23 April 2012

Friday 20th April

I drove over to Spurn last Friday, a typical April day with dramatic grey clouds, bright bits in between and the threat of a heavy shower at any time.  After Hull the landscape is very like that of North Lincolnshire, where I grew up: flat fields, ditches with stands of reed, fields of yellow oil seed rape starting to dominate with their loud yellow.  This all feels familiar and relatively stable (apart from the changing weather).  

Once on the peninsular things are in constant flux: tides, weather, exposure, light levels, visibility.  The view is constantly changing because of all these things, but there is always big sky and a wide horizon all around.

The view across the Humber forms a kind of arc of land, as if looking across a lake, with the north bank merging in the distance to the south bank of the estuary.  Across the water are Grimsby, Cleethorpes and the Humber bank industries, which become a string of twinkling lights at night.  Ships come and go all the time, up and down the estuary and out in the North Sea. 

The curve of the peninsular is very apparent at the northern end of it, so rather than looking down the spine of the spit you look across water or sand to the point and the lighthouse in the distance (it's about 3.5 miles long).

I have almost 2 hours walking on a small section of the western shore.  There is so much to take my attention and I don't know quite what to settle on so I decide to draw whatever catches my eye, try things out and not worry about the results.  I have to find a way into things, find a pattern of recording that is appropriate and fits with the ever-changing conditions.  The elements govern everything here.  Plans have to be flexible.

I find that about 2 hours outside in one go is enough, less if the weather is unkind.  To be able to retreat to the car or the Bird Observatory for a warm drink, some note taking and then a change of location or direction is necessary.  
I got really absorbed in drawing sand patterns; sketched bits and pieces on the tide line; made rubbings of a wooden groyne; picked up small items of washed up rubbish that could be used for printing; noted where there were pockets of rusty metal (dyeing potential), drift wood and cockle shells; so much potential everywhere.  Lots of thinking, planning and note taking.  My first couple of visits must be about absorbing the place, understanding how to work here and finding that potential.  Only after this period of discovery can I make some decisions about what I want to concentrate on and make the focus of my work here.

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