background, structure, locations, funding and events
Update February 2007
"If Ever You're in the Area" was initiated by artist and letterer Bettina Furnee in 2004. The project involved the production of a body of gallery works, as well as a series of temporary and text-based, site-specific installations. All activities were led by Bettina Furneé with the collaboration of writers and poets Tony Mitton and Simon Frazer. The project arose from an interest in the memory of war, and issues of migration, identity and fear of violent attack. Bettina Furnee grew up in The Hague, Netherlands, and migration to England was significantly made past two historic coastal defence lines of bunkers on either side of the North Sea.
‘Ambiguous text-based artworks that reveal society’s deepest paranoias’ - The Guardian
The gallery works of "If Ever You're in the Area" relate to the memory of war and death and also explore some of the customs and rites we have devised to endorse and protect ourselves and our morality at important moments of change. These works were exhibited at firstsite @ the minories, Colchester, 18 June - 23 July 2005, and at the Naze Tower, Walton-on-Naze, 10 June - 16 July 2006.
The first five site specific works of "If Ever You're in the Area" were installed, over different periods of time during 2005, at the site of first and second world war military installations and Martello Towers at East Lane, Bawdsey, Suffolk. East Lane is adjacent to Bawdsey Manor, where radar was developed during the second world war. A coastal foot path leads two miles north past various military remains to Shingle Street, of the rumoured German invasion attempt of 1940 (details: James Hayward, The bodies on the Beach; Sealion, Shingle Street and the Burning Sea Myth of 1940, Dereham, 2001, ISBN 0-9540549-0-3). To the south of Bawdsey lies Landguard Fort, built to protect the busy sea route to Felixstowe and Harwich. The land and military structures at East Lane are under severe threat of coastal erosion; making the sea an imminent invading force.
‘Tide of erosion engulfing our coasts’ - East Anglian Daily Times
The first work to appear at East Lane, Bawdsey, was "Lines of Defence": 38 flags spelling SUBMISSION IS ADVANCING AT A FRIGHTFUL SPEED were placed on fast eroding cliffs. The demise of the work and loss of 17 metres of land were captured and web cast every 15 minutes throughout 2005. The work can still be viewed using the archive of 35,000 stills. The next works installed at East Lane were "Prisoner of War" and "Lost on the Beach (balloon)" in spring and summer 2005, followed by "Teeth come to the eyes" and "Lost on the Beach (buoy)". The production of these works was supported by oral history and information days in Bawdsey, and a public response call ‘found a flag?’ in 2005.
Under the shared name of ‘Lines of Approach’ a new series of work was produced to complement the exhibition of gallery works at the Naze Tower, across the Essex border, in 2006. The tower is situated on fast eroding cliffs at a local beauty spot with beaches and walks, with Bawdsey visible across the Stour/Orwell estuary from the top of the tower. The Naze Tower was built in 1720 as a navigational tower, and was used for military purposes in a variety of ways, most recently as a radar post and communications centre. During the second world war the Royal Navy constructed the sea fort Roughs Tower eight miles off the coast of Walton. It was abandoned and in 1967 occupied by a pirate radio group, who never broadcast but later declared it the independent Principality of Sealand, with its own currency, Royal family, passports and visa requirements (www.sealandgov.com). Sealand is visible from the Naze on a clear day.
‘I KNOW all the sea cadets thoroughly enjoyed Saturday’- Adrian Farthing, Felixstowe unit sea cadets ‘A great programme for us’ - Ian Wyatt, BBC Radio Essex
Site-specific work "Think/Wave" appeared as a rope ladder suspended from the Tower during the exhibition period. "Standing Wave" is a short video piece (with Robin Garton) showing the message WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR being signalled from the Naze Tower to Sealand and back, made with local assistance and access to Sealand. On 1st July 2006 ‘If Ever You’re in the Area’ culminated in an event staged at the Naze Tower “Lines of Approach” accompanied by “Lost on the Beach-live” with a public response call ‘Found a balloon?’). ‘Lines of Approach’ was broadcast live 2-4pm by Steve Scruton and Ian Wyatt of BBC Radio Essex. An attempt was made to signal a series of messages from the Naze to Sealand using semaphore and a relay of boats, with the help of sea cadets of Harwich, Felixstowe and Walton Units, Wildlife Trips and the Maritime Volunteer Service. The event was co-organized by Michelle Nye-Browne (director Naze Tower) and Tony O’Neil (Harwich Wireless Museum). Tony O’Neil and Robin Garton also produced oral history recordings supporting and documenting the works and reminiscence events at the Naze in 2006.
The exhibition at the Naze Tower presented the first screening of the 32 minutes film of "Lines of Defence" made by Tim Sidell/Bettina Furnee with sound design by Nick Ryall.
The opening night of the exhibition saw the launch of the publication of "If Ever You're in the Area" by firstsite, a 48 page book with illustrations of all works and an essay by Elizabeth Fisher, exhibitions organiser, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge. The book contains a DVD with the 32 minutes film of "Lines of Defence" and "Standing Wave", and is available from Cornerhouse Publications (www.cornerhouse.org/publications).
The project has been divided in three phases for funding purposes. Phase One (the production of seven gallery works) and phase Two (the production of five site-specific works in 2005 at East lane, Bawdsey) have been funded, with all associated activities, by the Arts Council of England, East (ACEE) under the Grants for the Arts scheme, with partnership funding from Home Front Recall, Big Lottery Fund. Funding for phase Three, the production of new works surrounding the exhibition in 2006 of 'If Ever You're in the Area' at the Naze Tower, Walton-on-Naze, and a publication in co-production with firstsite, has been received from ACEE and Essex County Council.
This project is financially and in kind supported by firstsite @ the minories, Colchester, and has received additional funding from ACEE for marketing purposes.
Project marketing and additional fundraising by Michelle Nye-Browne.
Publicity material by FifteentenDesign, Colchester.
Thank you, to the communities involved.