Written by Susie David

Here we are at high tide, high summer on Dawlish Warren. One side of the spit is opaque jade sea, boisterous with high waves and high winds looking mischievous …dangerous even.  A few people standing on the edge of the slipway consider jumping in. I hope they don’t. Concrete so hard. Bodies so soft. The other side of the spit is placid. Split …spit personality?!

We set up camp on the serene side — better for recording as we shout back at the loud tourist boat through the megaphone. They don’t hear, not even when the megaphone’s siren accidentally goes off. Flick of a switch. They do look at us though. Eventually someone waves.

The Warren shows off, spinning a large murmuration of dunlin over our heads, effortless. Silver-grey slight winged bodies shift in and out of visibility in the sunlight. Slipping out of gravity. Slight of hand. Slip of the eye. Slip of the tongue.

Who wants to do the slipping, err, the falling?

You fall — you’re the fool.

I am clowning around today — drunk with the high tide possibly, for a wistfulness seeps in the minute we see that the tide is on the turn.

The summer too, having been at stand is now on the turn. Falling back down to Earth.

Earth — our planet; substance of ground; drive (a fox) to its lair; connect an electrical device to the ground.

How to fall, fool?

A random search for ‘fool’ in Google reveals:-

The Fool is shown at the beginning of his journey with unlimited potential. The sun rising up behind him …facing north-west, the direction of the unknown. He is looking upwards, toward the sky, or Spirit. He is about to step off a cliff into the material world but is he prepared? He has all the tools and resources he needs in the bag on his staff but he has not opened the bag yet… (https://www.biddytarot.com/tarot-card-meanings/major-arcana/fool/)

Shape-shifter, mercury, trickster, hermes… There are many fools in us.

The trickster is a character in a story (god, goddess, spirit, man, woman, or anthropomorphisation), which exhibits a great degree of intellect or secret knowledge, and uses it to play tricks or otherwise disobey normal rules and conventional behaviour …using trickery and deceit as a defence. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trickster)

But we all fool, fall — gravity is irresistible.

A mother comes up to ask what we’re up to then hastily ushers her daughter away as we clumsily try to explain why we are falling.

Megan’s head hurts and Gabby’s pre-existing bruises from a previous fool fall on the Moors become bruised. But, from down here if you look up, the sky opens up.

The alto cirrus and contrails up there mirror the marks of our falling down here. Is this is an environmental experiential Rorschach?  Or are we just projecting meaning?


Megan reminds me of a Donna Haraway quote that caught our eye early on in this residency, way before we fell for the Warren:

‘Perhaps our hopes…turn on re-visioning the world as coding trickster with whom we must learn to converse.’

(Warren 2000 p.35)


Susie David writes.

The Warren today is floriferous. Floriferous, meaning many-flowered says Megan. None of us can say it. How to spell it? Floriferrous? — A suffix slightly prone (prone) to rust?

On this spit of land jutting out to sea (see) with its gazers trampling the overlooked underfoot and its wind and animal grazers, the Evening Primrose has adapted by spreading along, lying (lying) close to the ground. Survival tactics. Sniper flowers. Bees that visit them are generally vespertine temporal specialists — evening foragers.

“I am not that good at flowers” says Gabby. She’s probably very ‘good’ at flowers, it’s just a few names still unknown, uncalled. Leave the un-names hanging in the air then.

In naming something are we laying claim to it? I claim this — this is me. A caddis fly lava sticking things it comes across to itself, to hide itself.

I am no longer that naked, exposed, vulnerable thing, no, I am this thing now: floriferous, rusting slightly but waiting to be visited by vespertine temporal specialists who will be along before too long.

If, like a camouflage net over a sniper, a proper name or noun could be said to be casting a net over some thing, is it benignly concealing it so it can move freely and unobserved, or would it be an attempt to trap it as if a different kind of net — one for hunting.

Can the naming of some thing tempt us to get closer* or does it impede encountering it with fresh awareness?**

So, this is the scarlet pimpernel who likes to hide, though it is made of the boldest red. Here, take this small corner of the camouflage netting to help you.

*Writers Robert McFarlane and Paul Warde suggest that environmental awareness has been impoverished in relation to the loss of attention to the proper names of things.

**I recall Alan Watts, in relation to Zen Buddhism, wrote something about this and yet can find no reference. If anyone knows it then please let me know.


Megan Calver and Gabrielle Hoad write:

Posted by Susie David

As we start to think about how to develop work arising from Dawlish Warren, we’re asking the question: “what do non-artists get out of collaborating?” So we were delighted to have the opportunity to meet Sally Watkins and the rest of the b-side team, organisers of a bi-annual multimedia festival on the Isle of Portland in Dorset. Their programme emerges from conversations between artists, producers and the residents in response to place.

We posed our question to b-side. It’s good to give local people the opportunity to sing about their place, Sally suggested thoughtfully. It can give a sense of belonging.

After our meeting, we went to explore the island, including Verne High Angle Battery, a derelict Victorian gun battery. Although we hadn’t come equipped to work, we experimented with some call and response through the tunnels — broadcasting the graffiti that visitors (Portlanders perhaps?) had left there.

Next b-side Festival takes place 10-18 September 2016




photo by Steve Ayres

Written by Megan Calver & Gabrielle Hoad. Posted by Susie David

Out on the Warren we bump into Ranger Steve, who tells us how a recent storm changed the beach “massively”. High winds made sea water pool on the walkways and ran down “like a river”.

photo by Steve Ayres

The place keeps revealing itself.

photo by Steve Ayres

“How did you know it was sea water?” asks Gabby. “I turned the corner and got drenched by spray. I was my own water sampler,” he replies.

Later Ranger Steve’s email delivers a gift: photos of delicate patterns revealed to his site-sensitive eye after the storm removed the top, dry layer of sand from the hard, damp sand below.

He adds:-

“Glad you saw the lizard tracks (and a lizard). The tracks are a classic part of that secret nature vibe that makes this job so interesting. Most people (even those calling themselves naturalists) just don’t notice them. It’s one of the reasons I love the natural world, each time and each way you look, you get a different view.”


Many thanks to Ranger Steve.