An Ode to The Sea
Let me take you on a walk through my experience of Mike Perry’s ‘Land/Sea’ exhibition at Plymouth Arts Centre.
The air is peaceful and the space quiet; as you open the door, the smell of coffee wafts towards you from the gallery cafe. Upon entering, you take a left down the slope to the lower gallery space. A shoe vibrant in colour and intricate in detail confronts you. It sits, very real, waiting to be looked upon on the wall. Look closer. It takes a while to realise that there’s an illusion here; despite the shoe’s realness, it is in fact a photograph.
Let us continue walking around the corner. Your footsteps are imitated on the wall in the form of photographs of single shoes, arranged continually as if someone has just passed through. A reminder of our relationship to the sea that started long ago, and one that carries on. Some of the shoes have clearly been in the wrath of the sea longer than others for only their sole remains; while life in the form of shells and sea creatures has seeped into others.
Continue your journey up the stairs. Here are more photographs; this time of plastic bottles found washed up on the shore. Being reminded of their origin, you are amazed at your reaction to them. Surely if you had found these you would feel repulsed? Perhaps you may even reluctantly pick them up. Yet, here in this space you find them are tactile objects of beauty. Like the shoes, they hold an overwhelming stillness. A stillness that so clearly contradicts the journey each object has taken across the sea. Every scratch, tear and mark is all that remains of their long and vicious voyage. Perry has managed to capture and bring into our awareness their elegance, turning our rejected trash into objects of desire.
Keeping walking. In this room, photographs of vast landscapes of Britain’s moors and mountains seem in sharp contrast to the humbler objects we have seen so far. Let us spend some time here. You feel you have seen similar surfaces and textures before; the erosion of the land is mimicked within the erosion of the photographed objects we have just passed. As if the sea has imprinted these landscapes on the objects with such permanence of mark. A interconnectedness between the macro and micro worlds we inhabit.
We have come to the end of our walk now. The short time you have spent here doesn’t stand close to the extent the damage our trash has caused our sea. The sea which is so significant to the land we live in.
We must always look closer, with the same attentiveness we should be giving to the sea. Perry has given an ode, not to our trash, but to our sea.