Piddocks making holes in stones and worms casting spirals.
A morning walk. Three men looking for lugworms and me.
It’s low tide but turning. On it’s way out stones were dragged across the sand, the sea taking what it could.
Springs further up the shingle erupt and run down to meet the ocean.
Marks are made in softer sand taken to the sea with the tide. Grooves trace their paths. Sculptural forms branch like roots.
The wind is blowing causing pools to ripple, making their own marks below.
I wonder what marks I would make in the sand if I lay down in the water when the tide was heading out.
Drawings made at the end of a series of dives collecting data on biodiversity, counting indicator species in the Bay of Roses, Spain.
On the back of my slate I began to experiment with, what I thought, was a better way to record what was there. I drew. It was more interesting to me than counting. I went to contribute to a citizen science project, but my reason for joining was to see and to stare, under water.
Restrictions of scale of the slate and the inability to hold still while drawing were interesting observations. Lines crash into each other and draw over the top of each other as I’m caught up in attempts to capture it all. My lines need to be stronger and more direct, I do not have much time. It may not have been a ‘better’ way to record the scene in front of me, the University of Barcelona would not find it as useful as the series of ‘I’s I had drawn on the other side for monitoring what’s living and growing on the sea bed, but it made me look differently. I looked at things in relation to each other, I picked out the shapes that interested me more, the creatures I had come to recognise and enjoy seeing. I noticed how quickly or slowly they move, under their own propulsion or that of the water around them. There’s no background or composition, I drew in the space I had in the time I had. I’m interested in how this could develop…
Drawings of life along a rock face.
20m depth, air getting low, waiting for Max and Sarah to complete their transect lines. Counting urchins, spotting sea squirts, finding new familiarity under water, recognising markers. I’ve been here before. There are no seahorses here. Conger eels and lobster hide in crevices. Animal life looks like plant life. Anemones, sea fans, corals. So much life.
I spent a week in the studio at the De La Warr pavilion about 18 months ago. A whole 7 days. It was to be a heavenly chance to explore my return to Bexhill on Sea after a year of travel to its namesakes. I was so excited about it, had so much I wanted to do. A whole week in one place still seemed like a huge amount of time, and with a wonderful workspace to do nothing but my own thing, it seemed like a total luxury with enormous possibilities. I printed images of Bexhill in New South Wales and Bexhill in Saskatchewan and fixed them to the walls for visitors to the space to look at. I installed lengths of lining paper and invested in a set of multi coloured sharpies for people to share their own stories and memories of the town. I wanted to see the place anew. I got so side tracked with all the things I would do with other people, all the things I wanted to share and discuss, to listen and discover, the week went by and all I had done in the way of making new work was to catch a wave. An afternoon where I had space to myself I took a walk along the beach, emptied my cup of tea and collected a wave in it.
I don’t want to misrepresent this, the week in the space was just what the project needed – I reconnected with people. They generously shared their stories and memories of place with me. I had huge wall charts and maps of how we connect, things that unite and divide a community, what makes it special, a celebration of a town. It likely fed much of the writing I have started since, laying geography with architecture, people and landscape.
What I can return to now though, is that wave. The wave in a cup. It came home with me at the end of the week and I swore I would return it to where I had found it. Weeks and months passed, however, and when I found the cup again, in the kitchen, where I’d left it, the wave had gone. A covering of salt crystals lined the bottom, a small shell is all that was left. The wave had evaporated. Thinking of it now I feel less sad about it, I have a wave in my home, a bit of the sea lives with me. At the time it seemed like a lost chance, a missed opportunity.
In fairness, the wave was not wasted. I ran some workshops at Bexhill Museum for people accessing mental health services. We explored the museum collections and the town, experimented with materials and techniques. The group visited me in the studio and were so taken with my wave in a cup it triggered long and wonderful conversations. M made a postcard, a photograph she had taken on the beach that same day with the text “I caught a wave”. It was very lovely to see how my half thoughts, part actions, translated to others.
Writing this blog seems pertinent. I can draw on these pockets of things almost started, research made, walks taken. I can catch a wave again and see where it takes me this time…