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Mounts Bay Arts Trail


Mount’s Bay Coastal Path and Arts Trail is launched for EXPERIENCE Penzance!

In February 2022, Cornwall Council held a formal launch to celebrate the completion of the upgraded Penzance-Marazion route as well as the art installation Gwelen, by the award-winning artist Emma Smith. The Mounts Bay Coastal Path & Arts Trail was commissioned by the EXPERIENCE Project team at Cornwall Council.  

Mount’s Bay in Cornwall is home to an ancient, submerged forest, an enchanting phenomenon that is rarely seen, but occasionally uncovered at very low tides. The arts commission was based on this phenomenon and developed in consultation with the local community. A forest of wooden ‘seeing sticks’ has emerged along the Penzance to Marazion Coastal Path.

Named Gwelen – meaning stick or pole, ‘gwel’ also means view or vision and ‘gweles’ is to see – the artwork celebrates the power of collective and shared imagination. Gathered in groups along the path, the artwork creates the impression of clusters of trees, inviting the public to imagine the forest that was lost to the sea. Visitors to the path can sit, lean or rest on the sculptures and reflect on the bay, and its geological and ecological importance.

A series of podcasts with interviews and stories from local residents explore the rich significance of the bay. With guest contributions from local and international experts, these uncover the site’s history and the relationships between people and the landscape. You can hear our podcasts on folklore, marine history, geology, art, and stories of living and working with the sea and land here.

Over 600 local residents contributed ideas towards the creation of the sculptures – they were invited to share how they would like to sit or stand whilst imagining the forest along the coastal path. The artworks have been tailor made in response to their ideas and measurements. In addition, the sculptures draw inspiration from local tree forms found in the surrounding landscape.

The launch celebrated the Interreg FCE funded EXPERIENCE tourism infrastructure improvements in Cornwall.  The event was held along the trail itself and attended by over fifty local stakeholders including the Lord Mayor of Penzance, Jonathan How, with representatives of the local community in attendance.  Cllr Stephen Rushworth, portfolio holder for economy and Cllr Philip Desmonde, portfolio holder for transport both delivered speeches. The coastal path has fully reopened following work to improve its resilience and accessibility, as well as to create safe cycle and walking routes through car parks, encouraging more people to walk or cycle rather than travel the short distance by car.
The artist, Emma Smith, attended the launch and explained the process of creating the commission, as well as the background contextual information around the submerged forest in Mount’s Bay, all next to a cluster of sculptures.