Local artist Annabel Milne has been commissioned to capture the sea, its special wildlife and the humans that are connected to it in the form of a large marine mural in the centre’s Outlook Room.
From the Outlook Room visitors can see across Starney Bay to the cliffs of White Heugh opposite, named after the hundreds of seabirds that nest there during the summer months and the residue they leave behind!
Twice a day, the water recedes and reveals a clue to the marine treasures to be found further offshore: seaweed flops against the rocks sheltering sea snails and starfish clamped fast; crabs lurk beneath rocks and shoals of sandeels trapped in the deeper pools wait patiently for the tide to release them from their watery prison.
Annabel’s mural features over 65 local species as well as the village, lighthouse and local fishing boats.
She commented: “When I started this project I had no idea about the rich diversity of species present in northern waters. I’ve seen colourful marine life whilst snorkelling in the Caribbean but didn’t know corals and colourful fish could be found here too.
“I hope to convey the colours and shapes of the marine life at St Abbs as well as the range of species including seabirds, mammals, fish and molluscs. I’ve named my mural ‘from whelks to whales’ to reflect that.”
Next year Annabel will be following up her mural with a series of art workshops at the Visitor Centre for children and adults.
The marine mural project is being funded by Scottish Environment Link, a forum of Scotland’s voluntary environmental organisations which includes the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, the RSPB and the Scottish Wildlife Trust. Eight mural projects all around Scotland are to receive the funding to buy paints and other materials to help people see the sea – wherever they live. The aim is to help raise wider awareness of the beauty, fragility and biological diversity of our seas and the urgent need to connect, protect and recover them.
Georgia Conolly, manager of St Abbs Visitor Centre, added: “When I came to work here seven months ago I thought that the large wall in the Outlook Room was the perfect spot for a mural.”