Lisa is a photographer and the author of several award-winning books about the sea – Sea Journal, Sea and Shore Cornwall: common and curious findings and a children’s book Treasure from the Sea. As a work-in-progress, her new book Rag and Bone (John Murray, 2020) won the £5000 Royal Society of Literature Giles St Aubyn Award for Non-fiction. She is a beachcomber, mudlark and collector of found objects.
Lisa was born in London but grew up by the sea on the Isle of Sheppey, at the mouth of the Thames. Her grandfather was from a South London family in the ‘scavenging professions’ and she spent much of her childhood fossicking along the island’s shores, collecting—among other things—fossils, sharks’ teeth and old bottles. The cliffs there have a strange and other-worldly feel as they are constantly being eroded and washed away, losing on average five feet a year. She grew up with stories of local churches and pubs that over the years had been lost to the sea. A favourite place was ‘The Pub With No Beer’, at the time a derelict shell near the cliff edge, with the wreck of the gents already halfway to the beach.
For 12 years she worked as a photographer, with past clients including The Independent on Sunday, Daily Telegraph and Observer. After having children and moving to Cornwall in 2004 she began photographing the sea and selling her work through galleries. The idea for her first book took shape as she began researching the natural and man-made things she picked up along the shore. Lisa continues to live with her family on the south coast of Cornwall, in a house shared with buckets and boxes of beach and river finds.
For some background to Rag and Bone, there is a ‘Travelling Museum of Finds’ blog and a short North Cornwall Book Festival video, both show-and-telling some of the finds collected while writing the book.
Black and white portrait by Ellie Wainwright