I am exploring the meaning of psycho-geography for myself, as it was suggested in the assignment brief. This could prove to be relevant to my project, as it is based on a place. Not just any place, but where I have lived for my whole life- a city rich in history.
In 1955 situationist Guy Debord said, “ the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organised or not, on the emotions and behaviour of individuals.”
According to the website psychogeography is, “ an informed and aware wondering, with continuous observation, through varied environments. It can be whatever the navigator was thinking at the time of travel.”
“It is the insight into my thinking that I chose to present.”
Ghost Writing- Writer Will Self says, “fashionable practice of walking around cities and suburbs as a kind of subversive act, summoning ghosts and making connections that pass the hurrying masses by.”
I like the idea of noticing the things within Plymouth that so often go unnoticed.
When using psychogeography I need to be, “attentive to my senses and emotions as they relate to place and environment.”
Consider what places attract me, and which places repel me- and why.
According to the film The Matrix, there is, “a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.”
An example of psychogeography:
Guy Debord, Guide Pychogéographique de Paris
“The unities of ambiance appeared on the map as fragments of commercial street maps carefully cut out to indicate each unity’s defenses and exits. The psychogeographic slopes were symbolized by red arrows indicating the forces the city exerted on drifters freed from other motivations for moving: drifters would be pulled in the direction of the arrows from one unity of ambiance to another. The weight, shape, and patterning of the arrows indicated the lengths and strengths of the psychogeographic slopes.” Wood “Lynch Debord.“
2011, Pollard,B. (Accessed on 17/03/14 at 1045).
- Known as one of the most popular naïve painters in the South West of England.
- He mainly paints seascapes of Devon and Cornwall. He is well known for his paintings of Smeaton’s Tower and the Dolphin pub.
- He retired as a psychiatrist in 2005, and pursued his love of art.
Personally I am not endeared to this kind of naive art,because I feel that there is not much meaning and emotion expressed through this kind of painting. I do like, however, like his striking use of colour and tones, and how he divides landscapes into sections. The simple shapes and use of colour bring to mind the Bauhaus School of Art, based in Germany.
I am unsure about whether or not I will feel inspired by any of Pollard’s work, but I will see as the project develops.
Defences around Plymouth
Source: Book- The Historic Defences of Plymouth
By Pye,A & Woodward,F. 1996: Cornwall County Council.
” The Plymouth area has one of the most extensive and complete groups of historical coastal fortifications in the United Kingdom.”
Having lived in Plymouth for my whole life, I have always been interested in the defence systems that were put in place to protect Plymouth. During a school trip I had the opportunity to explore the Hoe’s Royal Citadel. I remember being impressed by the big cannons and how strong the actual building was to have survived so many wars. I will look a bit further into Plymouth’s defences as I feel it is an important part of the local history of this famous port.
The Royal Citadel was built between 1665 and 1671. It was erected to protect the Cattewater anchorage and the approach to the proposed dockyard at Hooe Lake. It’s main purpose, however, was to protect the town’s loyalty to the crown. It was to replace Plymouth’s fort. It housed over 113 guns, with 40 in the lower fort.
In 1860 the Royal Citadel was considered to be of limited importance.It is now home to a commando regiment of the Royal Artillery. The internal design has changed greatly over the centuries.
Drake’s Island (formally known as St. Nicholas Island)
I have often wondered about the history of this island, and what it was used for. It was first fortified in 1548, until 1945. It was in a strategic position to protect the harbour, and later the dockyard. Previously Plympton Priory owned a chapel on the highest point of the small island. in the 1570′s a perimeter wall was built, with a gate house. In the 17th century the fort was used a prison. During world war II the present buildings were put in place, and was to be used at the head quarters of the Drake Fire Command. Following the war it was handed over to the National Trust, then Plymouth City Council. It was to become an adventure centre until 1989.
This site was fortified during World War II. Previous to this the Edgecumbe family built a block house to protect their harbour and the settlement at Stonehouse from raids by the French. It would have been built around the same time as the town wall. It is a heptagonal structure, with a grass roof.
A demolished battery was situated at Devil’s Point, in 1700 with eleven guns. The aim was to protect the dockyard approach, which had started to be built in the 1690′s. By 1779 it was no longer used. The coast line had remained the same since it was demolished, so chances are that the remains are below the surface somewhere. There are known to be have been three other batteries at Devil’s Point , battery B still stands in a fairly stable condition, and provides shelter.
I am interested in this particular place because many homeless people pass through here and I am considering basing my project on the plight of the homeless during World War II, especially those involved in the Plymouth Blitz. I have discovered that Plymouth, both in the past and the present, have many defences. Hence it would be near enough impossible in the duration of this project to mention each and every one.
Famous Plymouth Men
I thought that it would be relevant to find out about famous historical figures and see if I can find out any “hidden” history.
Source:Twelve Men of Plymouth by Gerald Hamilton-Edwards.
December 1951 Latimer,Trend & Co.Ltd, Plymouth
“The renown of Plymouth’s Tudor seamen is well known, but the cities contribution to the world of art during the latter half of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries is not nearly so widely realised or recognized.”
John Hawkins 1532-1595
His father was a sea captain and John Hawkins wanted to follow suit as a seaman.
Discovered black people in the Canaries and introduced them to the slave trade in the western parts of the world.
He travelled twice to abduct from west Indies and West Africa, in exchange for precious metals and pearls, with the Spaniards.
During the third trip they had to shelter in the Spanish Mexican port of San Juan de Ulea, Vera Cruz. The Spanish purchased the slaves on board, and then proceeded to attack the English fleet. Hawkins defended his fleet though, and despite some ships being destroyed escaped. The first boat to leave was the Judith commanded by Sir Francis Drake. Hawkins vessel could no longer carry all of the crew, so he decided to leave many of them on the Mexican shore, with no provisions and, “at the mercy of the Spaniards and natives.”
However, he did return to Mexico and successfully went back to rescue the men that had been left behind. He went on to befriend the king of Spain, Philip. This was so as to persuade King Philip to set the captives free.
Comptroller of the navy.
Developed the design of our ships, such as the revenge in 1577.
Member of the council of war at Plymouth. He was knighted.
His son was lost aboard the swallow against the Armada.
Hawkins and Drake were both to die on a shared trip, to try and find his son.
Sir Francis Drake 1541-1596
Drake island is named after this Elizabethan.
Born in Crowndale, near Tavistock.
First sailed to Africa and the Spanish Mainland.
Returned to Spain to reclaim what he had lost on the voyage with John Hawkins. It was during his time in Spain that he first saw the Pacific ocean, where he then decided he would like to go.
He returned to Plymouth on 9th August 1573. Those in St Andrew’s church came out to see all of the Spanish treasure that arrived with Drake. Family members would be reunited.
South seas through the Straits of Magellan, to seas that hadn’t yet been explored by the English.
Left for this journey, Plymouth on 13th December 1577.
Returned at the end of September .He had gone as far as the West coast of South America.
From finding out about these men, I feel that it may be possible to complete some work about the slave trade, and how Plymouth was to play a part in this. I could link this to the existing slave trade that is such an issue in today’s culture.