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  • The Tale

    A Journey of discovery across Torbay



    The Tale is coming to Torbay, Devon.

    The Tale will guide you on a journey of discovery from the streets of Torquay, through hidden coves and historic harbours, to the quarry of Berry Head.

    Along the way, you’ll encounter artworks and performances by artists of international acclaim made especially for Torbay. Inspired by the ideas of writer Philip Hoare, whose boyhood experiences of Torbay shaped his future,

    Thinking back to his times in Torbay he says, “Those childhood visits, the impossible glamour, my aspirations. The bay opened up like the theatre of my dreams. Dark caverns, bright lights, cold water. Being lost and found in such a place, then finding it again. Always changing, always staying the same.  And always the sea, fearful and fantastical: The thrill of it all.” Philip Hoare

    The Tale offers the chance to experience the hidden stories, sounds and dreams of the bay like never before.

    The Tale will take place over three long weekends in September: 8-10 Sept, 15-17 Sept, 22-24 Sept 2017.

    A ticket to The Tale opens up a journey like no other. As the journey begins, you’ll discover where The Tale will take you. You just need to decide how you’d like to experience it: in a day or two days. Tickets start at £15.00. Children and carers for disabled people go free. 

    A Meteor ticket means you do The Tale in one day. A Wanderer ticket takes it at a more leisurely pace over two days. This ticket is good for families.

    A Diver ticket is The Tale with added extras. Do The Tale over two days plus add in artist talks, sea swims or a masterclass.

    The Tale will lead people to unusual places across Torbay. It has all kinds of artworks, including some that use sound. But please don’t be put off. We’re doing what we can to make as many of the artworks as accessible as possible and on Saturday 23 September we will have additional BSL interpreters available and run relaxed performances.

    We will use technology and have trained people on hand to help wherever we can and make sure everyone can have an experience of The Tale. Please contact us to discuss your access needs with us.

    The Tale is an adventure for explorers of all ages. We hope to welcome you to The Tale in September.






    A new type of arts event is coming to South Devon this September. The Tale will guide you on a journey of discovery around the coastal area of Torbay – from the streets of Torquay, through hidden coves and historic harbours, to the quarry of Berry Head Nature Reserve.

    Along the way, you’ll encounter artworks and performances by artists of international acclaim, made especially for Torbay. Inspired by the ideas of writer Philip Hoare, whose boyhood experiences of Torbay shaped his future, The Tale offers the chance to experience the hidden stories, sounds and dreams of the bay like never before.

    An adventurous arts event for explorers of all ages. 

    The Tale will take place over three long weekends in September: 8-10 Sept, 15-17 Sept, 22-24 Sept 2017.

    Tickets: £15.00 – £22.50
    Under 16s go free!

    Scroll down for more about the artists involved, to book tickets and plan your journey. We want The Tale to be open to all, so if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

    Check out the Story section for intriguing previews of The Tale over this summer.

    Follow @situationsuk & @philipwhale

    Philip Hoare

    Philip Hoare is the writer behind The Tale. His text about Torbay provides the inspiration for all the artists and your journey on The Tale. You can read this chapter in Philip’s new book RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR available from all good bookshops in July 2017.

    Philip’s previous books include biographies of Stephen Tennant and Noel Coward, the historical studies, Wilde’s Last Stand Spike Island, and England’s Lost Eden. His book Leviathan or, The Whale won the 2009 BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction. His last book, The Sea Inside, was published in 2013.

    An experienced broadcaster, curator and filmmaker, Philip wrote and presented the BBC Arena film The Hunt for Moby-Dick, and directed three films for BBC’s Whale Night. He is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Southampton, and co-curator of the Moby-Dick Big Read.

    I have been coming here since before I was born. The red and green and blue must have registered amniotically on the watery me in my little ocean. I can’t remember the future or forget the past, only what remains: those childhood visits, the impossible glamour, the yearning aspirations. The bay opening up like the theatre of my dreams, desires strung out and suspended, as if you could always come back to them before they disappear. Dark caverns, bright lights, cold water; being lost and found in such a place, then finding it again. Always changing, always staying the same; and always the sea, fearful and fantastical:
    The thrill of it all.

