This month marks the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower ship, which set sail from Plymouth to cross the ocean and “discover” America. While the past years have told a one-dimensional story, this year it examines the history of four nations from different perspectives, examines the experiences of those affected and tells of the ruthless consequences of colonization. Overall, it is a festival of different cultures and sensitizes us to better ways of life so that we can become more aware of our measures to protect our planet, our people and our ocean.
Read on to find out how our aquarium and our charity, the Ocean Conservation Trust, are getting involved this year:
Listen to the Atlantic, it’s talking to you
Art installation – NMA Plymouth Sound Zone
When visiting us, be sure to check out this art installation in our Plymouth Sound Zone. Created by Sarah Sense for the 400th anniversary of Mayflower, she was committed to doing something that talked to and about the Native North Experience at the time. Here’s what she had to say about it:
“The story in the UK is ingrained. The story is deeply rooted in North America. Between these two places is an ocean with stories of people moving between continents. As we celebrate Mayflower’s 400th Anniversary, communities in the UK and US are challenging colonial settlerism. Before the European conquests, the North American indigenous people were rich in people, resources, and culture. A process of colonization by the settlers changed the cultural and physical landscape of America. When asked to create a North American perspective for Mayflower 400, I decided to give the Native American people in the UK a reminder of what happened 400 years ago and bring that memory to the present for us to heal and The effects of colonization within indigenous communities and the environment can learn from this. Hear the Atlantic Ocean Speaking to You is a sound piece for participants to read aloud the names of Native American Algonquin people who died or went missing in London (1603-1630) around the time the Mayflower of Plymouth set sail. United Kingdom. As you look at this space between America and Britain, imagine words being carried back into the Native Americans with the waves. “
The text in the parabolic dish reads:
Does water have a memory like trees?
Can it remember the roots that drank it?
or the lungs it inhaled?
Can water remember ancestors the way land kept us in shallow graves?
I can feel the presence when I am near a
calm sea, rushing river or thundering ocean.
Bring me the calm and the violent memories.
Remind me of the past
Along with the names of the Algonquian visitors to London who never returned, 1603-1630
Photo credit: Wayne Perry
Speedwell Light Installation: ‘No New Worlds’
A new light installation at Mountbatten Breakwater explores issues related to colonialism, climate change and the legacy of Mayflower history. Here at the National Marine Aquarium we supported the project by spending some of our time talking to the artists about what the world could be like without the ocean. Here’s what our Conservation Education and Communications Director Nicola Bridge had to say:
“There is only one ocean that makes up 71% of the surface of our planet. Every drop of salt water is connected. Since there is only one ocean, all people are connected through it. The moment your toe is submerged, you are in the same area as millions of other people and where billions of others once were. The ‘Speedwell’ installation will mean a lot to many people, but for the Ocean Conservation Trust team it is deeply aligned with our vision of a healthy ocean that sustains all life. The ocean is currently facing unprecedented challenges, but if we treat the ocean well, all living things can thrive. We know that when we all work together to think of the ocean in our daily lives, it is not too late and we understand that the ocean is calling for our help. There are no new worlds. There is no new ocean.
The CO2 that is inevitably emitted by the structure will be offset through a future collaborative project with the Ocean Conservation Trust, in which the CO2 offset will be achieved by planting seaweed. “
You can find more information about Speedwell here.
Why not explore Plymouth by walking in the Pilgrim’s Footsteps? A brand new app with self-guided walking trails across Plymouth is now available for download. Visitors and locals alike have the opportunity to see the city through new eyes and learn about its complex history – and some of the trails bring you right to our door here at the National Marine Aquarium. The perfect outdoor activity to participate in on your way to us. It is a chance to see and experience Britain’s Ocean City like you have never done before.
The Plymouth Trails interactive app, which is free to download, includes three new bespoke trails:
- Mayflower Trail: Follow a circular route around the Barbican, see the buildings and meet the people who shaped the city in 1620 when the Mayflower ship and its passengers sailed to America
- City Center Trail: Discover a different side of the imposing post-war architecture in the city center and learn more about how the city was rebuilt after the Blitz during World War II
- Plymouth Hoe Trail: Enjoy a stroll along the coast as you immerse yourself in Plymouth’s maritime history and admire key landmarks like Tinside Lido and Smeaton’s Tower.
Click here for more information on our blog.
Image by Michael Mosimann from Pixabay
For more information on the Mayflower 400 anniversary, please visit the Mayflower400 website.