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. 


  1. You've mentioned some of my favourite books here, I shall definitely be looking up the others.

  2. Hi Helen. Which ones are your favorites? Any others you can recommend?