Projects | Impermanent Edge

Impermanent Edge

On the East Yorkshire shore, the cliffs and beach at Skipsea is the fastest eroding coastline in Europe. Helen Goodwin’s performative and sculptural interventions aimed to catch the impact of wind, tide and sea on the cliffs, and on human life through the shifting buildings and their contents.

Artist’s statement

The work was made on the beach in March, at a time of fierce, forceful winds. White cloth to reflect the ebb of the waves, the tidemark of sea on the edge of land, fixed on upright wooden struts sunk deep into the sand. They connect the sea to sky. They draw the wind in the air. Their movements with wind and water show how the earth moves and reforms and shapes the impermanent edge of shoreland. The flag-like constructions become fragile and surrender to what later seems was inevitable. Just as my cliff-top cottage finally did.

I work in landscape, using materials of place such as stones, soil, chalk, and material culture of people, such as thread, objects, pictures. As glaciers did and the sea does take and move geological materials, I may use materials of one place in another, here chalk on clay and tarmac.

I also move objects from one place to another. I had a cottage on the cliff top at Skipsea for five years. Before it was taken by the sea, I removed a chair I still have, which moved with me from Skipsea to Hull to Brighton. I brought it back to visit. I aimed to create work in response to the changing environment and meet local people. The coronavirus changed exhibition plans from physical to digital, from a single place to a journey.

This digital journey also follows the path of the chair, moving back up from Brighton to Hull and East Yorkshire, to the place where it once sat beneath white muslin curtains in a wooden hut on the cliff top looking out over the sea. It links eroding coastlines where I’ve lived: the chalk cliffs of East Sussex and the till (clay) of East Yorkshire.


On 4 August 2020, eight flags appeared along the eastern coast of England, charting a virtual journey from Brighton to Whitby. One by one they faded until the last one disappeared on 8 September.

ONCA Gallery, Brighton

GroundWork Gallery, Kings Lynn

University of Hull – Energy and Environment Institute

The Critical Fish, Hull

Feral Art School, Hull

Climate Museum UK

Scarborough Art Gallery, Scarborough

Pannett Art Gallery, Whitby

Tilted / A Traced Village

The process of creating this work took place over several months, during which the world went through a seismic upheaval. To capture this shift, Helen wrote about the creation of Impermanent Edge through a series of diaries. They illustrate the movements through the land and sea that culminated in the sculptural and performative work, and the transformation to a new form of ephemeral sculpture in which the piece exists now.

Tilted / A Traced Village: Part One

Tilted / A Traced Village: Part Two

Helen Goodwin: a conversation

Site Map

About the Artist

Helen Goodwin‘s practice is largely site responsive and performative, often working in chosen remote locations and with an emphasis on impermanence. The particular locality, both people and place, is the basis and provides materials that feed into her work. She is particularly interested in the ever-changing edges of landscapes which has led her to look further at ideas around environmental impermanence. Her work usually lasts only for the duration of an install before it is either, washed, cut or swept away. Helen’s recent work has been exhibited in The Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and Japan.