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Exploring impermanence through exhibitions, residencies and collaborative working practice

Edgelandia – Impermanent Edge 2020

Recipient of Open Call – Edgelandia from Penned in the Margins exploring the disappearance of the edge of landscape. The physical exhibition turned virtual http://www.edgelandia.com/2020/07/24/impermanent-edge/

UK – Brighton 2021. Billboards, Selected for PAUSE II – by BrightonArtistsNetwork and Hannigton Estates. Taking my chair for a walk to meet itself before it moves to its second location

France 2021 – Drawing Wind Forceful Alaric mountain winds, mother’s thread, local forest

France 2021 – Drawing Wind. Forceful Alaric mountain winds, my mother’s cotton, Alaric mountains

France 2021 – Drawn Circle local forest, swept pine needles

France 2021Ice drawings – Made on a day of intense heat and of local forest fires. Dandelion seeds, rain water Alaric soil

Sweden 2020FESTIVALEN Gothenberg. Performative Drawing – Sussex chalk against a backdrop of Swedish basalt

UK – Brighton 2021 ‘absence’ (copy of original handwoven steel jacket made for a forest in Sweden, still in situ) selected this year, UK 2021, for Hannington Shop Unit Brighton – @brightonartistsnetwork (image by Tom Illsley)

UK – Newhaven Festival, Sussex 2019. Holding the Fort – ‘Breathing Bricks’ – Dust Drawing – Sussex chalk from the local cliff falls

Hospital Bakery. Installations for Performance Piece. Sweden. 2018

Sweden 2018FESTIVALEN 13 Gothenberg, – install for performative drawing in old hospital bakery. Latex gloves, black cloth, flour

Sweden 2017Konstrunden in Blekinge county – Residency/Exhibtion – ‘What the Eye Doesn’t See’ Drawing with local thread and sunlight

4. Chair cast - Chinese silk, wax. Sweden 2017.

Sweden 2017 – Konstrunden i Blekinge countyCast of local chair

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UK, London 2017 Rising – Art Licks, St John Bethnal Green Gallery – Trace of my chair retrieved from my fallen cottage, East Yorkshire due to coastal erosion. Sussex chalk dust from cliff fall.

France, 2017 Folly – Capendu‘Drawing Sunlight’family thread and sunlight

UK, Brighton 2019 – Fabrica Gallery – UAL – Wimbledon – London 2018Drawing collaborations with Terrence Brett

Switzerland 2016 -Baar, Zug ‘Materiality of Place’Old Cobbelers – call out for local shoes and cotton from closed mill, flour on floor and silk cast shoes to reference past local industry

Jackets of Geneology. Sweden 2014

Sweden 2014 – Visit 14 Residency, Småland‘absence’Drawing with thread and sun-light. Steel jacket in forest/install of hand woven steel and cotton weave ‘absence’

Sussex 2014Local woodland – ‘Drawing a line’ – local chalk, blue pigment (non toxic)

Sweden 2014 – Visit 14 woodlands – – Drawing with ‘Falu Rödfärg -red earth paint’

film still

Film Stills 2013 – Sussex woodlands, East Yorkshire coastline, East Yorkshire coastline. Copy of Chinese Ancestral Jacket

UAL Wimbledon London 2013

Dust drawing and print of handmade jacket with red thread, re-interpreted from the original jacket made to be burnt for ancestors in China. (chalk from cliff fall, local charcoal powder).

Japan 2011, Lake Chuzenji

Chalk Throw’ Sussex chalk powder, Cornwall 2012 ‘Chalk Spill’ Sussex chalk –

UK 2012Burling Gap, Sussex Drawing chalk/Sussex, black basalt/Japan

Sweden 2011Mat och Friehet Residency – Installation (details) Chinese red thread, Sussex and Smalands Charcoal

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UK – Northumberland – 2010VARC, Collaboration with Karen Rann, ‘Temporary Connections’ silage wrap and sheep fleece

installation. red sand, silk, paper, slates. dimensions variable.

