30 May 2012

multiple horizons

I've been developing some of the experiments I did in a small sketch book when I was last at Spurn.  I'm working on a larger scale and using a variety of different media to explore some of the horizontal views.


27 May 2012

sorting textures

I've been sorting through some of the textures and ideas I collected at Spurn last weekend.  One of the main things that strikes me about the place are the bands of texture and line: linear arrangements and almost always horizontal. 

As the tide comes up and goes down there is this constant change of the bands: 

patterns in the sand, 
the strips of salt marsh on the estuary side, 
never-ending sequence of waves rolling in on the seaward side, 
lines of groynes.

As a way of focusing myself I sorted the images that I'd had printed into three groups of textures:
ripples and wave patterns in the sand;

the waves themselves and the marks left when the water sorts and drops the material it is moving;

bold textures of the rusty, weathered groynes, the saltmarsh and other debris on the beach.


24 May 2012


Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, hosts and supporters of my project, have issued my press release on their website here.  And I'm in the Hull Daily Mail today!  If anyone has a paper copy they can send me let me know.

20 May 2012

collecting textures

Another grey day and lots of layers are needed to keep out the relentless wind.  But at least it's dry. 

The space I set up yesterday on the second floor of the lighthouse (in front of the big window in the middle) has been really useful as a place to spread things out and do some experiments in wet media.  The room is painted black, as is the room below.  I'm not sure what the significance of the darkness is.  It has a large window which gives enough light to work by.

I decided on Friday's drive over here that this trip must be about collecting textures.  So that is what I've tried to concentrate on.  I've drawn a lot, using pens and charcoal when I'm outside and started to play with making marks from some rusty metal found on the beach.  I tried working on a larger scale yesterday but nothing seemed to work so I've gone back to working on small sketchbook pages, removed carefully from the book to work on so that I can put them back together once things have dried.

19 May 2012

in the lighthouse

I have a key for the lighthouse.  This wonderful old building is now a base I can use to work in, shelter in, and use whilst I'm here.

I'm sitting in what was the lamp room.  The diamond shaped panes of glass surround me and then beyond is the sea.  Waves roll in relentlessly, there is a constant roar from them and the wind.  A large cargo ship has just passed the point of the peninsular, passing very close to the land and entering the wide Humber channel.  The Humber pilot station and the lifeboat station nestle in the dunes near the point.  On the Humber side of the spit are wide sand flats with their patterns of ripples with water lying and reflecting light.  Then the calmer waters of the estuary lap as the tide recedes.  The spit curves away to my left, the greenness of the marram topped dunes narrowing towards the curve. Then it sweeps away to the left and into the greyness where it meets the main part of Holderness somewhere in the distance.

Having access to the lighthouse makes a big difference on a day like this.  Outside it is grey, wet, windy and cold (these photos were taken on a brighter day). The lighthouse is draughty and damp but there is shelter from the constant wind and I have windows on different levels from which to see the changing view.  

15 May 2012


I've done quite a bit of reading both as part of my planning for this project and since I started.  I have a little pile of relevant titles and have really enjoyed either re-visiting books I've read before or finding new ones.

I can't get enough of the recent and current writing on the natural world.  There is a particular genre here that includes Richard Mabey, Robert MacFarlane, Roger Deakin, Mark Cocker, Kathleen Jamie... they all have in common an intense level of observation of the world around them and are able to convey the wonder they have for it in a gripping and beautiful way.  I find their writing very inspiring.

As I'm reading I mark passages that are particularly relevant...

The cleavages between the sand dunes, where the wind and waves had driven it, were choked with plastic... They had their own fascination, the shampoo and milk cartons, the toilet cleaner bottles we could turn over with our feet.  Though the colours were faded and the labels long gone, we knew their shapes, had seen them ranked in supermarkets and hardware stores.  Brushes, masking tape, training shoes, orange polypropylene net...

(p59, Findings by Kathleen Jamie)

My habit of gathering stones and other talismans was a family one.  My parents were collectors.  Shelves and window-sills in my house were covered in shells, pebbles, twists of driftwood from rives and sea.  For as long as I could remember, we had picked things up as we walked.  Humdrum, everyday rites, practised by millions of people…. Now, though, collecting offered a way both to remember and to join up my wild places…. The objects seemed to hold my landscapes together, without binding them too tightly.

(p87-88, The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane)

Our coast is being altered by the sea at every tide, and every storm, and nowhere more than here on the east coast.

(p76, Waterlog by Roger Deakin)  

I was recommended Polly Binns' Vision and Process in Textile Art.  A Personal Response to a Particular Landscape Expressed Through Textile Art.  This is her Phd thesis.  It has been a very valuable read for me and very relevant to my engagement with coastal landscape.  Although her engagement with the North Norfolk coast was all around her every day so she could enjoy the total immersion that I am dipping in and out of with Spurn.

The People Along the Sand by Jan Crowther is a history of Spurn and the people that have lived there since 1800 and I'm finding it really quite gripping!  It is so incredible that people have lived and worked on this inhospitable strip of land, often at the mercy of the sea and for a long time before there were roads and cars.  This really brings home the loss of land to the sea and describes the communities here having to shift and re-adjust when erosion gets the better of their buildings. 

2 May 2012

beach walk weaving

When I walk on the beach I am always noticing what is around my feet and the Spurn beaches seem to attract a particularly interesting mixture of items!  I am constantly fascinated by the intermingling of the items that wash up on beaches, the interweaving of the natural and the man-made.  Sometimes it is blindingly obvious into which camp something falls, but other times things can be so combined that it is confusing to try to separate out the rubbish from the natural detritus.

As I walk I collect things in a small scale way, being quite selective.  I pick up items that I think would be suitable to print with (either direct printing, relief printing or to make collagraphs), these might be scraps of plastic or textile; and I pick up things that might be possible to weave with: bits of rope, fishing line, seaweed.  I am only choosing very small things, just enough to experiment with and explore the possibilities of.

When choosing what to pick up I'm not sorting by colour a all, just concentrating on the shapes and textures.  It is really interesting to see how the plastic rubbish gets worn by water and weather, in the same way that natural items, wood, stone, shell, are being worn.  The fragments are slowly being weathered down and broken up, becoming more and more like each other.

This was the contents of my pocket on one day:

and then the next:

I have experimented with weaving found items quite a bit before and I know the frustrations and limitations of some of them.  Therefore when I got home I used a linen yarn (not a found one) to make a small warp and also used this as the basis for the weft, to secure the found items in and give the little pieces stability. 

Beach walk weaving #1:

Beach walk weaving #2:

1 May 2012

interesting find

I came across the blog of Annemarie Tickle recently and have started corresponding with her.  Her work is based on the landscape of Spurn and particularly the view across the Humber to the south bank.  We share common interests and we hope to meet up when I'm next at Spurn.