‘Creativity on the Coast’ keeps Sidmouth’s fishing heritage alive

Creativity on the Coast Workshops at Exmouth College

Creativity on the Coast Workshops at Exmouth College - Credit: Archant

A creative collaboration of art and fishing has made waves in educating children about their coastal heritage.

Creativity on the Coast Workshops at Exmouth College

Creativity on the Coast Workshops at Exmouth College - Credit: Archant

Workshops led by Sidmouth artist Coco Hodgkinson take a unique, sensory approach to engaging and inspiring young people.

Alongside Mary and Kay Bagwell, of Sidmouth Trawlers, Coco is seeking to keep the town’s heritage alive for future generations.

The project was inspired by the success of the annual Sidmouth Sea Fest event – which celebrates the town’s coastal community – and after securing money from Devon Education Fund, was launched in schools in June 2015.

Now, eight months on, the Creativity on the Coast workshops have been dubbed a storming success.


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Under Coco’s guidance, pupils use the Japanese ‘Gyotaku’ technique of fish rubbing to make prints and participate in other arty activities, while Kay and Mary pass on their wisdom of the sea and its food source.

Kay said: “It is important – we want people to know about Sidmouth’s heritage. It was a fishing village and not enough people know about it. Pupils are loving it and getting very involved. Mum (Mary) does a talk and teaches them about the fishing industry and I do the cooking and filleting. I even have children who say they don’t like fish, but when they try it they love it – it’s because it’s fresh fish and not what they get from the supermarket.”

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Sidmouth Drill Hall director Louise Cole is project managing the Creativity on the Coast programme.

She said: “These workshops are a fantastic way to engage children and young people - from five to 18 years - to learn informally through art in a sensory way that inspires their curiosity about the coast, fishing, sustainable fish and the fisher heritage of their local community.

“We see the penny dropping for them about how this links to them through the opportunities they have in living by the coast.”

Sidmouth Drill Hall Hub Community Interest Company put in the initial proposal to Devon County Council for funding to run a series of 10 educational workshops in primary and secondary schools in coastal locations across the region.

Pupils from Beer Primary School, Sidmouth College, St John’s International School and the WESC Foundation, Exeter, are among those who have taken part in the workshops.

The Creativity on the Coast project will form part of a presentation on TourFish – an EU project to raise awareness of inshore fishing and responsible tourism - at Kennaway House on Wednesday, March 9, during Sidmouth Climate Week.

The event, from 6.30pm, is called TourFish: Making Coastal Communities Resilient.

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