COAST Residency, Banff – Scotland 2009 red sand stone from cliff fall, line drawing/sea spill/local roof tiles/cast shoes and beach stones

UK, ScotlandBanff and Gamrie, Aberdeenshire. COAST Residency and Exhibition. Drawing circles, red earth from cliff fall and blue pigment on earth and snow in snow (non toxic)

detail, snow circle. snow, blue pigment. dimensions variable.
Dancing in Salt 'Sugar and Salt' Sweden 2004

Kunming, China – Malmo, Sweden 2002 Sugar and Salt – Facilitator for cross cultural collaboration

Tilted/ A Traced Village 2019 – 20. My diary blog. Impermanent edge: eastern eroding shorelines

Preamble This diary blog follows my traveling back to Skipsea, a place I’ve hardly been in the past 30 years or so since the day my cottage-chalet fell into the sea, or rather the day I went and found the cliff edge now inland from where I used to sit indoors and watch the sea, where I used to wake and look at the sunrise. After a surprised, disbelieving search, I realised the edge was now closer inland to what had been the view from the other side of the chalet, the cliff edge now inland from where I used to stand inside the door to see the sun set in the huge skies behind the muddy road, behind the scrubby wild hedge and far away over the ploughed fields beyond.
The East Yorkshire coast here is eroding faster and faster. An older ordnance survey map, priced in shillings and pence (6/6d) shows a few named washed away villages like Cleeton and further south, Hornsea Beck and slightly to the north two `Village, site of’, all marked in tiny gothic lettering. But the recent decimal coinage ordnance survey maps seem to have obliterated this record, leaving blank spaces perhaps showing that the sea has already washed the memory. This is about my beginnings and returns to the place of what sometimes gets grandly called a cottage, or rather had been so referred since chalet may incite images of larger, ornate, wooden structures secure in the mountains, rather than a small dwelling on the shifting clay (I was to find out called till) of the Yorkshire coast. This is part of my interest in and work on impermanence over the past three decades. I work mainly outside creating in landscapes, using materials of place such as sand, soil and local material cultures, sometimes moving and installing them in new locations to evoke memory, connections, relationships. Some of this work has concerned belonging, movement, loss, identities, and the unsettling changes, the impermanence that we may often find difficult to cope with and comprehend. In recent years my work has focused especially on eroding coastlines in East Yorkshire, where I once had the chalet that was taken by the sea, and East Sussex, where I currently live. The work is responsive and site-specific, often taking the materials of place to create images and spaces that are impermanent and will disappear over time.
As these places erode, settlements fall off the edge, leaving people and communities displaced. Over two decades ago I lost a small wooden dwelling to the sea; I managed to hold onto it for five years before it was washed over the cliff due to the erosion in this particular part of the Holderness coastline in East Yorkshire. This made me keenly aware of how communities are forced to resettle and share a sense of impermanence of place; how the earth is forever re-forming and moving, and yet there seems to be an invisible thread that appears to connect us to ‘fixed place’ through the stories and memories we weave into localities.The crumbling of the soil where my house once sat revealed fossils and the hidden history and geology beneath. The surface strata stayed with me and also my interest in the ‘edge’.

1 This is part of my interest in and work on impermanence over the past three decades. I work mainly outside creating in landscapes, using materials of place such as sand, soil and local material cultures, sometimes moving and installing them in new locations to evoke memory, connections, relationships. Some of this work has concerned belonging, movement, loss, identities, and the unsettling changes, the impermanence that we may often find difficult to cope with and comprehend. The ideas behind this piece were, through a series of visits, to re-connect to the shifting (land) scape and place, and my remembered histories. The memories of the small cottage I once owned, perched precariously close to the edge, bought for £500 and a bottle of whisky. It holding on for five years.

Retrieving a small chair and an old gramophone cabinet one particular spring time when I worried it may fall. These items retrieved, I still have, the chalet is gone. The coast continues to diminish, the edge recedes inland.2.

NIBBLED AWAY CLIFF. I want to make work with the community. Collect their stories about the place, find out what objects they would chose to take if they had suddenly to leave.I plan to create live drawings of their chosen objects on the beach, tracing them with chalk powder. Using chalk from cliff falls from where I now live on the south coast. The chalk from here runs up to the east coast as far as Flamborough Head, just north of Skipsea. A vein of whiteness beneath the terrafirma that open up to the vast cliff edges. There is impermanence everywhere, yet everything is connected.

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CHALK SPIll This particular edge for me began some years ago and now I will be revisiting and reconnecting.In 1990 I left with just my chair and gramophone cabinet. In 2012 I returned briefly, just to see the place and remember, and then not again until 2017. Each time I felt overwhelmed to see how much land had been lost to the sea. All the old railway carriages and chalets were now gone, new land had been purchased from a local farmer and new dwellings built, but with the relentless nibbling away of the cliff edge, they too will one day also be lost to the sea. The road was now marked private. In 2017 I travelled to East Yorkshire by train from my current home in Brighton, another disappearing edge of landscape on the south coast, to connect the present and past, memories, materials and impermanence of place. This time I brought with me my chair and made work on the edge and in the sea, close to where my place once sat.

