Although the Mayflower left Plymouth on 6 September 1620, its legacy can still be seen in the city today. 400 years on, we have Mayflower Street, several roads in Eggbuckland named after some of the ship’s passengers, and new buildings which will bear the ship’s name in 2020 and beyond. Plymouth also has over 25 local businesses and organisations that connect the contemporary city with the historic voyage.
As part of the planning for the ‘Mayflower 400: Legend and Legacy’ exhibition, The Box commissioned a photographer to record the people who shape Plymouth’s Mayflower heritage today. They are shopkeepers, stonemasons, cleaners, boxers, rowers and mechanics. Their businesses and their hobbies all bear the Mayflower name. Their lives are very different from those who sailed on the ship 400 years ago, yet they ensure that the story lives on in our city.
Photographer Tim Mills researched and recorded these people and the places which connect us with the Mayflower the journey it made 400 years ago.
It was fascinating to explore the diversity of businesses, clubs and organisations that had appropriated the word ‘Mayflower’ into their names and titles, and what they represent or signify in terms of the wider Mayflower story. The portraits are a typology of people and place, where the figure remains consistently positioned within the frame, surrounded by the tools or paraphernalia of their respective trades and pursuits. The portraits offer clues as to the nature of the business or club, some more explicit than others, to create a snapshot of the city and its people during a significant moment both locally and internationally.
Jo Loosemore, Mayflower 400: Legend and Legacy curator and Tim Mills, Mayflower 400: Legend and Legacy photographer