Reception and Presentation

This was always going to be an evening of exultation and intrepidation I had every confidence in Kitty Dough (who designed the invite), Larry Warner the exhibits curator and all of the staff and volunteers at the Aquarium; I just had to make sure I didn’t mess it up!
I had made a practice run of the presentation a few days earlier. This was taking place in the perfect location. I was to share the room with a 285,000-gallon shark tank ”Graveyard of the Atlantic” that’s 35-foot long and 14 feet tall. As well as the sharks, and numerous smaller fish which sometimes become dinner, the  tank holds a 1/3 scale replica of the USS Monitor, which lies just off Cape Hatteras at a depth of 210 feet. The room is essentially lit by the dull blue glow coming through the 5.5 inch thick acrylic window of the tank. The projector screen seemed massive, like a small cinema, and combined with the powerful projector made my images look awesome. I spent a lot of time getting used to a wireless mouse because I was using Adobe bridge for the slideshow which enabled me to use big files and zoom right into the images.

Meeting and greeting was at 6pm around the exhibition cabinets. This helped to guage the interest level and questions my audience might have; and calmed my nerves. There was a great spread of Anglo/American food available that had either been bought from the next State that likes to call itself a commonwealth, or homemade like the scones.

7pm was the presentation. Kitty introduced me to the audience numbering 50+. The talk was far more than my photographs, although there was a fascination in the way I construct my images from as many as 100 seperately taken frames. This exhibition, to me, had always been about introducing Manteo to it’s twin town through it’s surrounding coast, river and, originally shared, history. Using old maps, the North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty map and Richard Larn’s shipwreck map, I took my audience on a journey from Marsland Mouth on the border with Cornwall, along the Hartland coast, across Bideford Bay, up the Torridge into Bideford, around Saunton Sands to Baggy Point, along to Briery Cave at Watermouth, into Combe Martin and it’s caves which were mines; and finished off on the Exmoor coast at Wringapeak, near to the Somerset border.

It was supposed to be a half hour presentation and in practice it had been 45 minutes to I had vowed to cut it shorter. But, when I get excited I can’t stop; so it was more like 50 minutes, plus questions which were many. Nobody seemed to mind the length except perhaps my ever supportive wife Sadie who had been gesticulating ‘cut it’ and ‘wind it up’ but I hadn’t noticed! Sadie is also credited for all of these photographs.


I?m sometimes blinded into thinking that our beaches are relatively clean. The places I go are exposed to such a punishing surf that little detritus is left. Sometimes there?s a fishing float, tyre or rusting side of a ship lodged permanently into the back wall of a cave but the rocky shoreline can appear scoured clean with every tide. Westward Ho!, my local sandy beach also fools you into thinking that litter is a thing of the past. That is until you see it at the end of a summers day after the holidaymakers have gone. On-shore-drift makes a fine job of moving the crisp packets, beer cans, and discarded beach toys down to Saunton Sands and the fortnightly spring high tide makes a good job of finding the neatly hidden plastic bags and polystyrene cups pushed into holes on the pebble ridge or held under a stone. We?ve learnt to recycle so well now that we even crush up the water containers so they take up less space. I?ve even heard visitors ask why there are no bins on the beach having no comprehension that at high tide there is no beach; but this doesn?t stop piles of rubbish being neatly stacked together as if to say ?We believe this would make a good place for a bin!?

How difficult is it “take your rubbish home with you”? Another question would be “Is anyone ever prosecuted for dropping litter?? I?m sure we could find a few cases but how about ?Has anyone ever been prosecuted for letting a helium balloon fly off, or a lantern for that matter?? I will end up on a beach eventually.

At least this cream bottle served a purpose as a useful floating home. I threw it back into the sea so hopefully these goose barnacles survived!