4. CHAIR ON CLIFF EDGEIn 2019 I applied for the Edgelandia commission at Penned in the Margins. This has enabled returns and the diary blog here.
SCOTLAND – August/September 2019Late August and two artists, Xu Yun and Hong Shen, arrived from China. This is the beginning of a joint collaboration about the Outer Edge, with them and Kate Downie, on the west coast in Scotland and the east coast in China. We travelled up to Edinburgh, met Kate and went on to the Isle of Mull. I took my chair with me, since we were going to another significant coastal site. The north-west of Scotland is tilting upwards as the south-east of England is slowly sinking. Large land movements barely visible compared to the eroding chalk cliffs, and at a different tempo. On the shoreline in Mull I worked in the black basalt sand, with my chair. We made work together and individually. We are due to work and exhibit in China, in Qingdao on the eastern coast, in late February next year, and bring the materials back to show in Edinburgh. [This China part of the collaboration has been postponed, indefinitely at present.]Late SeptemberI heard I have an Edgelandia commission from Penned in the Margins. This has enabled me to make return to Skipsea, and to put together the diary blog here.

SKIPSEA VISIT – November 2019Britain has been soaked in rain over the past few days. I’m on a train from Brighton to Hull, a familiar journey, but I don’t recognise places as they lay buried under water, at times as though travelling over a lake. The two women serving in the train cafe say they have never seen it like this, the younger of the two, ‘we have to change the way we live to stop this happening’.I arrive in Hull, and pop into the bus information office to find out about buses to Skipsea.’Oh I wouldn’t get a bus there love’, says the woman behind the counter ‘only two buses a day return from Skipsea and trains don’t go there, you might get stuck!’Eventually I discover I can get a train further north and then a bus from there. But the timetables show that by the time the bus arrives at Skipsea, I will have no time, at least not enough, before having to leave, or as she warned, `get stuck’. A good friend offers to take me in her car once again.I check online that the roads are passable because of the flooding. We drive through East Yorkshire’s vast wide and upward, open skies. We arrive at the junction and drive down the road past the castle and through the village at Skipsea, and out along a straight road that abruptly falls off the cliff. Not a clean cut but a jagged edge.