    Philip Hoare, 2017

    Image: Andrew Sutton


    All the artworks and performances in The Tale have been created for locations across Torbay inspired by Philip Hoare. Exact locations and details of the works are kept under wraps until you start the journey. Here are just a few of the participating artists in The Tale. More information on all the artists will be released in July.

    Claire Cunningham

    Claire Cunningham is a performer based in Glasgow. One of the UK’s most acclaimed and internationally renowned disabled artists, Cunningham’s work is rooted in the study and use/misuse of crutches, through which she engages physically with the world, exploring the potential of her own body and movement and challenging conventions and expectations of dance.

    Claire’s involvement in The Tale is supported by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation.

    Claire on Torbay

    It’s wonderful to return to Torbay, this time as a grown up! I came here when I was 12, or maybe 13, with my parents on holiday, and have the obligatory photo of myself and my dad in the stocks at Cockington! It’s an incredibly beautiful part of the country, and I am grateful for the chance to spend time here, meeting local people and gain even a brief insight into what it means to actually live here.

    Photo by Colin Hattersley

    one step at a time like this

    one step at a time like this are an Australian group who create performances that allow audience to see places, architecture and others anew. Their works are mobile, immersive and place-responsive experiences, often with a digital media component.

    They have been commissioned to create works for London 2012 Olympic Cultural Festival, Arts Centre Melbourne, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Arts House, Dublin Theatre Festival & City of Melbourne. Their work has received numerous awards and been the subject of award-winning documentaries in the US.

    one step at a time like this have been working with Play Torbay and their involvement in The Tale is supported by the Australia Council.

    Photo: Forever Young, a teenage adventure for grown ups, Clonmel Junction Festival

    Chris Watson

    Chris Watson is one of the world’s leading recorders of wildlife and natural phenomena. The unearthly groaning of ice in an Icelandic glacier is an example of, in Watson’s words, putting a microphone where you can’t put your ears. He was born in Sheffield and in 1971 he was a founding member of the influential Sheffield-based experimental music group Cabaret Voltaire. His sound recording career began in 1981 when he joined Tyne Tees Television. Since then he has developed a particular and passionate interest in recording the wildlife sounds of animals, habitats and atmospheres from around the world. As a freelance recordist for film, TV and Radio, Chris Watson specialises in natural history and documentary location sound together with track assembly and sound design in post production.

    Chris has been working with Sound Communities in Torbay.

    Photo by Kate Humble

    Ingri Fiksdal

    Ingri Midgard Fiksdal works as a choreographer and is currently a research fellow at The Oslo National Academy of the Arts (Norwegian Artistic Research Programme) whose work has toured globally.

    As an artist, Ingri places equal emphasis on sound, light, choreography, costume and set-design within a performance. The audience is always integral to her performances.

    Ingrid’s involvement in The Tale is supported by the Norwegian Arts Council.

    Ingri on Torbay

    When first invited to be part of The Tale, my first reference to the area was my memory of Norwegian teenagers going to Torquay for language school. They stayed with local families, ate prawn crisps for lunch, and spent the evenings partying! Working on The Tale, the picture of Torbay is expanding every day. I’m loving the opportunity to hear of the changes going on.

    Jonathan Anderson

    Jonathan Anderson is a Swansea-based artist who has been working in South Wales since graduating from Swansea Metropolitan University in 2007. Past group shows have included Crafted at Oriel Myrddin, Carmarthen, 2009, Ground, Wrexham Arts Centre 2009, and To the Buddha: Veils and Voids at St Davids Hall, Cardiff, 2010. His sculptures often employ materials such as sand, soil, water, coal, which Anderson describes as a ‘a dark, mysterious, almost mythical material’.

