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Count your blessings

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We travelled the lanes, visited the churches and chapels, the institutes and community hall, the school, farms, pub, post office, fields and cliffs.

The storms and gales dictated where we went and what we did. We got to know the lay of the land. Then we started to meet the inhabitants. We held a tea party at the school. We invited the people of the Parish of Morwenstow to tea parties and asked them to bring their memories, their photographs, their home movies… In the depths of Cornish winter we asked Morwenstow to counts its blessings, one by one.

We made shrines to the things people valued: soil, roots, cattle; this is, after all, a place where small farms have clung to the hills for millennia. We placed them around the village as small windows into memory and imagination. We asked people to take us on a number of walks to places they loved. We made a film of these journeys: cliff paths, huge horizons, fields so steep they had to be abandoned after tractors replaced horses, the ancient churchyard where both farmers and shipwrecked sailors sleep together.

The project ended with a community party and film show. As well as the film we had made ourselves, we had found an archive film of the area from 1944. This was an extraordinary celebration of memory and pride of place. Participants enjoyed watching films featuring their friends and landscape, they spent a long time perusing the children’s work, peering into memory boxes identifying friends and relatives as well as their younger selves.