5. DANGER DO NOT PROCCEEDThe road is now blocked two meters in length before the edge with concrete blocks and a red sign advising vehicles – DANGER coastal erosion, do not proceed. I walk beyond this to the ragged end of the road, and find there is a cracked line across the tarmac a metre or so from the edge. A parallel wavy scar mimicking the tide and marking where the road has begun to slope gently down toward its destination on the beach, and into the sea.I stand at the edge of the tarmacked road looking out onto the liminal space, the space between cliff and ocean on the precipice of change, cracks reveal themselves where the road will soon meet the sea, double yellow lines also soon to offer themselves to the ocean.6. DOUBLE YELLOW LINESIt’s a cold November day but the air is quiet and still. I’m not prepared to feel so overwhelmed despite the previous returns. The smell and vision of landscape, so familiar, the bleak beauty and continued disappearing of this place. I have a small bag of chalk dust brought with me from the eroding cliffs of Sussex. With this I trace the scar- like crack, leaving the chalk dust to also be returned to the sea where it was first formed.7. CRACKED ROAD AND CHALK.I take what still feels to be the familiar road, now signposted PRIVATE to vehicles, not tarmac but mud track, along the route where once my wooden chalet stood. All the disappeared chalets and old railway carriage cottages are now replaced by small caravans on small plots, and even a beautiful newly built two-storey wooden chalet painted blue, and a partially completed straw bale house. They are all here as long as the land is here.8. SMALL DWELLINGS and CARAVAN ON PRIVATE ROAD.Walking south along the uneven mud track means jumping along between puddles. As I get close to the end of the latest line of caravan-like dwellings, a very large sand coloured dog suddenly appears in the track ahead, it stops, I stop, it stares. Slowly it begins to come towards me, then faster. I turn and leave at a pace looking for a place to take cover if need be. I head back towards the broken road and north cliff path. The dog stops and stands, its boundary intact.During my stays there when I had the chalet, I never ventured north along the cliff. The chalet, the grassy land outside toward the edge, the beach and the sea were my places. Now the dog has changed my plans. I reach the road, look left along a receding black line, look right over the concrete slabs to the broken tarmac edge, and cross it. I walk north along what is a trodden out, forever moving footpath that surely must have once been more inland, and will soon disappear over the edge. It is now so, so close to the edge that the corner of my eye catches crumbs of sticky till clay and small lumps of muddy earth as they fall and roll down the cliff face, falling onto the beach below.9. CLOSE to THE EDGE – silhouette of manSilhouetted against the light, a man is walking towards me; we both stop and exchange some words. He tells me he has not walked this way for a long time, although he lives at the local caravan-site. He has just signed his lease there for the next 20 years, ‘reckon that will see me out’. He chats freely about the eroding cliffs like most people would about the weather, the erosion is such an everyday reality here. He mentions that in the last of the surviving bungalows, just ahead, which now sits so precariously close to the edge, the occupants have very recently been given notice to leave. I am hoping some folks are still there when I next return. I am so eager to make contact with these occupants but this time is short and I wish to tread gently. It cannot be at all easy having notice served on your home. I plan to return in February. I will rent a caravan close to the edge in the hope of making more contact with some of the local folks.Looking at the sea, so very calm, out from the quiet beach on this still day, it is difficult to imagine how the tides will turn and inevitably sweep away the dwellings I see.I continue my walk, documenting the sinking of edges, the sea so calm this day. I try to find access down to the beach, close to where the last of the bungalows sits. I meet and ask another local man how I may best climb down, he explains the cliff path has been washed away. He offers to walk with me further along the cliff to where there is a make-shift path created by the locals from bits of brick, broken house and caravan concrete foundations, a kind of zig-zag track dug into the clay and mud. He insists on watching me safely down until I reach the beach, we give each other thumbs up, he turns and continues with his day.Down below the brown muddy cliff, there are places with fallen lumps piled underneath that tantalise the tides and are being slowly consumed by the water. On the huge open beach, where sky melds with the ocean, today there is a seemingly gentle, quietly lapping sea, but which I know can turn in to a wild devouring entity, eating away at this soft mud, clay edgeland.SKIPSEA VISIT – December 2019It is a very cold clear December day. My friend drives me to the road’s end. I stand on the edge, my arms outstretched to mark where the ocean meets the sky. I ask my friend to record the image. She will come to pick me up just before sun set. I stop and breathe in the view, the place, the distance… imagining all that has already gone… the shift and pull of the tide, moving in and out.One The edge, arms outsteteched. Image BY Jane FareIn just one month the cliff edge appears to have been nibbled away at a pace. It takes a short while before I find a place where it is safe to gently c clamber down, o onto a vast open empty beach. I walk along the trace of the tide line, watching my footprints being taken away. I am reminded of Jean Sprackland’s book Strands, where she describes footprints revealed due to climatic change, footprints from thousands of years ago in the late Mesolithic to mid Neolithic period, which appeared only to be completely washed away for good on the next incoming tide. Hidden for so long, revealed briefly, and observed just by chance, only to be finally washed away, to vanish forever. I find this somehow sad yet beautiful.There is sudden feeling of urgency, wanting to somehow record something in that instant, wishing to make a mark. I notice the deepening cracks in the tarmac. The next bit of cliff to fall. Using chalk powder I trace the black cracks. This is powder created from chunks of chalk from the cliff falls of East Sussex, brought with me from the eroding south east coast further south, the lost home and current home connected by shoreline and sea. I document the marked cracks, leaving the chalk drawing to wash away with the next rain fall, offering the chalk back to beach and sea from where it first came.11 CHALK CRACKSChalk that talks of the metamorphosis of sea to land into sea; of epochs laid down by minute crustaceans, leaving behind the poetry of themselves’ an extract taken from the poem by Grace Nichols from her book, Picasso I Want My Face Back pg 34. Published my Bloodaxe books, 2009I trace the black cracks in the tarmacked road nibbled away, soon to surrender to the sea. Using powdered chalk collected from the cliff falls of SussexDown on the wide open beach I carry on. I work quickly to keep the biting cold from creeping beneath my layered clothes. I create brief chalk sketch pieces on the damp sand. All too suddenly, the sun is sinking fast… my friend arrives, and I sit in the welcoming embrace of the warm air of her car, permeating the layers of cloth to my chilled bones. It has been a brief return but a week after the winter solstice, a short day still yet to realise the anticipated longer hours of light. It’s been a chance to mark the place in winter and the time near the end of the calendrical year, and its temporality, through the sketches part engraved on the sand that will have long vanished by time tomorrow’s sunrise lights the beach.