    Ellen Gallagher

    Ellen Gallagher is an American artist. Her work has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions and is held in the permanent collections of many major museums. Her media include painting, works on paper, film and video. Some of her pieces refer to issues of race, and may combine formality with racial stereotypes.

    Ellen currently lives and works in New York and Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

    Photo: Ellen and Philip Hoare at Berry Head, 2016.

    Marc Rees

    A born and living Welshman, Marc Rees is an artist who works across different media with an established track record of creating groundbreaking, provocative and risk-taking site-specific projects. He often describes his role as a contemporary archaeologist – exhuming a site’s multilayered history and unearthing fossil fragments of fact, or fiction. Examining these findings in detail, he transforms them in collaboration with artists, performers or the community to deduce, interpret and re-imagine.

    Marc on Torbay

    Torbay has provided a fantastical terrain to explore and excavate and I’ve unearthed wonderful, bizarre and extraordinary stories to weave into The Tale.

    Photo: Warren Orchard

    Your journey

    The Tale is a journey from Torquay to Berry Head. The locations and details of the artworks and performances will be revealed when you start the journey. To help you make choices about travel and accommodation, we can reveal that the journey starts at Torquay Museum and ends in Brixham at 7pm (with an optional coach returning to Torquay via Paignton should you need it).

    The entire journey can be completed in a full day (Meteor ticket), but you may decide to take a more leisurely pace over two days (Wanderer ticket), and even to spread the journey across a weekend, taking in a swim in the sea or artist talk or workshop.

    Meteor tickets (one day) start from 9.30am to 11.30am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and include travel between the locations via ferry.

    Wanderer tickets (two days) start from 12.30pm – 2.30pm and  finish the following day at 7pm. A Wanderer ticket does not include travel, instead it allows you to complete The Tale at a more leisurely pace, and our staff will inform you of the public transport and car parking options that are available to you when you start at Torquay Museum.

    Please note that The Tale is a journey and there will be a fair amount of walking involved. The Tale will take place come rain or shine, so please ensure you are prepared for being outdoors.

    All ages are welcome, concession rates are available. Kids go free!

    For further information, download our FAQs here.

    Travel and accommodation

    The Tale starts at Torquay Museum, 529 Babbacombe Road, Torquay, Devon, TQ1 1HG.

    By train: trains arrive to Torquay Railway Station every half hour from Exeter St Davids and Totnes. Hourly trains to and from London Paddington, Plymouth and Bristol Temple Meads. It is a 25 minute walk from Torquay station to the museum. If you’re experiencing The Tale in one day, you will need to get an early train, or stay in Torbay the night before.

    A free coach from Brixham at the end of The Tale will depart in time to catch the last trains north from Paignton, changing at Newton Abbot. National Rail

    By car: We encourage you to enjoy The Tale by using public transport, but we understand that some people will prefer to use a car. Limited on-street car parking is available opposite the museum. We would advise parking in the Harbour Car Park in Torquay. Staff can provide information on car parking near all locations on arrival at the museum.

    By bus: there are regular buses from Exeter, Plymouth, Totnes, Dartmouth and Bristol. A bus run by Megabus goes once a day from London Victoria.

    Use this handy regional website to plan your journey: Travel Devon

    Where to stay
    There are plenty of great places to stay in Torbay. We would advise booking as early as possible and staying in either Torquay or Brixham if you are taking in The Tale over two days. Check out the English Riviera website for full details of a range of hotels, guesthouses, and self-catering options. 


    The Tale journey includes old buildings and hard to reach places. We want as many people as possible to discover these places and explore the artworks and performances so we’re working hard to make The Tale as accessible as we can to a wide range of people. We regret not every site will be fully accessible to everyone. In particular people who use wheelchairs or who cannot walk very far may find some places difficult or impossible to access.

