“When most think of the South Pacific, images of swaying palm trees and glistening strips of soft white sand
immediately spring to mind. Pitcairn is nothing of the sort. It is rocky, and volcanic. It emerges abruptly from
the blue Pacific, as if by accident. It was here that the Bounty’s mutineers made their home, finding – in this most austere of islands – the perfect hiding place. Its inaccessibility providing both its protection and its decline.
Pitcairn’s rocky coast is ridden with names of places laden with tragedy: Oh Dear, Dan Fall, Nellie Fall, Lin Fall, McCoy’s drop – these are just a few. While on island, and particularly in my early days, when hostility was felt at every corner, I couldn’t help but wonder if I too may end up with a drop named after me,
should I make a proverbial misstep.
A closed community like this one was likely to protect itself, to close ranks. Any visitor to Pitcairn is known as an ‘outsider’ – and outsiders were often maligned and almost always mistrusted.If there were ever a choice to be made between an outsider’s truth and an islander’s fiction, the odds would be unfavourably stacked.
Usually, I find proximity to the sea calming. The continuum between land and sea provides a sense of freedom; a means to escape. While on Pitcairn however, the sheer height of the island, the lack of beaches, the ragged cliffs, all created a sense of claustrophobia; of entrapment.
I remembered the story of the mutineers and empathised with the Tahitian women who tried to build a boat to escape their rugged confines. Like then, the ocean is still an insurmountable wall. A prison.” – Rhiannon Adam
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Big Fence / Pitcairn Island
The Pitcairn Islands are the last British Overseas Territory in the South Pacific. Pitcairn was permanently settled by the infamous Bounty mutineers and their Polynesian captives in 1790, and their descendents, now numbering fewer than 40, still live there today.
The tiny, isolated, volcanic island measures just two by one miles, is 400 nautical miles away from its nearest neighbour, and is the least populated jurisdiction in the world. Due to the infrequent supply ship schedule (the island’s only direct access), Rhiannon Adam was trapped on Pitcairn for three months, spending two of those living at Big Fence… READ MORE
Rhiannon Adam is a photographic artist, born in Cork, Ireland, in 1985. She currently lives and works between London and the US.
In 1992, her parents sold everything they owned and bought a live-aboard sailing boat, Jannes. From that point, her childhood became nomadic, moving from place to place, mainly around South America and the Caribbean. She eventually moved to London as a teenager to live her with aunt, enabling her to begin mainstream education. She later studied at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and at the University of Cambridge.
Adam’s work is centred on research-based, long-form, social documentary projects that make use of analogue photographic processes and archive materials, as well as her on-going obsession with Polaroid and the materiality of the photographic image. Her early life experiences have had a lasting influence on her work, with a focus on remote communities, the concept of utopia, and the fine line between fact and fiction… READ MORE