JANUARY 2020 – SwedenThe eroding cliffs stay with me in the new year, I am invited to perform at the Festivalen13 performance festival in Gothenberg. The performance seems to take on a life of its own, gesticulating cliff falls outside in the cold, wind and wet, and my inability to control its direction, shape, structure, time or place of movement.

12 SWEDENBRIGHTONBack on the chalk of Brighton, and within a space of only weeks since my last visit to Skipsea, there has been a sudden escalated surge in the devouring of the cliff edges there. In January, the speed of the erosion is covered in the national press. The sense of urgency is even more pressing. I want to return very soon to meet with the people there.A friend who lives further up the coast where erosion is also an issue sends me newspaper articles, and other friends phone to let me know about media coverage of the escalated eroding edges.‘It’s a monster’: the Skipsea homes falling into the North Sea: Residents on fastest-eroding coastline in northern Europe told of ‘imminent risk’The Guardian 18th January 2020. It says:`A combination of stormy weather and rising sea levels caused more than 10 metres of cliff to disappear from a 2-mile stretch of coast in just nine months last year, compared with the annual average of 4 metres. In just six months, three strips of coastline lost nearly double what they expected to lose in a year.’The article interviews residents and the council, but also points out that:`The erosion of Yorkshire’s soft clay coast is not a new phenomenon: about 30 villages have been lost to the sea since the Middle Ages. The steady nibbling away began about 10,000 years ago, at the end of the last ice age, but the global climate emergency has accelerated the process. Rising sea levels and more frequent volatile storms have seen huge chunks of land disappear in the past 20 years.’One of the links in the piece goes to an earlier article in same newspaper, from autumn 2006,`Living on the edge: Britain’s coastline has remained more or less intact since the end of the last ice age. But as sea levels rise, erosion is accelerating and more than a million homes are now under threat. Is the only solution for us to abandon the shore?’The Guardian 9th October 2006.Coincidentally, the article refers in text to the eroding chalk cliffs of East Sussex, close to my current home, and has a picture of cottages on the cliff edge being demolished there, a place where there are no sea defences. `Natural processes will be allowed to take their course at Birling Gap [East Sussex, near Beachy Head]. The retreating cliff will remain pristine white, and evidence of any human intervention will in time be removed by the sea’.The Guardian 9th October 2006But the article also refers back to East Yorkshire, including an interview with the principal engineer for the East Riding of Yorkshire Council, who says of the erosion:“This is a sacrificial coast… it feeds the Humber, prevents it overdeepening, and the Lincolnshire beaches, which protect the low land behind them. And some of it goes to Holland.” National news of the erosion continues sporadically to the end of the month: `Fastest collapsing cliffs in northern Europe leaves Yorkshire coastal homes on brink of falling into sea: Residents in Skipsea regularly wake up to find chunks of garden have dropped away as land recedes’ The Independent, Thursday 30th January 2020. This also reported `10 metres of land falling into the sea in the last year alone’ and with an aerial photo.But its not as though its new news. As I’m told, just two years ago the local paper in Hull pointed to the average and the more extreme:`Recent historical records suggest the soft boulder clay cliffs between Skipsea and Spurn Point are eroding at an average rate of between 1.5 and 2.5 metres a year. However, in some cases up to 20 metres of cliff have been known to disappear overnight.’ Hull Daily Mail 23rd January 2018.Back in 2013 the BBC, reporting on villages lost on this coast since Roman times, said that `Today it is Skipsea that is on the front line. There is an annual rate of land erosion of nearly two metres.’ And `For the residents of Skipsea, on the Holderness coast in the North East of England, coastal erosion is a fact of life. As the years pass the village has seen the sea claim more and more land and the future is far from certain’.
February 2020I’m booked to stay in caravan called Lovely Jubbly at Skipsea Sands caravan park.
SKIPSEA VISIT – March 2020I travel from Brighton up to Hull by train, and the winds are picking up. The forecasts are for strong winds in Skipsea. From the train window I see a flag in a field being used to scare off crows. It will be good to somehow try and capture/catch that wind. The winds that are known to add to escalating erosion of the Holderness coast.In Hull. I buy bamboo sticks and some white cloth to create flags for the beach, drawing with movement, thinking of white to reflect the ebb of waves, and the tidemark of sea on the edge of land, and to connect the sea to sky and trace the edgland. Also thinking of the bungalows that are so soon to go, and the inhabitants sadly having to leave, and the white flags representing a surrendering to the inevitable…13.CARVAN AT NIGHTI reach my caravan Lovely Jubbly rented out by Jason. It is a welcoming cosy place, although I soon discover can be very chilly as the winds seeps through every little gap and crack. My first night’s sleep is disturbed, the caravan rocking from side to side in the wind. Reminding of recent human some – oft-time illusions of conquering nature.

