“Wherever you may go in the world, if you see a hole in the ground, you will find a Cornishman at the bottom of it.” 1
It was August 2005 when I first visited Cornwall. I was invited by Sara Black, Director of ProjectBase to produce a new issue of the magazine regina, in and about Cornwall.
On my first research visit I stayed in an apartment at Pentire peninsula in Newquay with fantastic views of Fistral Bay, where I soon took my first surfing lesson with Hibiscus surfing school. Fistral Beach is just one of many bays on the north coast of Cornwall that are perfect for surfers, who come here for national and international competitions. It is this dramatic coastline, the emotional landscape and the mild climate that attracts tourists during the spring and summer seasons. But for the rest of the year the little villages and small towns are left behind. Not that they turn into complete ghost towns, but many houses and apartments are actually vacant during the colder days. The tourist industry is one of Cornwall’s major income sources. This county, so rich in its moorland, cliffs, coastlines, country gardens and wooded valleys, is still reported to be the poorest county of the United Kingdom. This was not always the case, but, since the decline of the mining of tin, copper, and China-clay in the mid-19th Century, Cornwall economically depends on its agricultural and fishing resources. What that means in times of globalism and capital imperialism one can imagine. Yet, ‘The Granite Kingdom’ or ‘Stone Peninsula’ – this timeless land – looks to the future. Throughout my research trips I realised more and more that there are many projects, and even more individuals, that commit to protecting and conserving the wildlife and environment, and that use their energy to invest in renewable-energy research. It is this environmental consciousness with its long-term social and political impact that is progressive about this timeless land, and which has been one of my focuses for this issue. I wish you an informative back-to-the-future trip through Cornwall.
I am very grateful to Sara Black, who always guaranteed me a pleasant stay in Cornwall and who introduced me to surfing. I also want to thank Marieclaire McCabe, who joined me on all my research journeys and interviews and has been a cheerful and informative companion. And last but not least I owe big thanks to the rest of the ProjectBase team, Sharmila Cogger and Georgina Kennedy; the ProjectBase Interns, Dodie Bridges, Carey Harvey, Becky Haughton, Sarah Matthews, Sarah de Sainte Croix and Lizzie Waddling; and all the contributors, indeed everyone who took their time to meet with me and help me in my research. This publication would have not been possible without the funding of ProjectBase, the Arts Council England, and the Henry Moore Foundation. Thank you for your support!
1 This is a Cornish saying relating to the fact that Cornishmen emigrated to continents like Africa, Australia/New Zealand and the Americas where their skills as miners were needed. And with their expertise their Cornish culture is found around the world.
This magazine is printed with vegetable oil based inks on chlorine free paper made up of 80% recycled fibre and 20% virgin sustainable pulp.
Regina (Maria) Möller, 2007