As part of The (Future) Wales Coast Path, a year-long rural art project designed to encourage discussions around our changing landscape, two lighthouse structures are being unveiled in Newport and Magor this week.
Coinciding with the tenth anniversary of The Wales Coast Path, The (Future) Wales Coast Path project is a year-long series of events and installations investigating our relationship to land and water and how we might respond to rising sea levels on the Welsh coastline. The project’s free, family-friendly public programme of events begins on Wednesday the 27th of April with the unveiling of two lighthouse structures which will physicalise the future of our shoreline and highlight the habitats and communities that exist in the fragile space between past and future shorelines.
The lighthouses at the Riverfront, Newport and Magor Marsh will each react to tidal data from a buoy located in the Bay of Bengal, linking us to a community in the Indian Sundarbans where regular tidal inundation is already a reality. These lighthouses are a warning system, a navigation marker for the future and an indication that we are not alone and can learn from those at the frontline of the climate crisis.
Communities are invited to walk together from the current shoreline to the future edge of the land, to document, share stories, and begin conversations about the future of this place as we seek to acknowledge and adapt to our shifting coastline.
The project is led by local artist Alison Neighbour. ‘I wanted to physicalise this idea of impermanent land in the landscape itself, so that it can be felt in a way that a map or a newspaper article can’t offer,’ explained Neighbour. ‘The lighthouse is intended as a point of convergence, a place for encounter, and a site of pilgrimage, from the past shoreline to the future.’
Calcutta-based artist Vikram Iyengar is working on The (Future) Wales Coast Path project in collaboration with Neighbour. ‘I’m happy to be a partner on the project connecting communities in the Sundarbans delta with communities in Wales,’ he said. ‘Both regions are suffering from the impact of climate change to differing degrees, and creative conversations between them will be of immense value to understand our different contexts and circumstances and will enable us to build more empathetic transnational voices to tackle the climate crisis. We look forward to engaging with Welsh communities in deep, meaningful and mutually transformational ways during this project.’
The (Future) Wales Coast Path project is complemented by a programme of free events and conversations hosted by artists and scientists throughout the year, encouraging communities in Newport, Magor and the wider Gwent Levels to explore our relationship with sea and land through a range of creative and family-friendly activities. There will be opportunities for walking, making, gathering and connecting with communities in the Indian Sundarbans, who are at the frontline of rising sea levels today.
Neighbour is also coordinating an open call for local group leaders and community activists to volunteer, taking part in the project by becoming ‘Lighthouse Keepers’ and sharing creative activities with their own groups and networks. Those interested in becoming ‘Lighthouse Keepers’ can email firstname.lastname@example.org.