Do Sea Slugs Eat Sea Lettuce...?

By Karen Pereczes  

As appeared in Pembrokeshire Life magazine. Copyright Karen Pereczes 2005.


During the 25th - 30th August in Manorbier, a weeklong event was held at Skrinkle Community Centre in Manorbier. For those who took part in the High Tide Summer Holiday Workshop, it was a unique and exciting opportunity to work with locals, sculptor and artist Christopher Elliott and youth workers and musicians Vincent Pereczes and Lyn Evans to create models and banners for their own carnival.

29 children, whose ages ranged between 4 and 15 years, researched birds and marine life found on the Pembrokeshire coast, working together to create authentic seabird models, eggs and nests, and a large colourful ocean batik.

Parents and even grandparents also became involved. One particular local grandparent, who initially offered to help out making refreshments, ended up scrubbing floors and even making paper mache eggs - getting splattered with paint in the process!

"There was a real feeling of community spirit," Vince explained, "It was a thoroughly enjoyable week, where everybody worked together as a team. The young people's input was fantastic - not once did we hear the words 'I'm bored!'"

"As young artists can have a short concentration span, we broke up the day by playing team games, like the 'parachute game' and cricket, and learning about drumming and rhythm." Lyn explained.

Christopher, who has many years of experience creating large processional pieces for carnivals in the Cardiff area, explained, "My work has an environmental, conservation or natural history connection. I am fascinated and inspired by the diversity of wildlife that lives among us."

Michael and Susan Brett, from Chorley in Lancashire, were holidaying in the Saundersfoot area when they read about the workshop in the local paper, and decided to bring their 5 children along. "The week has been brilliant. The people have been very welcoming and friendly," Susan said.

"The children have been so involved and itís been good for them to do something they wouldnít have had time to do at school - to spend a whole week on one project," Michael added.

Asking the children what their favourite part of the week was, I got varying replies, from Fabien Henderson, aged 5, who said, "I enjoyed painting fishes," to Loren Sawyer, aged 8, who said, "I liked making a black-backed gull out of foam, masking tape and paint."

"The week has been very good. Hopefully, as well as having fun, they've discovered a lot about the world around them - how to recognise specific birds and what to look for in rock pools," said Christopher.

"When we were doing research into local marine life, I was describing Sea Slugs, and one of the kids seriously asked, 'Does that mean they eat Sea Lettuce?'," Christopher laughed, "It made me think, though - perhaps they do... ?"

The highlight of the week was a lively and colourful parade through Manorbier village to the beach, led by a life-sized seal and accompanied by musicians Jason Lawday playing the bagpipes, Robin Goodfellow on accordion and Gerald Conn on the bohdran drum.

The children held the seabird models they had made... puffins, gannets and oystercatchers bobbed up and down in time to the music, while parents, grandparents and locals looked on, smiling. To see how proud the children were of the things they had made was really heart-warming.

At the beach, the children took part in the 'Stripping The Seaweed' dance. "There were two large pieces of batik in the shape of ocean waves that the children had painted with sea creatures," explained Vince, "and everybody danced through the centre, holding the various things they had made."

The event was organised by Manorbier And District Community Arts Programme (MADCAP).

David Morgan, the founder and chairperson of MADCAP, explained, "MADCAP is an attempt to pull together the art activity that goes on rather sporadically within the community, giving it a framework in which to enable people to put forward and develop their ideas."

Angela Rogers, Christopher's partner and secretary of MADCAP, was responsible for fundraising and advertising the event. "This year was seen as a pilot venture. We knew it would have to be on a small scale, as we didnít have a large budget." Angela explained, "Our aim is to be more ambitious next year - running the event for a whole 2 weeks. This will give the children more preparation time to make bigger structures that will make the final procession even more dramatic. The High Tide Team are also keen to extend next yearís carnival with a family musical event in the evening."

Angela continued,  "For myself and Chris having moved to the area recently, it was a good opportunity for us to be an active part of our local community - to give something back. Hopefully, lots more people will get involved next year, too."

Any local businesses that would like to contribute to the High Tide carnival event are invited to contact Angela Rogers on 01834 871737.