The outline of this story was pitched to me as follows: fishermen with shotguns, locals squatting on yachts and taking heroin, rough pubs full of fishermen with missing digits and tales people going missing down mineshafts in ‘unfortunate’ disappearances. ‘Are you interested?’
(Top images: Stacey ‘Shouty’ Edgecombe, and the coastal village of Mousehole)
Cornwall, October 2016. The Sunday Times Magazine asked me to head down to the South West to take pictures to accompany an article about life in Cornwall once the tourists and second home owners had gone home for winter. The writer for this piece, Gavin Knight, has written a book about the gritty life of fishermen in Cornwall, the difficulties of making ends meet and many dales tales of life on and offshore.
I went to meet Gavin at his house ahead of travelling down the M5 and beyond. We sat and discussed the protagonists in the book, and who may be the best people for me to go and meet during my trip – and a few days later, armed with a copy of his book ‘The Swordfish and The Star’, I was on my way.
The principle task was to meet and photograph a handful of the characters we had discussed, and to make a series of other pics to accompany the portraiture. I spent three days driving around the lanes, I had fishermen sing me sea shanties, and heard fisherman’s tales whilst drinking in the book’s namesake, The Swordfish. Once upon a time it was named as the fourth worst pub in the country, so I decided to stay the night.
In the images above you can see Curly (left) who lives on his boat around Penryn, and on the right there is Ben Gunn (l) and Stacey Edgecombe (r) – both these two were fishermen but have had to find other ways to make money. Ben is an artist, whose business card stipulates a phone number and a line saying ‘or ask in the Swordfish’. They were all brimming with stories, the article touches on them, but the book tells it well.
You can read more about Gavin’s book, or to find out how to buy a copy by clicking this link.
The image below is firstly the village of Cadgwith – and to the right is Nutty Noah who lives nearby. No longer a fisherman, he is both an artist and taxi driver (http://www.nuttynoah.co.uk). If you’re lucky he might sing for you.