Lisa is the author and photographer of award-winning books Sea Journal and Sea and Shore Cornwall: common and curious findings. As a work-in-progress, her forthcoming book Scavenging (John Murray, 2020) won the Royal Society of Literature Giles St Aubyn Award for Non-fiction, previously the RSL Jerwood Prize for Non-fiction.
A beachcomber, mudlark and collector of found objects, her previous books won The Rubery Book Award and Holyer an Gof Publisher’s Award. Sea Journal was also Highly Commended at the British Book Design and Production Awards, its publication accompanied by a touring exhibition of photographs and cabinets of beach finds. Her children’s book Treasure from the Sea, beautifully illustrated by Sarah McCartney, came out last summer. She gives occasional talks about the books, previously at Port Eliot Festival, Waterstones, Fowey Festival, Eden Project, TOM Talks (Tomorrow’s Oceans Matter) and Penzance LitFest.
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 documentary photographer, with past clients including The Independent on Sunday, The Daily Telegraph and The Observer. After having children and moving to Cornwall in 2004 she also 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 Thames finds.
Black and White portrait by Ellie Wainwright