Zennor wildfire explored through new photography exhibition:
A new exhibition of photographs by eco-artist Rosie Sherwood explores and documents the
recovery of Zennor Head following a devastating wildfire in July 2022
The exhibition will be shown at Botallack Count House from 14 th October – 12 th November
and in the Crypt Galley at St Ives Gallery of Artists from 19 th – 24 th November
Gallery Evening Event – 18 th November 6-9pm. An evening with talks, free drinks and
nibbles. Join the artist and rangers to raise a glass to those who fought to save our coastline.
An exhibition of photographs by eco-artist Rosie Sherwood will be shown at National Trust Botallack
Count House and the Crypt Gallery in St Ives Gallery of Artists during October and November. The
exhibition documents the slow recovery of Zennor Head, from a devastating wildfire, through a
series of poignant and contemplative photographs taken every month for over a year.
As the UK reached record high temperatures in July 2022, a wildfire broke out at Zennor Head,
which is cared for by the National Trust. As smoke blanketed the surrounding area, local artist Rosie
Sherwood, paid a visit to the site to photograph the damage.
Rosie describes her first visit ‘I could feel the heat of the scorched earth through my hiking boots. It
quickly became clear that what I’d intended as a one-off visit required something more, a long-term
photographic documentary project’ Rosie continues ‘I have photographed Zennor Head once a
month for 13 months, until the anniversary of the fire. The resulting photographs are a mournful yet
hopeful look at natures journey towards recovery.’
The wildfire at Zennor burnt ferociously, above and below ground, damaging approximately 400
square metres of coastal heathland. Wildlife living in the area was also lost or displaced. Trust
rangers worked closely with the local fire service cutting a firebreak and continuously wetting the
area to contain the fire and prevent it from spreading further.
Simon Hocking, National Trust Area Ranger remembers the time well. ‘The fire in Zennor felt very
different from other wildfires that I have been involved with over the years. The summer’s drought
had made both the surface vegetation, soil, and root systems extremely dry and so susceptible to
fire.’ Simon continues ‘This meant that the fire had a far greater intensity and so the damage to the
habitats on the headland was far more extensive than normal. Sadly – fires like this on Zennor
headland are likely to become more frequent now due to the impact climate change.’
Before the fire, Zennor head was a haven for plants and wildlife. In the months since, rangers have
noticed signs of new life as grasses and coastal wildflowers, such as thrift, being to grow, such as
and wildlife returns. The recovery is still in its early stages and, with careful management, will
continue to recover over the next few years. However, the hot summer of 2022 was not an anomaly
but part of an increasing pattern of longer, and stronger, wildfire seasons in the UK and the National
Trust’s team in West Cornwall are working to mitigate the effects of this.
The exhibitions mark one year of Rosie’s project, but not the projects end. Rosie plans to keep
photographing Zennor Head quarterly through the coming years until the land is fully recovered.