Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I’m sometimes blinded into thinking that our beaches are relatively clean. The places I go are exposed to such a punishing surf that little detritus is left. Sometimes there’s a fishing float, tyre or rusting side of a ship lodged permanently into the back wall of a cave but the rocky shoreline can appear scoured clean with every tide. Westward Ho!, my local sandy beach also fools you into thinking that litter is a thing of the past. That is until you see it at the end of a summers day after the holidaymakers have gone. On-shore-drift makes a fine job of moving the crisp packets, beer cans, and discarded beach toys down to Saunton Sands and the fortnightly spring high tide makes a good job of finding the neatly hidden plastic bags and polystyrene cups pushed into holes on the pebble ridge or held under a stone. We’ve learnt to recycle so well now that we even crush up the water containers so they take up less space. I’ve even heard visitors ask why there are no bins on the beach having no comprehension that at high tide there is no beach; but this doesn’t stop piles of rubbish being neatly stacked together as if to say “We believe this would make a good place for a bin!”

How difficult is it "take your rubbish home with you"? Another question would be "Is anyone ever prosecuted for dropping litter?” I’m sure we could find a few cases but how about “Has anyone ever been prosecuted for letting a helium balloon fly off, or a lantern for that matter?” I will end up on a beach eventually.
At least this cream bottle served a purpose as a useful floating home. I threw it back into the sea so hopefully these goose barnacles survived!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Song of the Surf

I went home to visit my parents recently and I was reminded of an image that has been with my since as far back as I can remember. It’s a print of a painting called ‘Song of the Surf’ by Ed Mandon. I expect it was a popular print in its day, that being the early 1960’s. I remember often looking into this picture of the sea. Not the pretty turquoise blue of Cornwall or Greece, or the palm tree lined sun bleached cove, the peaceful relaxing sunset or the family snapshot of children paddling in the shallows; no this was Mandon’s deep green sea, wild and free, the waves endlessly crashing in my mind, a vast living breathing entity. The sky, a cold yellow with the threat of rain. It’s a picture that has influenced my subconsciously for a long time. I remember once on Marconi Beach, Cape Cod, I ran down the beach towards the sea and the waves as the holidaymakers ran in the opposite direction, fleeing (as if for their lives) as huge thunderclouds gathered over the ocean.

I’m a lot closer to that deep green wild enticing sea now living in North Devon. And getting closer to it in my own work. ‘Song of the Sea’, it certainly calls you; maybe that’s the point, maybe it’s song and call is at its loudest when the sea is in its foulest mood and perhaps that is why the coast here is the ‘Graveyard of the Atlantic’.