    So that we can help disabled people, their friends, family and carers plan a visit, we suggest you contact us to discuss your needs. We can send you information about access to each site and details of how we are making artworks as accessible as possible. For example, for Chris Watson’s new outdoor sound installation, we will have technology available to convert sounds into pulses and small movements that can be felt.

    There is a BSL version of The Tale introductory information here.

    On Saturday 23 September, we will have extra support for disabled people, additional BSL interpreters, audio description and additional transport options for disabled people.

    Extra Events

    Enrich your experience of The Tale by going behind-the-scenes or taking in the delights Torbay has to offer.

    Dawn Swims with Philip Hoare
    6.30am every Saturday and Sunday mornings of The Tale. A relaxed dip in the sea to greet the sun!
    Meet outside Meadfoot Beach Café, Meadfoot Sea Rd, Torquay TQ1 2LQ
    Free. No need to book. Swimmers swim at their own risk. Children welcome. Under 16s to be accompanied by an adult. Please bring warm up clothes.

    Family workshop with Philip Hoare
    What Does A Whale Do?  We dive into the world of whales and dolphins.

    Saturday 16th September 3.30pm-4.30pm
    Saturday 23rd September 3.30pm-4.30pm
    Torquay Museum, 529 Babbacombe Rd, Torquay TQ1 1HG
    Free, but booking essential. BOOK NOW.

    Artists’ talk
    Chris Watson in conversation with Ellen Gallagher, chaired by Philip Hoare
    Saturday 9th September 3.00pm – 4.30pm
    The Guardhouse Café, Berry Head Nature Reserve, Brixham TQ5 9AW
    Free, but booking essential. BOOK NOW.

    Masterclasses and professional workshops

    Masterclass with Claire Cunningham
    Thursday 14th September 2-5pm
    Thursday 21st September 2-5pm
    This masterclass in devising, movement and performance is aimed at disabled and non-disabled individuals (aged 16 plus) with some experience in movement.
    £10 (£8 concessions). Capacity is strictly limited so booking early is strongly advised. Location to be advised on booking. BOOK NOW.

    Masterclass with one step at a time like this
    Thursday 21st September 10 – 5pm
    Explore Torquay like never before and find out how one step at a time like this develop a new performance. You’ll be introduced to techniques used by the performance company, explore the backstreets and beaches of Torquay and develop your own short walking performance. For educators, students, artists, performers and anyone interested in sharing new ways of exploring and understanding urban and natural environments.
    £20 (£15 conc). Refreshments provided. Bring your own lunch.
    Capacity limited so early booking advised. BOOK NOW.
    Location to be advised on booking.

    Sound recording workshop with Chris Watson
    A chance to work with one of the world’s foremost sound recordists as part of the first weekend’s special events. Further details to follow shortly.

    International Agatha Christie Festival
    13th – 17th September
    Our friends at the IACF are offering a brilliant array of events which you can combine with a visit to The Tale. For more info, visit

    Choose the weekend you would like to attend and a one day (Meteor) or two day (Wanderer) ticket.  For booking events, see previous EVENTS section.

    Meteor tickets inc. ferry travel – £22.50 (£17.50 concessions)
    Wanderer ticket – £20 (£15 concessions)
    Under 16s go free!

    Get Involved

    We have been lucky to work with many people across Torbay for the last two years to make The Tale happen. For example, young people from Play Torbay are devising a new performance with one step at a time like this and others, supported by Sound Communities, have been making field recordings for Chris Watson’s new sound installation.

    There are some great ways to get involved in the final stages of the making of The Tale.

    Become a trained host
    We’re also looking for volunteers to help steward the event as our Tale hosts. You’ll get full training and the chance to meet and work with artists and to meet and greet new visitors to Torbay. If you are interested in joining our team of hosts, please email to register your interest and we’ll be in touch shortly.

    Be part of a new performance
    We have a few places left for young people age 14-25 to help devise, perform and work ‘back stage’ in a new performance by One Step At A Time Like This, made for Torquay. Devisers will need to be free in August for about 12 days, performers will need to be available for a few days in August and some or all of The Tale dates in September. You can sign up to do both roles and also to work out of the spotlight, ‘behind the scenes’. A great way to meet artists and performers and see how a new performance comes together. Contact for dates and details.

