Neverland

On the night of the 31st January 1953 a tidal surge flooded the seaside towns of Essex. In this haunting film the impact and experience of the flood is translated into a study of a lost culture at the mercy of a devastating natural phenomenon.

An unnamed woman leads us on a journey through the deserted seafront of present-day Southend-on-Sea, whilst a narrator tells the tale of the storm fifty years before and its far reaching consequences. In the deserted town she weaves her way amongst the seaside attractions from Peter Pan’s Playground to Never Never Land: encountering white doves, butterflies and the spectre of lost children. As the sun sets she rests in the Three Shells Café as her skirt weeps salt to the strains of Mahler’s Kindertotenleider.

This work presents an interpretation of history that is constructed from archival research resulting from a residency in the archives of Southend Museum. Hilda Grieve’s book The Great Tide provides the text for the spoken narration. In Neverland archival and empirical research has been reformed to create a visual and aural narrative that reflects on the emotional impact of the floods through an engagement with landscape and place.

Screenings & Comment

Exhibited at:

Focal Point Gallery, UK. 24 July – 2nd September 2000 – solo show
‘Digital Dialogues’, Firstsite Gallery, UK. June 2001 – group show

Screenings:

DNet, LUX Centre, London, Oct 2000

Festivals:

International Festival of Women Directors, Creteil, France,  2001
Harwich Film Festival, UK. 2001

Reviews

‘An emotional rollercoaster… A very moving story…’
‘The surreal images of a woman dressed in the style of the Fifties tripping her way round familiar scenes against a narration about the horror of the flood, somehow told the story of death and devastation more acutely than I would have thought possible.
To try and describe in words what is a very visual experience is unlikely to do it justice…
It’s an emotionally moving journey and one that I would like to recommend.
Sally King, Essex Evening Echo

Artist Roz Mortimer has created a haunting film based on a terrible flood which devastated the seaside town of Southend in the 1950’s. With Neverland, the impact and experience of the flood is translated into beautiful studies of a lost culture at the mercy of a fascinating natural phenomenon.
The themes that emerged continuously throughout the film were the loss of children and the power of photography. Roz brings these together in a fairytale landscape of regained history and meaning. The work not only evokes strong notes of a very different era, but is also reminiscent of Roz’s earlier work as a sculptor. Shape, colour, fantasy and form are striking elements in the film’s sequences, and Roz has found that her films are gradually evolving into a form closer to documentary film making.
Local children were central to the project, and older residents have joined Roz in emotional and poignant evocations of loss and comradeship.
Tamara Smith , East England Arts

‘A most moving piece. It reminds me of my childhood – memories locked up and forgotten’
Focal Point Gallery Visitor’s Book

 

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