Posts Tagged ‘Tourism’
It’s surprisingly busy in St Ives at the moment. The Seafood Cafe on Fore Street was full on Tuesday night. The taxi driver at the station (the one who took pity on me and gave me a lift from St Erth in the cold rain after the last branch line train had gone and her booking didn’t turn up) said she thinks there are a few coach trips. The two holiday flats in the square have been empty since I moved in, but the one across the way in Fore Street has had guests since last week.
There seem to be a lot of holiday lets around the Square. I couldn’t see anybody elses’s rubbish out when I put mine out to be collected last week. In some ways, this is a bit sad. It’s very quiet at night, and I can feel the emptiness. Sometimes it’s reassuring to know that there’s somebody, just though the wall. There are people who live over the arch into the square, as I’ve seen lights sometimes, but I haven’t seen them. I haven’t seen any lights on in the buildings that back on to my house. Although, I thought I heard a baby crying faintly through the wall in the early hours once. The emptiness is also a joyful thing; when I want to listen to my records loudly, I’m glad that I’m not bothering anyone. At least, I don’t think so. I’m sure someone will let me know.
It’s been a really busy week, with not much sleep owing to my apparently unfortunate luck with airbeds. After breaking the valve in the first one, and failing to fix it, I wearily bought a replacement airbed. Luckily, Colenso’s Hardware, run by the deputy Mayor, sells pretty much everything I can think of needing that isn’t edible or wearable. The new one was blissfully comfortable for almost a week. Then it also started to slowly go down in the night, eventually lowering me to the floor before six o’clock in the morning.
I only moved in two weeks and one day ago, but living here has had a surprisingly immediate effect on my research. As I’d been in to Colenso’s every day last week with my tales of airbed woe, requiring vegetable peelers, gaffer tape and tape measures, picture hooks and wire, I got chatting to Colin, the Deputy Mayor of St Ives. As well as running the shop for the last forty five years, and being Deputy Mayor, he also sits on the board of trade and commerce, of which his wife is chair, and he has a great deal of interesting things to say about the town. He also agreed to be interviewed, which I look forward to once I’ve pinned him down.
I went to Lanhams to drop off the spare keys that I’d borrowed to get a sofa delivered last Friday (a relief to have something other than the floor to sit on, which is a story in itself. The second-hand furniture shop in St Ives is run by extremely nice people) and lovely Bev, (Special Constable and lettings agent) had a long list of people that she suggested I interview. There followed much discussion on stories and gossip in St Ives, which was fascinating. I’m intrigued by the goings-on in Piazza-Barnaloft, and one-eyed Tony, and things I’m not going to repeat here. I imagine I may not be able to use some of these interviews for ethical reasons, but I’ll certainly enjoy the process of interviewing. It’s interesting to build up a picture, or diagram, of the connections (and disconnections) between people and places, the way that community works (and doesn’t work) here.
I am developing an obsession with guidebooks. I’m particularly fond of the little fold out maps. They contain opinions and advice on the nature of place and encounters with place.
The idea of sites for painting becoming sights for people to come and look at through the circulation and distribution of images is interesting. A site is somewhere artists come to paint, the site becomes a scene, tourists come to see the site of the scene, the scene becomes a picture postcard, more tourists come to see the sights/sites. This is something pointed out by Lubbren, that the art colony is a precursor to the holiday resort, where artists make a place known for its particular beauty, then the images of that place become known, which attracts people to visit. In turn also, the presence of the artists mean the development of facilities to meet their needs, which are developed further to accommodate the needs of tourists.
Thus that one scene, perhaps one moment, of local life, might be translated into a series of other moments, many of which would later be sent out into the world, to be hung in galleries, reproduced in books, and so on. And because of seeing those results, all kinds of people might be tempted to visit the place that inspired them.
Denys Val Baker, Britain’s Art Colony by the Sea 1959 p.22
So, back to the guidebooks. The images of Cornwall and St. Ives produced by artists which in turn attract other visitors are interesting, but a textual version of these images come in the form of the guidebook. The earliest one that I have stumbled across in a second-hand bookshop in London is Black’s Guide to Dorset, Devon and Cornwall. Published in 1877, its tenth edition, it pre-dates the first ideas of art colony in the county. The theory that it is indeed the artists which establish place as tourist site/sight, endowing a place beauty, making it attractive/attraction, is perhaps best illustrated by the short piece on St. Ives from Black’s:
The position of St. Ives, [...] is one of picturesque and uncommon beauty,; and it is to be regretted that the favourable impression which at first the tourist necessarily forms should be dissipated on his entrance into the town by its accumulation of nastiness. The streets are narrow and crooked; the shops mean and squalid; and everywhere pervades a fishy smell, “most tolerable, and not to be endured”.
Black’s Guide to Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, 1877
As David Tovey points out in his survey of early guides in St Ives Art Pre-1890: The Dawn of the Colony, visitor accounts refer to St. Ives as being disorderly and putrid-smelling, and some even recommend avoiding the town completely. 1877 is the year that the branch line is completed, during a decade which sees the beginning of a decline in the fishing and mining industries.
Western seaside resorts are multilayered places, redolent with meaning for the present and memory of the past.
Seaside architecture, combined with a multiplicity of images related to the seaside, define its meaning and consumption.
Discussion of arguments surrounding the perception and consumption of nature. Can nature be consumed? If not, how is it used, experienced, represented, perceived?
The visual sense was increasingly hegemonic in the sensing of the natural world, and nature, including the sea, was transformed in to an overridingly visual spectacle. In turn , the fundamental process of tourist consumption became capturing the gaze, each one of which could ‘literally take a split second’. Everything else in the tourist experience and tourist services was relegated as subsidiary.
Once the middle and working classes were able to holiday by the sea, one persistent conflict revolved around whether resorts were select and respectable or popular and open to all comers. … A higher social tone could be attempted, for example, by resisting the the freeing of restrictions on bathing, entertainment and transport that might lure working class visitors and opposing the development of facilities, including piers in the second half of the nineteenth century and holiday camps in the interwar period of the next century, thought to endanger a resort‘s reputation by making it more popular.
Buying a room in a hotel, a ticket for a seaside attraction or simply sunbathing on a beach [also] involves buying into a more general idea of the seaside or a particular resort. We consume a reality and an image, and the two may not match.