Film by Rachel Capovila.

“My socially-engaged practice mainly explores the discussion around the idea of identity and connection to place.  I am interested in how we view our community and to show that Barrow is more than just another industrial town.  As probably one of the last generations of the steelworks era, and strongly identifying as a ‘Barrovian’, I seek opportunities to communicate and celebrate our town’s unique point of view.”

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How my film came to be is not how I initially imagined when proposing my project. I found I wanted to include more of the people than the wildlife, as I had so much footage. I had so many conversations and heard stories that of course I could not include and wanted to give a ‘flavour’ sprinkled throughout. 

An image of two girls on Piel Island, each holding a dog. The sea behind them is blue and has some small boats on it. They are standing behind a thick wooden bench.

I was overwhelmed by the numbers of people on the walk and on the ferry trips. The ferryman Paul, and sands guide John, both so open and welcoming, deserve films just about what they do – and that will be my next project. Most people were happy to talk about how it felt to back out in the landscape and connecting with people. Of course, each and every one of them were excited and pleased to be there!

a group of people walking across wet sands, most people are in hats. A man in a red shirt is pointing to the ground and talking: he is the Sands Guide. Image taken from a film of people walking from the Furness Peninsula to Piel Island.

I had made a ‘zine’ that I handed out to each child or group with an explanation what its purpose was and explained why I was filming. The zine held information about the Artfulways project but also included some tips on what to do on Piel. The centre unfolded to become a cabinet of curiosities which invited people to display their found treasures on the walk, to then photograph and upload to social media. Many did collect and use the zine and take photographs, but did not go on to upload to social media. They were happy to take part in the moment, though, which in the end was a success to me.

eight seals lounging on a stony shore, with one of them half submerged in water. Image taken as a screenshot from the film Jaunt to Piel by Rachel Capovila

With Special Thanks from Rachel to: Paul Wilcock – Piel Ferry; John Murphy – Sands Guide; and all participants

Additional footage & drone: Nicos Nicholaides, Graham Tyson

For more about Rachel’s summer of journeys to Piel Island, visit her Piel Journeys page here.