One of the UK’s longest public mosaic artworks
installed at Robin Hood’s Bay,
190 million years of the Bay’s history
represented on 50 square metres of mosaic
1 December 2016
A vast piece of art, ‘The Story of Bay – Footprints through Time’, believed to be one of the longest public mosaic artworks in the UK, has been installed on the sea wall at Robin Hood’s Bay.
The artwork, comprising 50 mosaic panels, has been commissioned by the North York Moors National Park Authority, to cover a 125-metre stretch of parapet adjacent to a path that visitors follow to reach the popular village.
In total, 50 square metres of mosaic have been created by artist Ruth Wilkinson in her North Yorkshire studio at Pateley Bridge and the panels took three days for the National Park to erect this week.
This is the largest commission undertaken by Ruth who has spent 15 months designing and creating the panels using 300,000 tiles known as tesserae.
Drawing on ideas contributed by residents of the village, visitors, local artists and historians, the mosaic storyboard leads visitors on a journey through the village’s 190-million history.
Emulating the journey, Ruth has adopted a footprint theme throughout starting with those belonging to Jurassic dinosaurs coming out of the sea. The final panel depicts human prints and diving flippers heading back into the water with a saying: “Stepping back into the source of life from which we came...”
Other sections of the artwork feature notable points in history such as the shipwrecks, the heyday of smuggling and the development of the railway, which have all left their mark on the village’s character today.
Village life, including the close-knit community created by fishing families knitting ganseys for the fishermen in days gone by, and the memories that people have of living in and visiting Robin Hood’s Bay have also provided a rich source of inspiration.
One panel incorporates a host of mementoes, including plastic Minions donated by pupils at nearby Fylingdales C of E VC Primary School, an old nappy pin provided by a lady who had visited Robin Hood’s Bay as a toddler, small items of jewellery and a heart-shaped stone collected on the beach and etched on one surface with a couple’s initials.
Visitors will also be able to read about other people’s impressions of Robin Hood’s Bay while they sit having a drink at the nearby Swell Café through a series of four mosaic panels decorated with images of the sea and the shore. Quotes include: “An immense sense of belonging to the soil and the sea and the sky.”
The artwork is being funded through the Coastal Communities Fund as part of the ‘Sea Life, See Life’ project.
Preparation for installation began back in June when the National Park painted the sea wall. Each panel will be fixed to boards that will enable them to be taken down and replaced if a section of the wall needs to be maintained, prolonging the life of the artwork.
Emily Watson from the North York Moors National Park Authority commented: “It is fantastic to see the artwork finally being installed and becoming a permanent feature of the village.
“The mosaic will be a talking point for visitors, providing them with a snapshot of the village’s rich heritage as well as giving them a great insight into the sense of place and character of today’s Robin Hood’s Bay which they can immerse themselves in and enjoy.”
The Coastal Communities Fund ‘Sea Life, See Life’ project is being delivered by the North York Moors National Park Authority.
The Coastal Communities Fund is funded by the Government, with income from the Crown Estate's marine assets. It is delivered by the Big Lottery Fund on behalf of UK Government and the Devolved Administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
The ‘Sea Life, See Life’ project covers a 36-mile stretch of coastline from Saltburn to Cloughton, just north of Scarborough, the majority of which is within the North York Moors National Park. This section of the coastline includes Staithes, Runswick Bay, Sandsend, Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay.
The North York Moors is a beautiful landscape of stunning moorland, spectacular coast, ancient woodland and historic sites. Created on 28 November 1952 it became Britain’s sixth national park.
Covering an area of 554 square miles (1,436 square kilometres) the National Park has 26 miles of coastline, two visitor centres, two national nature reserves, 840 Scheduled Monuments and over 3,000 listed buildings, attracting an estimated 7.6 million visitors a year. The Authority works with a huge variety of people to care for this beautiful corner of Yorkshire with nearly 14% of staff being apprentices from local families. For more information go to www.northyorkmoors.org.uk