An evolving project
Having engaged with representatives of the community and other stakeholders, the project has grown to embrace more than just a sculpture. Following the unsuccessful application to Arts Council England for part-funding of The Oyster Sculpture, the team was faced with two options – either to drop the idea and walk away or accept the challenging advice from professionals and other stakeholders who said, “It needs to be more than just a sculpture”.
Within The Oyster Team are the skills and determination to listen to the people of Falmouth and to create an outcome which helps address the need for regeneration of forgotten parts of their town and its maritime culture. The Oyster Project could be the catalyst for that outcome.
The inspiration for the project has not changed – to raise awareness of the importance of oysters – in particular The European Native Oyster, known locally as the Fal Oyster, with its rich heritage and still living in the Fal Estuary.
Other locations for the sculpture would not be ruled out – it could be part of a comprehensive World-class Oyster-themed Experience but must incorporate other elements identified in the The 2017 Falmouth Neighbourhood Development Plan
- Public ‘Boardwalk’ Promenade right of way linking The Prince of Wales Pier and Church Street Car Park
- Improved Ferry Access
- Refurbishment of The PoW Pier
- Decontamination and regeneration of The Church Street Car Park (ex-gas works) site
- Additional marina capacity accessed from The Church Street (Gas Works) Car Park site
The team have worked on a voluntary basis from 2013 to date. Key stakeholders have influenced its direction. The project is a trigger for educational programmes – some of which during the development period, some of which during the building of the project and some beyond its completion. Cornwall College Students from the Camborne Campus helped create a 1/8th scale model of the sculpture, which was presented for public consultation at The 2013 Oyster Festival before being displayed for 18 months by The National Maritime Museum Cornwall. In April 2016 it ‘came home’ to Cornwall College to be put on display in the foyer of The Marine School, 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 local businesses are set to benefit from the focus this project would bring to Cornwall.
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. 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 iconic facility, 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.
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.