Public Art – and so much more

Early on during the project, a critic asked “Why does Falmouth need a sculpture?” That’s a question which deserves a considered response. It encouraged us to analyse how the presence of a large, iconic public art form will impact on the local community and the wider area in a way that would not happen without it. The aim is for many more people to engage with art than would be the case without it.

In completing the project, The Oyster Sculpture Trust will be demonstrating how these basic principles can be adopted to design and facilitate other bespoke-theme community-led public art sculpture projects in other national and international locations.

The small team has worked, on a voluntary basis during 2013 and 2014 to develop the project. It has worked with key contributors to create complementary educational programmes – some of which ran during the development period, some of which will run during the building of the sculpture and some beyond its completion. Those programmes ongoing will be driven by a suitable community trust.

Objectives of The Trust:
  • To facilitate the making of the sculpture known as ‘The Oyster’ for wider community benefit.
  • To develop and execute a viable ‘Awareness Educational Programme’ based around skills employed in the making and the installation of the sculpture.
  • To liaise with educational and other establishments, e.g. the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, The Falmouth Art Gallery, Cornwall College, University of Falmouth, the Cornish Oyster Fishing Industry and World Oyster Society in the development of relevant educational initiatives across different age ranges, aimed at raising awareness of the marine environment and Ostrea Edulis, the native oyster – in particular, The Protected Designation of Origin, ‘Fal Oyster’.
  • Educational workshops specific to The Oyster Sculpture as a focal point:
    • Delivering museum-based  children’s activities with the museum’s cooperation 
    • Showcasing to visitors the real Cornwall marine environment, including tides etc
    • Showing how art and engineering can work together in collaboration for the public good
    • Bringing together groups from within the county and beyond, to learn about the sculpture and the educational projects, including delivering curriculum-based work, plays and songs etc
    • Helping support, promote and participate in the Falmouth Oyster Festival
    • Establish an oyster hatchery project for educational and research purposes
    • Facilitate the gifting of The Oyster Sculpture to the town of Falmouth

Local schools, Cornwall College, Falmouth Marine School, The University of Falmouth, The National Maritime Museum Cornwall, Falmouth Festivals, Falmouth Art Gallery, Holifield Farm Project, Marine Engineers, Visit Cornwall, The Duchy of Cornwall Oyster Farm, The World Oyster Society and many retail businesses are set to benefit from the focus this 9 metre high moving sculpture will bring to the area.

A growing awareness of the environmental contribution to be made by oysters, has opened the way for Falmouth, UK to become an internationally recognised centre for oyster research. In New York Harbour, USA, a ground-breaking project is underway to introduce one billion oysters over a 20 year period. The project is exposing young people and urban communities to the importance of this small creature’s environmental contribution as well as its reputation as a high-nutrient food source. Encouraged by The Trust, discussion is underway for a version of that project to be replicated in the UK by Falmouth Marine School.


A Cornish Icon

The Ostrea Edulis, European Native Flat Oyster, is an iconic part of Cornish culture with its epicentre in the historic harbour town of Falmouth.

For many years, fishing, including related maritime activities and traditional skills, has experienced a decline. Local communities have seen their livelihood disappear and their proud heritage diluted by the rise of a leisure-driven economy.

The native oyster, a crucial keystone species, a marine mollusc that few ever see living in the wild, will be brought to prominence by the arrival of this striking public art sculpture, presenting opportunities for raising the profile of the oyster’s community heritage.

The Fal Oyster is a standard bearer for sustainable fishing. As a source of nutrient-rich food, the oyster also has the ability to filter and clean tidal waters adversely affected by human activity, particularly in large natural harbours and estuaries around the world. This  heralds an exciting new opportunity for Falmouth to deliver international impact.

Funded by monies earmarked for Public Projects, and also from corporate and private donations, the sculpture will be gifted to the town of Falmouth via The Oyster Sculpture Trust.

Good art tells a story – this sculpture, via activities initiated by The Trust and other stakeholders, will offer new opportunities in performing, story telling, learning, research, education, commerce and manufacturing, triggered by the its presence in Falmouth.

As well as an educational and cultural centrepiece, the sculpture could join the ranks of internationally recognised public art, bringing visitors from all over the world, boosting tourism, business and awareness of the unique Fal Oyster fishery.

During initial project research in 2012, oyster shells shown on this page were given to Andrew Nicholls by a Fal Oysterman as inspiration for design of the sculpture.