The following night I decide to sleep in the tiny room where, if I stretch out my arms, my hands can touch opposing walls. It reminds me of a convent room I visited when looking for digs in my youth. The tiny room feels safer, should the caravan tumble in the winds. My thoughts go to the folks now living so preciously close to the edge, knowing the winds will be adding to the sea surge licking the mud cliffs away and its spray will be tapping on their windows14 DESKI settle into my new base, I set up a desk, turn up the heating, while howling winds of 40 knots plus find their way under the door and through window cracks. I wrap myself in a blanket and make my flags on bamboo sticks, trying to decide their best length for the vast open beach while I’m sat in the tiny caravan. I will work with the wind and draw out the edge. I play Olafur Arnalds, Icelandic folk music which, despite the winds, seems to fit perfectly with the bleak silence of the place.

The rain now lashing outside, but I manage to sleep. I wake to the sound of winds still howling, the feel of the caravan rocking, but the sky is blue, and the clouds running at a pace, their skimming through the sky making them part of the sea beneath.The tide will be at its lowest by 11 a.m. I wrap myself in layers of warmth, and venture outside, and look for the place to get down to the beach. I’m carrying my tightly stitched flags and sticks. The fierce gusts nearly take me off my feet. But the light is amazing, bright and penetrating, and rhythmical with the scudding clouds across a milky blue sky. I find the make shift zig-zag path cut into the cliffs made by local folks, and clamber down the brick pieces and bits of concrete foundations once used for caravans which are now long removed.Down the path, below the cliff, the beach looks so broad, open, and huge, wet and trying to dry in parts with the tide far out.I unfurl the flags, pushing them deep into the wet sand, placing them to delineate an inward tidal line. As a solitary human working on such a vast empty beach I attract the attention of a dog and what turns out to be his lone dog walker going by. Curiosity brings them over, Charlie and his dog Roy. We chat about the eroding coast and the weather. They continue on their way , I carry on working, setting up flags, watching the sea return from its outward limit of the day, and encroach on their footings, while the sticks and fabric flow with the wind, attempting to withstand the blowing of air and flowing of water. Their footings erode, they fall, and one gets quietly taken, quite suddenly, when I’m not looking.15 white flags, bungalowsMarch – Final day in SkipseaIts my final day here, before I will go back to Hull and then onto Brighton to make plans for another return in a couple of months, though there is uncertainty in the air due the Covid virus.I go down to the beach, carrying my flags and their sticks.16. FLAGS STANDINGI begin responding to the winds, playing with the edge of scape and sea….A couple I see watching me from afar whilst walking their dog as my white flags have flapped in the wind. They approach me, ask me what I am doing. We talk of the eroding coast. He offers to share their secret about a quiet place they have found on the coast. I promise I will not say where. I ask them what they would save should they have to leave their home suddenly. They both say photographic prints is what they would save, and ”we wondered if this would be the same for younger folks as everything has now become digitised?”I decide to take my flags to the water’s edge. Despite the ebb, the wind is fierce and the sand wet, and although I push the bamboo deep into the wet sand, they all slowly fall to the ground, gracefully, apart from one. I film them and then lay them all flat, thinking of the cottages soon to fall.I wait for a while,for the tide to come and catch them. As I doa wagtail appears.Goes right up to one piece,pecks gently at the end of the bamboo,as the ebbing flows in,I am filming the whole time,the wagtail and the tide and the sun just coming out at the right time…I’m so excited to be catching all this,as the tide ebbs away and the bird walks out of shot as though on cue,I realise I hadn’t clicked on ‘video’, and my camera appears to have… frozen…?I took the battery out, and put it back in to find a file that contains no image. I am saddened but for only a moment. I quickly turn the loss into a happening that is now stored in my memory rather than stored in film, perhaps something I will remember more due to losing it. I am reminded of Jean Sprackland and the disappearing footprints in her book Strands, the Mesolithic – Neolithic footprints. The researcher she was with at that moment took out his camera to record the footprints before the tide took them away forever, only to find his batteries were flat. So it became only something they both saw, written in word for others to see in their mind’s eye, the impermanence of everything.17. FLAGS IN THE SEAI am exhausted but decide I must take advantage of this tide and the wind and the short opportunity to create the piece, and so lay the flags flat again and wait for the tide to come and take them. Then a new piece is created that wouldn’t have been had I not stayed.
