctors-made flags on the crossings is cancelled, despite our friendly negotiations with Lawrence, the Glasgow-based Captain in charge. We do however make recordings and texts during the crossing and upon arrival, we sit down with Dr Michelle Haywood, a diver and member of the Tynwald Government (Member of the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture). Michelle talks us through some of the Island's environmental challenges and also their desire to increase the population by 15,000 for better balance. We then sit down with Rowan Henthorn from the Manx Blue Carbon Project to hear about this incredible project of mapping the island towards identifying future carbon sources. We run out of time to meet with Graham from the Manx Wildlife Trust but we do chat with Sound Records and plan our Saturday ...
... which is spent in Port Erin, savouring the beautiful beach, doing some semaphore, collecting plastic from a remote beach (Ben) and exploring the 'Winkle Pickers' exhibition marking the 130th anniversary of the Port Erin Marine Laboratory and chatting with some former academics who worked there, before hopping on board the steam train back to Douglas for an evening of fish & chips by the sea and the BAAD ACID gig at The British.
On Sunday, the Art Doctors head south to meet some wild swimmers, and the others jump on a bus north to Laxey to check in again with Bill from the Beach Buddies - it's not enough to just stand and stare - to pick up rubbish around the famous wheel and then up into the glen and down onto the beach, before again hopping on a rhythmic and contemplative train back to Douglas to get the ferry home. It is a curious weekend in the wake of the Queen's death, of flags going up and down, of cultural and sporting events being cancelled, of saying hello to fairies when the bus crosses Fairy Bridge, of collecting seaweed and listening to Sea Sparrow singing Neil Young's Harvest Moon upstairs in the British, surrounded by framed portraits of former Prime Ministers, thinking about what might happen next from within the 21 people who took part in the network and the many others we met along the voyage.
On board Manannan, sailing to the Isle of Man. On all the TV screens, endless rolling coverage of the death of the queen; fixed banner headline at the foot of the screen, THE QUEEN DIES. Speeches in parliament – the sound isn’t on but there are subtitles, probably inaccurate. Suddenly remembering a passing reference in ‘Through the Panama’, searching for it, finding it, an odd echo across 75 years:
Nov. 19 – or 21? The French Government falls: our little princess is married. Gallantly, the French crew drink health of Princess Elizabeth.
Bryan tells me that his daughter had her baby – a girl – in the early hours of this morning. A new granddaughter for him. People dying, people being born; the rhythm, the cycle, we think of as endless, something that will always continue. But will it? On today’s Guardian front page (I use the term ‘front page’ even though I’m looking at it not on paper but on the small screen of my phone), below all the coverage of the death of the queen, a section titled ‘Headlines’, then ‘Environment: World on brink of five “disastrous” climate tipping points, study finds’. On the brink of – this idea that we are almost at the point of something but not quite; yet the subheading, smaller, reads ‘Giant ice sheets, ocean currents and permafrost regions may already have passed point of irreversible change’. ‘ “The Earth may have left a ‘safe’ climate state beyond 1C global warming”, the researchers concluded’. So not ‘on the brink’ but already past it, beyond it. Already into a different reality, only we can’t recognise it as such.
The ship, with its fast jet engines, moves on through the blue-green water. Over on the horizon to my right, another windfarm; and an array of rigs and platforms whose purpose, as usual, I don’t know. The mix of technologies and purposes to which we put the sea . . . continued here.
Below is a PDF Bryan Biggs' drawings from Trip 3.