Ephemeral Coast South Wales


The bay of Swansea, which boasts stunning beaches that sit side by side with a significant industrial past and a commercial present, is an obvious choice for the location of one of the Ephemeral Coast exhibitions. It offers potential for so many facets of the project’s goals: a gallery situated in a maritime quarter, as well as the capacity to connect through geographic proximity and community to the cultures of the coast. Moreover, South Wales, along with the West of Wales and most regions in the South of England, have experienced startling changes to its weather patterns with record storm surges and flooding remapping the physical contours of the coastline with serious ramifications of how we conceptualize living on the coast.

The artists taking part have been chosen because they all currently employ ideas, themes and methods of exploration and mapping coastal culture and their associated ecologies; and all are concerned with practices of site-specificity. Each of the artists produced new work based on the curatorial premise of the exhibition: Stefhan Caddick, (Abergavenny, Wales) responds to the recent floods in the region with a diorama inspired by J.G. Ballard’s Drowned World, which alludes to nihilism, biblical floods as well as contemporary migrations; Fern Thomas’s (Swansea, Wales) From the Watchtower Radio Station will utilize sound recordings of her own performative practices of observing the sea as well as those of her community during the first half of the exhibition; while Julia Davis’ (NSW, Australia) video installation presents a comparative geography in which the artist positions herself ‘at the edge’ of an encounter – with natural wonder and its imminent ecocide. Meanwhile, Gemma Copp, a Swansea based artist has produced a video for ‘The Space’ in which she contemplates the breath of the sea and its figurative death. Comparative in scope, these works give rise to creative strategies for understanding new and uncertain coastal ecologies and the loss, resilience or metamorphosis of their associated cultures.

A catalogue of Ephemeral Coast – S. Wales will be published by punctum.books with contributions by Ian Buchanan, Director of the Institute of Social Transformation, University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia; Mary H. Gagen, Associate Professor of Geography and Climate Change, Swansea University and C3W; and Celina Jeffery.