As I walk back, hungry and tired, I see the chalk frames I had made earlier on the sand. I stop to take an image and then I notice the shadowed cliff on the sand, and I decide to trace its shadow using the Sussex chalk dust I have brought with me, as the tiny brilliant white of this beautiful material catches the sun. The material and line is illuminated by the sun, but as quickly as I draw the trace outline the sun moves, and the brilliance of the line is lost.18 CHALK DRAWING OF CLIFF SHADOWI drag my body home to the caravan, hungry and tired but full of the memory of place.I had been putting it off, knocking on the doors of the folks still living in the bungalows. It felt somehow intrusive, explaining I am an artist wishing to make a work about the coast and stories of folks impacted by the loss of their homes on the edge. I managed to knock on one door; the woman who answered was very friendly but as I began to explain to her, I knew then I could not do this. Though I would dearly love to share their stories for others to know, this felt far too raw. We chatted about other things, I thanked her for her time and left.This day I am to leave. I wish I could stay longer.As I lock the caravan a woman called Julie saying in the caravan opposite says a cheery hello. She is so friendly and before I know it I have been invited into her caravan. She has a lovely plot with a view over a field with the sea beyond.I meet other folk, I am invited into their caravan homes. They share their stories of things they would chose to take should they have to suddenly leave their homes. Some very poignant. I offer to make work in response to the words they share when I next return to Skipsea. I am still in touch with them and plan to make the work when I am able to next return.For now I share a selection of words from just a few of the folks I met who either live or have had lived in Skipsea until the time allows for me to return to create work back in Skipsea incorporating the poigniont strories of others in a piece of work there.These are some Julie’s words”The coast erosion has been evident in our life time both from visiting the east coast and reports on television and news paper , one that really sticks in my mind is the one of the hotel in Scarborough being taken by the sea I think this was probably early 1980s , it was on the local news on telly a programme called Calendar .”I ask what she would take with her if she had to suddenly leave her caravan home, she explained she would tear a piece of wall paper from the window with the view of the sea.”My reason for choosing the piece of wall paper as the thing I would grab and take with me is ….I would always have chosen a home with a view of the sea and so every day I would look out to sea from my window , my window wall I would probably wall paper in a seaside themed wallpaper .So taking the piece with me would always remind me of the beautiful but cruel sea. So I suppose the memories would be good and bad , but I would hope that the good memories would out compete the bad ones .”She continues to share some of her thoughts about the eroding cliffs”Into the here and now when at our caravan on Skipsea sands we walk our dogs daily along the coastal path and often we have a conversation regarding how much the sea has taken the land, and when we stay for a length of time we have had little bets on how long a certain piece would be before it fell onto the sands .Over the past 2 years we have noticed just how much has fallen in , and also that in some areas the sea takes the land away quicker than in others .I could go on forever it’s such a interesting but sad subject” Julie19 FRAMESThe sun is bright, I would love to make just one more piece and continue to meet people, to collect more of their thoughts a stories. As I prepare to return, I must come back to the world outside of the wind, rain, sea, sand and my making. With news of this new virus spreading I feel somehow cut off and safe here, but my heart also wants to return soon to be close to those I love.I say goodbye to this little caravan that has served me well, and let me stay so very close to the beach and broken road.Whilst waiting for my lift back I notice that the cafe is open and there’s a milling around of people. The camp site is officially open today and has characters dressed as birds and pink unicorns welcoming children. There’s a buzz and excitement as the holiday folks arrive even while the folks in the bungalows pack up to leave for good.20 BIRD COSTUME IN CAFEHullI returned to Hull to gather my things, and find huge uncertainties about the virus. There’s no real advice or information. I bring my journey forward in order to return home in time, just in case.But I still have a couple of days and on the final day before I get the train, I had prearranged to meet Will Mayes from the Geography department at the University of Hull. Just as I turn up, he receives news that the University is possibly going to close the following day due the Covid pandemic. If that’s so, he has stuff to do, to prepare, to take away with him for work. I am about to leave when his colleague Byrony Caswell invites me into her office next door, while he prepares. She assures me he will return to meet with me. There is a wonderful sense of calm in her office as she so generously began to take