Gwelen by Emma Smith - an arts trail to imagine the submerged forest

Mount’s Bay is home to an ancient, submerged forest, an enchanting phenomenon that is rarely seen, but occasionally uncovered at very low tides. A forest of wooden ‘seeing sticks’ is emerging along the Penzance to Marazion Coast Path. This arts commission by award-winning artist Emma Smith has been made to measure with local people from the area.

The coastal path has been open to the public to allow cyclists and walkers to enjoy the new upgraded route. The art trail is under construction and due to be completed in January.

Over 600 local residents have contributed ideas towards the creation of the sculptures – they were invited to share how they would like to sit or stand whilst imagining the forest along the coastal path. The artworks have been tailor made specifically to their ideas and measurements. In addition, the sculptures draw inspiration from local tree forms found in the surrounding landscape.

Named Gwelen – meaning stick or pole, gwel also means view or vision and gweles is to see – the artwork celebrates the power of collective and shared imagination. Gathered in groups along the path, the artwork creates the impression of clusters of trees, inviting the public to imagine the forest that was lost to the sea. Visitors to the path are able to sit, lean and engage with the sculptures as a place to reflect on the bay, and its geological and ecological importance.

A series of podcasts with interviews and stories from local residents explore the rich significance of the bay. With guest contributions from local and international experts, these uncover the site’s history and the relationships between people and the landscape. You can hear interviews on folklore, marine history, geology, and art and stories of living and working with the sea and land.

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