What is the EXPERIENCE Project and how does it benefit the local area?

    EXPERIENCE Marazion & Penzance is a sustainable cultural tourism project which focuses on out-of-season visitor experiences (October to March). It aims to connect visitors with the distinct historical, geographical and cultural assets of the Penzance pilot area.

    The project will deliver:

    • Research
    • Business support
    • Infrastructure and development
    • Marketing

    What are you doing in terms of research? 

    We carry out surveys on economic, social and environmental impacts of seasonal tourism in the region, to help us understand how it affects residents, local businesses and the environment. This will help inform our future plans and measure long-term impact.

    How are we helping businesses? 

    We offer local businesses training sessions, workshops and resources to help extend their season into the quieter months. We help businesses develop low season activity offers by providing marketing support.

    How are we providing marketing? 

    We are working with Visit Cornwall to create a low season marketing campaign, supporting businesses in the local area to promote their offers to the wider community and visitors.

     Why is the infrastructure needed? 

    The Penzance to Marazion coastal path is exposed to adverse weather. Over recent years, storm damage has created uneven surfaces and, at times, forced the closure of some sections. The path upgrade includes a newly resurfaced pedestrian and cycle path, re-routing of path through to seaward side through Longrock and Marazion car parks and improved access to the beach for people with mobility issues. New benches and cycle parking are also being installed. 

    In addition, a new art installation, the Gwelen arts trail, will provide an exciting interpretation of the historical and cultural significance of the area.  

    How is the EXPERIENCE Project funded?

    EXPERIENCE Marazion & Penzance is part of a €23.3 million project involving six areas of the Channel region (Cornwall, Brittany, Pas-de-Calais, Compiègne, Norfolk and Kent). Due to run until June 2023, the project is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Interreg France (Channel) England Programme. 

    Of the €16.1 million ERDF committed to the total project, €1.9 million is allocated to Cornwall Council, which is investing a further €0.9 million.

    How can I contact the project?

    If you would like to contact us, please feel free to email: experiencepenzance@cornwall.gov.uk.

    Please bear in mind, we are a small team and may take a couple of days to respond to your enquiries.

Gwelen Arts Trail

    How was it commissioned?

    The commission was an open tender process, asking artists to submit a proposal with their ideas for the arts trail. A panel made up of community representatives, art experts, council officers and local councillors jointly reviewed 20 proposals that were reviewed, scored and assessed. The panel all agreed on the winning proposal.

    What does it involve?

    The commission comprises of:

    • An arts installation along the Penzance – Marazion coastal made up of 85 individual sculptures in small to large groups.
    • Made to Measure call out asking local residents to contribute to the design of the artworks.
    • Community workshops including guided foraging walks and wood carving activities.
    • Talks and events including an ‘In Conversation’ event between the artist and Newlyn Art Gallery, open studio and architect tours sharing designs and drawings of the artwork.
    • An activity pack made in collaboration with local artists.
    • A podcast series with contributions from local residents and experts.
    • Gifting of trees to local community. 

    What is the idea behind it?

    Gwelen invites us to imagine the extraordinary, submerged forests hidden along its coastline in Mount’s Bay. Reaching several kilometres south of the shoreline, it is thought likely the Mount’s Bay forest also reached inland before its submergence, linking what is now land and sea. 

    Clearly recalled in the name of St Michael’s Mount - Karrek Loos yn Koos; which translates as ‘Grey Rock in the Wood’ - evidence of the hidden trees have been revealed through various storms. The greatest expanse of submerged forest occurs between Marazion Marsh and Newlyn, with the largest continuous block found offshore between Penzance railway station and Long Rock. Boreholes dug in different locations across the bay reveal differing sediments meaning that the process of the forest becoming submerged varied across the bay. Between Penzance and Long Rock this process was dramatic, allowing a significant number of trees to be preserved; while at the Marazion end the submergence was more gradual caused by the accumulation of still water pools. 

    The Gwelen trail traverses significant geological variety, demonstrating a wide range of natural phenomenon that led to the forest being submerged. While each point along the bay is unique, they are also linked by the rising sea which would have triggered each process of submergence. 

    The idea of a submerged forest is enchanting and immediately captures the imagination, linking to local histories of folklore and legend. It is also ecologically important, speaking to the significance of this area for learning and thinking about rising sea levels, future understanding of coastal development and climate emergency.

    How many sculptures are there and how tall will they be?

    Gwelen is made up of 85 individual sculptures spanning from the Penzance train station entrance to the Marazion carpark coast path.

    The sculptures range from smallest being 20cm high to tallest being 195cm.

    Each work has been custom made to the pose and measurements provided by local residents. These have then been clustered in social groupings based on how people use the path and aiming to support as best as possible participants mobility needs.

    Will the sculptures obstruct the path?

    No, the sculptures can be found to the side of the path and do not obstruct users from enjoying the coast path.

    What are the sculptures made of and are they environmentally friendly?

    The works are made from sustainably sourced UK oak and are being treated with an eco-friendly product that mimics petrification.

    When the treatment is first applied it goes on clear and so when works are installed, the oak will appear fresh cut. As the treatment is exposed to the weather the process of its ‘petrification’ then takes place and the works will evolve to a soft white grey similar to driftwood in colour.

    This process typically takes 7 months although this may happen faster given the coastal location.