‘Sea of Stories’ is a ceramic mural that maps the Irish Sea between Wales and Ireland, telling the hidden histories of this space and the coastlines that it connects. Wildlife, wrecks and transatlantic cables all lie below the surface of the water, along with myths and memories. Combining words and striking images, Robert Jakes captures the richness of life on and beneath the waves through time, from Viking treasure to wartime history, with ecological insights and even a contemporary postcard by a local resident.
The work was commissioned by the project ‘Ports, Past and Present: Cultural Crossings between Ireland and Wales’, funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Ireland Wales Cooperation programme. This project focuses on the history and heritage of port towns around the Irish Sea, and aims to bring these towns together through their shared port heritage. It is jointly run by University College Cork and Wexford County Council in Ireland, and the University of Wales Trinity St. David and Aberystwyth University in Wales.
Each tile in the mural is the starting point for a bigger history or story around Pembroke Dock and the sea beyond. In 2006–7 Robert Jakes worked as an artist on the creation of plaques for the Pembroke Dock Town Trail. The ‘Ports, Past and Present’ project is also developing a new version of this trail as an app, augmenting the booklet with archive photography and additional information.
Many of the stories featured in the mural have been provided by the community, and ‘Ports, Past and Present’ is keen to hear more from local residents. If you have a piece of history you would like to share, you can email the team directly on [email protected], and learn more about their work on the website: https://portspastpresent.eu/
The launch was arranged with the helpful collaboration of staff at the terminal and the Port of Milford Haven, and Welsh project members were joined by colleagues from Ireland.
Project leader at UWTSD, Professor Mary-Ann Constantine, said: ‘Rob’s work is beautiful: like the old maps and sea-charts which inspired him, you can spend ages getting lost in its stories. We hope this mural will start all kinds of journeys of curiosity for passengers and community members who come to see it.’
‘Sea of Stories’ can be seen in the café area in the ferry terminal at Pembroke Dock, which is publicly accessible around the times of the ferry arrival and departure.
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