I’ve been writing about diving recently, a research project in Spain studying seahorses. While waiting for the rest of the group to finish counting urchins and so on, following their transect lines, I used the empty space left on my slate to draw. Without a camera I wanted to find a way of recording, of evidencing this under water world. On the back of the white board, the side that wasn’t covered in III’s numbering black and rock urchins, I drew. I was clumsy, it is hard keeping balance and holding in one place eighteen metres below the surface of the ocean, harder still without use of a hand to steady myself. The pencil was awkward in my gloved fingers. Over the course of those last few days of my trip, I ended up with a series of strange and abstract line drawings. Photographs were my only means of documenting them, Gail wanted her slates back. The resultant images were of nothing I could recognise back on the surface, but a record, an attempt at something. I could visualise the scene because of the way I looked at my surroundings in the attempt at drawing them. I remembered it better and differently because of the act. The physical process, the act of immersion placed a seed of something I’m hoping to now nurture.
On Tuesday I walked to the sea for the first time in several weeks. Having had a crash in energy levels, my capacity to walk any distance plummeted too. On Tuesday I walked to the sea. It was still there:
On Thursday I went back and watched. I sat on the shingle and listened. I noticed the gradually shifting tide. It changes silently. Predictably and without conscious thought, tides shift from high to low every 13 hours. They edge gradually forward.
I was, as always, compelled to take multiple photographs of seemingly identical images. Attempts to capture a more dramatic wave, more splash, or less, a silken smooth glass-like surface.
Questioning what is shifting and a lack of progress within me, I turn again to these pictures. Each one is unique. They are clearly different, there is obvious movement, but to a passing glance they are one and the same. The sea is never still. Its constant moving energy repeats endlessly, never the same wave twice. Imperceptible shifts and constant motion.
It is Sunday as I write this blog post and I realise that Tuesday was not that long ago. Another 13 hours and the tide will be heading in the opposite direction again, whether I’m there to watch it or not.
After a concerted start to write regularly, there has been a long pause. My last post tells me that I was slowing down, attracted to the meandering of the ox bow river at Cuckmere Haven. I remember choosing my words carefully, intended to reassure myself that even if I do not look or feel like I am making any headway, chances are I am taking the best path I can.
I have Chronic Fatigue (CFS). Despite living only a couple of hundred yards from the sea, I have not been able to walk that far for over a month. My body has crashed and I am waiting for it to reboot. It is slowly begining to stir
On Tuesday I walked to the sea.
Cuckmere Haven shows water drawing through the landscape. Elegant curves and meandering lines take the shortest possible route. It helps me reconsider my own meanderings and wanderings, wonderings and shifts in thought. Water takes the path of least resistance. At Cuckmere Haven the river illustrates this to be a much longer path than you’d expect. It is not a straight line, not even close. It feels like the water is taking up as much space as it possibly can, that it’s taking the longest route imaginable. Geological structure gets in the way. The land is not uniformly created beneath our feet, making for a much more interesting environment – more varieties of flora and fauna are nurtured and sustained.
My walk alongside it feels like a useful pause. A day out in the drizzle of the summer holidays I am surrounded by water. I am filled with water. The immensity of the sea is often evident, it shouts at me and shows me, hurling itself at the shore and beating at the land. Running water has a slower pace, but in time it carves through stone.
For the last few days I’ve been drawn out into the August autumn that has shrouded the south coast, searching for mist. The view through the window suggests mist, yet when I reach the sea it is gone. A chill greets me, cool crisp air with a hint of muggy telling me summer has not given up completely.
Mist and rain have evaded capture so I have begun sorting out work in my plan chest. Stacks of prints and portfolios of work long since abandoned for shiny new projects, domestic demands and day to day humdrum. I’ve got round to repacking my prints from my MA show. Hurriedly tidied away five years ago they have been moved twice and sat languishing in their own debris ever since. I realise the significance – I have been here before. Right here. Asking water to draw for me.
Six months spent in a cave like space at the bottom of the cliffs of Hastings, was ‘Cave’. The back of Arthur Green’s, as it was, when it was the pier shop. The pier has since been (re)built and opened. The shop with all it’s beautiful Victorian fittings now passed to an antiques dealer. ‘Cave’ sat in the space beyond the shop. It was filled with the detritus from the previous owners and inhabitants. It was totally enclosed, barring the spaces that water got in. I sat on Saturday afternoons in this dark space, listening, writing, drawing and photographing. I was mesmerised by the constant dripping, the endless movement of water. A final task was to record this in some way. I made a sound recording of it and lay strips of paper on the floor, for the cave to make it’s own response.
Different weights of paper were left in different areas of the space for different lengths of time. A variety of decay and degradation took place as well as marks and lines created in the mud. These are some of the prints it made for me – drips and splashes, paper was soaked and walked on. Lovely long sweeping lines of tails and tiny foot prints of mice and rats crossing paths on the paper.
I found a sketch of a mind map, linking words on a diagram, right at the back of the case. A way of working out what I was doing. It’s oddly reassuring to see it could link to what I’m doing now too. Things are shifting but I’m circling around the same stuff.
Fraser Island, an island build of sand. This lake is created from rain water alone. The trees growing up through this body of water seemed significant for me when I took the photo a couple of years ago in Australia. They seem significant to me again now. I still am not entirely sure why.
There is a resilience about water, in all its forms. A never ending, enduring, persistent, relentlessness about it. Something about that is captured here for me. It is resilient and relentless but it bows and folds around otherness. It is wild and calm, restless and at peace. It can be held on an island of sand and will allow other things to grow in it and through it and flourish.
It is about how things grow in the most impossible places.