me on a geological journey along parts of the Holderness Coast. She explains the formation of chalk – cociliphor, and Skipsea Till, and I frantically take notes. Byrony recommends Peter F Rawson is the man to look at.She speaks of the movement of rocks that the force of melting ice shifted from far off places to eventually arrive in Skipsea. For me it’s like the Shifting of Place. Will returns and talks of the Scarborough till that became unstable and slippable in June 1993, causing the ground underneath the hotel to surrender to the sea taking the hotel with it.Till, in geology, is unsorted material deposited directly by glacial ice and showing no stratification. It is often referred to as boulder clay or glacial till. I discover it is the shift of geological material that has travelled some great distance, carried by glacial movement and melt during the last ice age. Made up of clay and boulders of differing sizes. The boulders can carry marking from the force of glacial flow, helping to understand the direction from where they journeyed.I’ve got lots to look up, think about, draw on, and prepare for next time.Later, I contact some people I know who lived in Skipsea. Cea, who I know from Hull, she lived in there for three years and loved it. I ask her what she would have taken with her had she had to leave suddenly.“There was an old black and white postcard – from about 1926 – I had it in a clip frame on the wall. It was of the house at Shingle Street in Suffolk where I was born – that’s another house on an East Coast beach that is under threat. Skipsea and Shingle Street can blend together in my dreams sometimes. I would take with me the picture of Shingle Street, a place very much in my heart.” CeaThe following day I’m on the train, excited, tired and thinking, while watching the view change. There’s also the virus uncertainty and unknown, an informationless void.21. FRAMESAprilI got back to Brighton that day, just a few days before lockdown was announced. My plans have to change, since it doesn’t really look that likely the next visit will happen, nor the planned exhibition.22 RETURN TO BRIGHTON – CHALK CLIFF and my SKIPSEA CHAIRMay / JuneDuring my last site stay, in March, a perfect environment enabled me to make new and unexpected work in response to forceful winds, low tide and wide expansive beach. I also met with some of the lovely folk of Skipsea, collecting their stories, and returned home just days before lockdown. But the changed situation meant postponement of intended exhibitions in East Yorkshire, in Skipsea and Hull.Instead, an online visual journey of work, reflecting the impermanence of the edge and shifting coastal landscapes and geology, will be created. Selected organisations and galleries have offered to host one image each on their websites for a short period, before it disappears and is briefly replaced by words, referencing its disappearance into the sea. This disappearance of image progressively disrupts the online tour, just as the coastal edge vanishes into impermanent memory, occasionally attempted to be retained in written and visual record.I am so thankful to all the folks I met in Skipsea and Hull who shared their stories with me, to and Will Mayes and Byrony Caswell at the University of Hull for their generous time just a day before the university site had to close due to lockdown. To Laurence Hill who gave me the idea of the possibility of an n line visual journey and to all selected organisations and galleries who offred to become a part of the visual journey.Finally thanks to Edgelandia, Penned in the Margins, for offering me the commission, to Nick, Tom and Kate for all the work they do behind the scenes.Instead, an online visual journey of work, reflecting the impermanence of the edge and shifting coastal landscapes and geology, will be created. Selected organisations and galleries have offered to host one image each on their websites for a short period, before it disappears and is briefly replaced by words, referencing its disappearance into the sea. This disappearance of image progressively disrupts the online tour, just as the coastal edge vanishes into impermanent memory, occasionally attempted to be retained in written and visual record.

 

 

 Collaboration with artist Karen Rann ‘Temporary Connections’Silage wrap and sheep fleece for VARC Northumberland  2010

Temp-Con-1   2011-08-temp-con-6

Installation (details) Chinese red thread, Sussex and Smalands Charcoal – Mat och Friehet Residency, Sweden – 2011

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA   SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Drawings – ‘Blood Line’ – ‘Blood Spill’ red earth from cliff fall – COAST residency Scotland 2009

drawing 3  water2

‘Walking Drawing in Snow’ marked in blue pigment – COAST residency Scotland 2009

 

Local earth, roof slates, combined with Chinese cotton ancestral suits, suspended stones cast from Chinese silk. COAST Residency – Gamrie, Scotland 2009

 

Erosion – Blood Line – Local red earth from cliff fall, blue pigment (non toxic) Chinese red thread. COAST exhibtion, Banff Scotland 2009

blood ties

Dancing in Salt‘ Facilitator cross cultural collaboration, SUGAR & SALT’ Sweden-China 2002 – Image by Carl Rytterfalk

Dancing in Salt 'Sugar and Salt' Sweden 2004