For storytellers, creators, innovators and makers, the sea has long held an enigmatic power – inspiring new ideas, creating space for reflection, whipping up possibilities like salt spray in a storm.
This October we’ll be exploring the ocean’s potential and our relationship with it, taking a (voluntary!) dawn dip to awaken our senses, followed by some elemental inspiration from a handful of speakers who all see the sea as a driving force in their creative lives.
‘Dawn Days‘ photographers Nick Pumphrey and Warbey will be joining us and whoever else fancies taking bracing sunrise swim, before heading to @holan.collective to warm up with a delicious breakfast from Inanna’s Table and talks from a panel of brilliant speakers (see below) to fire you up as you start your day.
7am – 10am, Porthmeor Beach, St Ives. Buy tickets now.
Tickets are for breakfast and talks only, starting at 8am at Holan Collective. The dawn swim (from 7am onwards – whenever you can make it!) is optional. You don’t have to swim to attend!
Don’t worry if you can’t get to St Ives for the main event – we’ll also be inviting likeminds across the British Isles to brave the water and get cogs whirring, diving in at their own waterside locations before joining us online as we livestream the talks, readings and conversation. Find us on Instagram @strangercollective to tune in.
Speakers around our table include:
Georgie is the author of the fear-filled scuba diving memoir We Swim To The Shark, which was published in early 2020 and featured on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour. It’s a gripping tale of her decision to overcome her ichthyophobia (fish phobia) by learning to dive and swimming with a whale shark (the world’s biggest fish). During the first Covid-19 lockdown she founded the online ‘antiviral’ literary festival BookBound 2020, in aid of the mental health charities Mind (in the UK) and Changing Minds (in New Zealand). The festival archive remains accessible online for free. Along with fellow author Emma Byrne, Georgie now co-produces and co-hosts the nonfiction podcast NonFicPod.
A conservation biologist and photographer, Kaushiik (or @kaushman) aims to combine his passion for photography with a background in science, to bring attention to the plight of countless species that are on the edge of extinction. His work has been shortlisted for the British Photography Awards 2020 and 2021, and been published by BBC Earth and Oceanographic magazine. Inspired by the ocean and the life that lies within its depths, Kaush will be sharing some of his marine wildlife prints with us At First Light.
Sax is a British artist born in Penzance, Cornwall, currently working from the famous Porthmeor Studios. Since 2005, he has collaborated with cross-cultural, environmental art group Red Earth in the creation of site-specific installations including a multimedia performance at Trafalgar Square, London. In 2007, Sax was heralded in The Times as one of the ‘New Faces of Cornish Art’; going on to be featured in Owen Sheers’s BBC4 Documentary ‘Art of the Sea (In Pictures)’ in 2010 alongside Anish Kapoor, J. M. W. Turner, Martin Parr and Maggi Hambling. In 2020 he took part in ‘The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner : Big Read’ project alongside artists including Cornelia Parker, Marina Abramović, Derek Jarman and John Akomfrah, with readings from the likes of Jeremy Irons, Willem Dafoe, Hilary Mantel, Tilda Swinton, Iggy Pop, Marianne Faithfull and Alan Bennett. Sax’s paintings are in multiple collections worldwide, and have been exhibited everywhere from Saatchi Gallery, London to Erarta Museum, St Petersburg. His new solo show ‘Atlantic’ – inspired by his experience sailing thousands of miles in open ocean – runs at Anima Mundi gallery in St Ives until 23 October.
Tom is an award-winning novelist and short story writer living in south-west England. He’s an associate lecturer in creative writing at Plymouth University, where he gained his PhD. His second collection of stories is titled Dazzling the Gods and his new novel, Every Seventh Wave, is out now via Salt Publishing.
Fancy taking the edge off your inspiring dawn dip? Turning your trip to St Ives into an autumn getaway? Spending more time in the water and exploring the creative community at the beating heart of the town?
We’ve teamed up with the lovely folk at Glamping St Ives to offer glorious shepherd huts, hobbit holes and a vintage horsebox for people to stay in the night before At First Light (6 October), and the night after (7 October). Surrounded by green fields and with sweeping views out to the ocean, the site is a short drive (there’s parking at Porthmeor beach), or 30-minute walk down the hill into St Ives, so you can get out of bed later and to our venue easily.
Each hut and box is perfectly appointed to keep you snug before and after the event, an ideal retreat for some solace or writing time, a mini workstation or a little break from the everyday punched through with At First Light creative stimulation.
Outside each bolthole there’s space to sit, ponder and admire the view, firepits and burners to keep you warm and a shared shower block and kitchen space to prepare your own food. And there’s even a wood-fired hot tub and sauna to chase off any chills.
We’re taking over the whole Glamping St Ives site for 6 and 7 October, so when you’re not whiling away the hours shoreside, you’ll be surrounded by likeminds and a creative spirit.
Because we need space for speakers and crew to stay, we only have 5 spaces available, so it’s first come first served. We’ll introduce a waiting list if there’s higher demand.
You can buy a ‘Swim and Stay package’ ticket, which includes accommodation for two for Wednesday 6 October and general attendance tickets x 2.
For those who want to prolong their seaside stay and extend their accommodation booking for another night, book a ‘Swim and stay extension’ ticket, which allows you to stay in your chosen spot for Thursday 7 October too.
To avoid oversubscribing, the ‘Swim and stay extension’ ticket (double or bunk bed) is only valid with a ‘Swim and stay package’ ticket.
You’ll be staying in either a shepherd’s hut, hobbit hut or vintage horsebox, each one charmingly kitted out, with all linen included, plus kettle with tea and coffee and a radio.
Header and feature image, copyright Nick Pumphrey, @nickpumphreyphoto