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Withy Lore - Cornwall College live brief - Barry Mundy - Mullion Cove

Sarah from Storlines.org.uk and I teamed up with the Cornwall College, Camborne, Level 3 Film, Television and Photography courses, to carry out a live brief with their learners. They had never heard of withy pots until now and were tasked to record a special occasion, when Barry Mundy, a retired fisherman and withy pot maker from Mullion Cove in Cornwall, planned to make a withy pot for the first time in 7 years.


Sarah and I arrived together, managing to find a space to park which was a stone throw away from the water. It was an unusullay cold, yet beautiful day. It was peaceful, plants around the cove were touched with frost, glistening in the sunshine and shallow pools of water on the pebbled beach were frozen solid, which was a first for me!



We met with Barry at the net loft who appeared calm and ready for the day ahead. Laying on the ground beside the steps that lead up to the door were tamarisk branches ready to be woven.



A plaque on the door sat proud, in memory of his late father.



As the door opened, we saw a pot stand, subtly lit by natural light coming from a small window and the open door.


This stand holds a very important role, it is used to construct the top half of a withy pot and it has served this purpose for decades; previously owned by a retired local fisherman who then handed it down to him 60 years ago. The first challenge for Barry was to find the correct holes to push his willow branches into.



Before the college team arrived, Sarah and I had an opportunity to explore the room. It may have been small, but it was filled with so much character and history and many stories to be unearthed and told!



We were soon joined by the college team and before we knew it the cameras were rolling and the withy pot making had begun!



Barry got into the rhythm quickly, making it appear like a skill you never lose, no matter how long it has been since you last practiced, a little like riding a bike.


We all watched in silence and only the sounds of withy pot making and the sea could be heard.


The pot stand brought about a few more challenges for Barry, when brittle rope broke, but this did not seem to phase him and he took it all in his stride. Working with the materials and the tools he had, he bent and shaped the willow to form the top half of his withy pot.



Day 2 we returned to record Barry complete the bottom half of his pot.


One of the college learners felt inspired and asked if we could film Barry walking towards the net loft, framed by the beauty of the cove.



Back inside, Tamarisk was worked into the base, which was partly chosen for it's durability when working in the sea.



The finished pot was a beautiful sight to be seen and we could not wait to step outside and photograph it. The photo would not have been complete without the stand, but as Barry carried it, a part of it broke! As though it had finally completed what it had set out to do. We felt honored to have been there to witness and document the creation of its last withy pot.




Editing


The journey for the Cornwall College team did not finish there. They were tasked to edit down the hours of footage to just 10 mins. Ensuring each step of the withy pot making was featured and adding audio recordings previously captured by us last year. This will form part of our Withy Lore exhibition at Royal Cornwall Museum in 2025.


They also edited a second, longer film from the footage, which documents the process of making a Million Cove style pot in more detail. This will be archived for generations to come!


Thank you to Marc and Simon and your learners for making this possible ! and to Barry for sharing your craft with us.


Thank you also to our funders :



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