Helman Tor

Landscapes and identities of West Penwith and Helman Tor

A new project exploring the way people think and form ideas about their identity in relation to the landscapes of West Penwith and Helman Tor will be part of a touring photographic exhibition in Cornwall. 

Libraries in Bodmin, Truro and Penzance will host the exhibition on 17, 24 and 31 May will display elements of the project which was set up by undergraduate students in collaboration with Institute of Cornish Studies at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus.

The West Penwith project was carried out by History students Abi Stocker and Will Orchard, they looked at photographs and conducted oral interviews to assess the relationship of place and identity in modern day Cornwall.  Abi explained:“Talking to people in the area has been insightful for comparing outsider representations and local perspectives. We found that several themes recurred during the interviews, including a sense of home and belonging to iconic landmarks, such as St Michael’s Mount. This appeared to add to the collective and social understanding of place through memory.” Many of these perspectives linked into the wider context of Cornish identity and reflected the research involved in the University’s Cornish Story Programme.

Helman Tor is near Bodmin and the project for this area was conducted by History student Katie Taylor as part of her year-long placement scheme on the Public History module. It involved talking with various members of the Tor’s local community for local knowledge and through this close rapport Kate was able to discover the Tor’s rich past. By looking at autobiographies, archaeological reports and photographic collections the project was also able to explore the relationships between internal and external ideas and views of Cornwall.

Kate said:“Projects like Helman Tor and the one focusing on West Penwith are very important in recording local histories so that they can be exhibited and enjoyed by the wider public.”

The students hope that the exhibitions will be warmly received and promote a discussion between the public and the Institute of Cornish Studies based on personal memories.


Date: 12 May 2014

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