The sea is in me somehow. Perhaps it is from my mother who grew up never far from the beaches of the South West, I am not sure. She now lives in a fishing village just a few minutes walk from a busy harbour, where my step-father likes to launch his boat and catch lines of silver-blue mackerel. I have a brother who sails in a small white yacht from Southampton, and a second brother who lives a ferry ride away on an island. In 2015, I also moved to live by the sea in the North West and I am content with my evening walks along the shore.
So, with an in-built love of the coast, in summer 2014 I was delighted to to travel to the far northern tip of the UK mainland. I had been invited by Fuse Gallery to create a photographic response to the experience and having visited the far north of Scotland before, it had always been one of those places that, for me, was filled with intrigue. I had looked on the map at this area many times, and wondered what it would be like to go there; I had almost reached it once or twice, but it wasn’t until this trip that I could finally stand on the edge of the mainland and look across to Orkney and beyond equipped with a collection of cameras including a vintage Brownie and a rather flimsy home built camera.
The July day brought warm sun and blue sky until around noon, then a cool haze, before the thickest sea fog rolled in over the land bringing with it a sense of disorientation and isolation. I was glad I had been out since very early morning, but continued to photograph despite the poor visibility. Throughout the day, I wondered how fellow photographers Sharon Harvey, Celia Jackson and Jim Stephenson were responding to the same brief but on the edges of the South, East and West coasts of the mainland.
The resulting photographs were varied in format, but also in light and colour due to the changeable conditions. The most surprising results were those I had taken with a small self-built plastic camera. I had used this camera to capture the sun reflecting off some flat orange rocks as it sparked like flames; I hoped for fire, water, earth and air together in one image. I had no idea if these photographs would turn out and, when the negatives came back to me the images had been vignetted by the simple plastic lens. Like planets suspended in space, the tiny details in the rocks and water had been given vastness. These images encompassed my sense of smallness and insignificance whilst standing on the very edge of the land.
I was delighted that these ‘sea planets’ were selected to be exhibited throughout summer 2014 as part of Bradford Beach exhibition at Fuse.
A selection of images from the same day:
I feel a new coastal project simmering.