I’m endlessly inspired by the sea and my visits to the beach, even if I don’t actually fancy a swim right now! But recently I’ve been enjoying the local hills and woods, whilst the trees are damp and the skies are gloomy.
On some walks through the Sussex downs I’ve been finding a lot of joy in the details of things and in the natural colours that pop out when you look closely. On a rainy day I discovered some beautiful subtle lichen that followed the contours of sawn wood on the top of a fence post. I probably looked like a crazy person, taking photos of a fence post. But what can you do.
I’ve also been exploring a very dark and damp woodland nearby and have been wandering through trees coated in lichen, finding derelict structures shrouded in moss and stumbling across branches with some pretty colourful fungi. I think I’m drawn to the idea of the tiny worlds within worlds that these natural forms offer. The closer you look, the more they appear like forests and landscapes in their own right.
Capturing and reflecting those natural tones in my own work is a bit of a challenge. Imitating nature is a tricky path to follow. But I love subtle blues, greens and browns, with the occasional pop of orange or yellow. So hopefully my work will continue to edge down this path. I’m also interested in how man-made things sit in the landscape and the way nature takes over, giving it a soft patina over time. I’m working towards a potential collaborative project with another maker that may explore some of these themes. It’s too early days to share details at the moment, but these inland explorations are (hopefully) heading somewhere too.
I haven’t forgotten the sea though. I’m still running around the trashy foreshore finding things that have fetched up on the pebbles.
It’s often the thing that looks like it’s not supposed to be there that catches my eye – bright colours are the biggest giveaway, though they’re usually just bottle tops. At the Witterings a large orange piece of plastic sat on the beach looking dramatic. At Newhaven a bicycle reflector shone out from a pile of seaweed. Sometimes I find plastic things that have mutated through their time in the sea and have come to mirror natural forms. My workshop is full of such objects and I have no idea what I will do with most of them.
On being a Womble – I do attempt to take away and safely dispose of some of the rubbish I find, what little I can, just to keep it out of the sea and away from the wildlife. But I can’t clean the whole beach, it’s just too messy there. And it’s a rather futile task as it keeps coming with every tide. And perhaps it’s really just moving it from one part of the world to another, from beach to landfill. But I do it to make myself feel better, if nothing else.
On camera – I snap away with my iPhone and post lots of images like this on Instagram, so if you just can’t get enough of photos of things found on the beach or close-up lichen shots, then head over there for more of that kind of thing. I’m also back in the studio and making things. So hopefully some images of work in a few weeks, with a bit of luck.