    Be part of our technical team
    A few aspects of The Tale need people to help with technical. You’ll get an insight into sound installations and binaural sound. You might be a student, recent graduate or even have more experience. Contact for dates and details 

    Work with us as a digital reporter
    The Space, an organisation which helps cultural organisations to build digital skills to reach more people using digital media, are helping us to tell the story of The Tale to remote online audiences. If you’d be interested in a bursary to become part of our digital team of reporters, email your interest to

    Attend a masterclass
    Claire Cunningham and one step a time like this – will be running masterclass sessions, aimed at students, arts professionals and others who want to learn more about how these artists are working on the project. Book your masterclass through the Events page.


    Schools across Torbay are using The Tale as a great opportunity to see new art, up close, in unusual places. Themes of the sea, journeys and local environment fit well with many curriculum areas.

    We’re running two Schools Day visits on 7th and 14th September. These are special days, just for schools. We’ll have extra people on hand to run workshops and help you get the most out of your visit. There is a charge of £5-8 per child to cover our costs. Many schools have signed up already, but if you would like to join in, sign up here. 

    Sign up for Schools Day

    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

    The School of Listening is a new free online resource for Torbay schools. It provides all a school needs to run an unusual daily listening experience in the classroom. 30 one-minute sound clips, background information and workshop ideas. The Tale artists have donated sound ideas and it’s been devised with Torbay’s Sound Communities project. The School of Listening launches in July, click here to find out more.

    Image credit: Kate Rudman, Sound Communities


    • Philip Hoare celebrates the launch of The Tale in Torbay; film by Marc Rees.

    • The Alphington Ponies appear in Torquay 100 years on. 

      The Alphington Ponies appear in Torquay 100 years on. 

    • Moodboard for a performance inspired by the local legend of the Alphington Ponies.  DURING the forties of last century, every...

      Moodboard for a performance inspired by the local legend of the Alphington Ponies. 

      DURING the forties of last century, every visitor to Torquay noticed two ladies of very singular appearance. Their residence was in one of the two thatched cottages on the left of Torre Abbey Avenue, looking seaward, very near the Torgate of the avenue. Their chief places of promenade were the Strand and Victoria Parade, but they were often seen in other parts of the town. Bad weather was the only thing that kept them from frequenting their usual beat. They were two Misses Durnford, and their costume was peculiar. 

    • Torquay Museum local studies library - where the journey of The Tale will begin. 

      Torquay Museum local studies library - where the journey of The Tale will begin. 

    • A daring dive 

      This short film was made near Peaked Tor Cove, Torquay in the early 1900s and explores a lot of Philip Hoare’s interests in developing The Tale: the sea, reaching up, flying and falling. 

    • one step at a time like this and Play Torbay

      Melbourne based performers, One Step At A Time Like This spent a weekend with young people from Play Torbay in November 2016. Based at Torre Abbey Learning lab, they explored the backstreets and beaches of Torquay: observing, devising and performing. 

    • Chris Watson and Sound Communities

      Chris Watson trained up young people from Sound Communities to make hydrophones and gather underwater field recordings. The recordings will become part of his work for The Tale.


      Listening to the sound of gentle waves on shingle. The ebb and flow of the sea and tides has intrigued many of The Tale artists as they develop their ideas. 


    The Tale is produced by Situations in association with Curledge Street Academy, Paignton Picture House, Play Torbay, Sound Communities, South Devon College, Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust, Torbay Culture and Torquay Museum.

    The Tale has been made possible through the generous support of an Arts Council England Ambition for Excellence grant, Australia Council for the Arts, Ernest Cook Trust, the Jerwood Charitable Foundation, Norwegian Arts Council, The Space and Unlimited Impact.

    Keep in touch