Between the Sea and Thee

A multi-media exploration of liminality along the Morecambe Bay coastline.

For some time I have been fascinated by ‘liminality’ – a term derived from the Latin ‘limen’ meaning ‘threshold.’ In particular, I have been spellbound by the liminality of Morecambe Bay’s coastline; a zone in between sea and land that is constantly changing due to the powerful tidal shifts that occur twice daily. The area is known for its outstanding beauty as well as its considerable peril and can sometimes have an eerie quality to it  especially if you are alone. It is at once sea and not-sea, land and not-land. I see this liminal zone as a metaphor for the shifts and transitions we experience in life.

I spent several months exploring Morecambe Bay’s dangerous and beautiful coastal region, sometimes at night or at dawn. I have considered how I have been affected by the location and how fantasy, expectation and reality inform my perception. Adopting a logging methodology originated by environmental dance artist Jennifer Monson – and later developed by Monson with choreographer Nigel Stewart – I notated the transitional phenomena of the Bay. I then began to film and record what I experienced and observed, slowly gathering and selecting materials for analysis and experimentation. Back in the studio I composed multiple ‘collages’ of audio, video, photography and other media. Gradually, through a process of testing and critique, the material started to become more focused and distilled; at times moving between representation and abstraction, the microcosmic and the boundless expanse.

From this experimentation, I produced a 3-room immersive installation; the liminal space of the sea shore coming to stand metaphorically for a space ‘betwixt and between’ dream and reality. Each room is based on a different area of this vastly beautiful sea-land, with its treacherous sands and galloping tides. Each takes inspiration, too, from a different phase of liminality as defined by anthropologist Van Gennep. Gennep understands liminality as a process where conventional structures are broken down, and through which transformation may occur. Phase one involves a separation from and breakdown of pre-understood constructs and behaviours, phase two is for transition and transformation, and the third a period of reincorporation and reconciliation where new possibilities are formed. Each room is designed to evoke an emotional response relating to its particular location and one of the three phases of liminality. Altogether the work seeks to embody and stimulate a sense of the tidal pull, the perpetual shifting of sea-sifted sands between life and death, land and sea, thee and me.