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Journey: Mayflower 400

Crafts Exhibition Family Historical
  • The Main Abbey
  • Suitable for all ages

Rescheduled from 2020!

A Transatlantic Touring Exhibition by Tamar Valley Printmakers UK and The Printmakers of Cape Cod USA.

In this exhibition, rescheduled from 2020, The Tamar Valley Printmakers (UK) and the Cape Cod Printmakers (USA) present a new body of artistic work inspired by the journey taken by the Mayflower 400 years ago. A total of 40 artists will be represented in the exhibition, from both sides of the Atlantic.

Artists were encouraged to create work around the theme of “journeys,” whether from a social, emotional, or historical perspective. The exhibition was able to go ahead at the Cape Cod Museum of Art last summer, but lock-down restrictions in the UK mean that we are only now able to enjoy this fascinating exhibition. 

The story of the Pilgrims and their epic voyage across the Atlantic aboard the Mayflower to set up a colony in the New World has become the stuff of folk law. With this in mind, it was also important that the Wampanoag and the wider Native American Nations were also an integral part of the Mayflower 400 commemorations. The exhibition doesn’t shy away from some of the more romantic myths, to also explore the story from a 21st century perspective.

With the Mayflower stopping at both Dartmouth and Plymouth, the story already has a Devon link. However, the exhibition also commemorates the building of the Replica ‘Mayflower II’ lovingly handcrafted between 1955-1956 by traditional boatbuilding methods at Upham Shipbuilders in Brixham. Mayflower II sailed from Torbay in 1957, recreating the original journey by the settlers.  It was received with a huge civic reception in New York in July 1957.

The printing press also played an unusual and pertinent role in the Mayflower journey. Disaster struck when the wooden beam holding the main mast in place split.  By wedging their large metal printing press under the massive support beam which had cracked under the strain, the pilgrims desperately fought to prevent the ship from breaking apart.  The printing press supported the damaged beam which held the ship together and in doing so saved the lives of everyone on board. With this in mind, an exhibition of printmaking seems particularly appropriate.

Torre Abbey is open from Wednesday to Sunday with advanced booking required. The exhibition is included in the entry price.  Visit www torre-abbey.org.uk


Following its UK debut, the exhibition will be moving on to the Theatre Royal in Plymouth from 9 September to 20 November 2021.

Image credit: 'Migrants' by Ley Roberts. Image not to be used without prior permission.

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