Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ebb tidal text sculptures...three gone, three left!

Night swimmers: 'Far from harm, locked in each others' arms. Night swimmers in a dream of the sea'
This all happened as a result of kayaking  and beachcombing over the summer in Shetland's St Magnus Bay.

Our house sits on the shoreline, and pottering around in boats and canoes is a big part of our summer life, as well as walking our dodgy dogs along the beach. Scranning (local word) for anything the sea may deliver is an isles pastime I've loved since coming here, and of course with the kayak you can scran on otherwise inaccessible beaches.

I began retrieving interesting pieces of wood (some very large lumps, too, which are being dried for future use) and then sea glass, marine plastics and other detritus. You tend to find smoothed and polished bits of broken bottle and ceramic in pockets, near where it was originally dumped, and Hillswick, our village, is particularly good for that, as the oldest pub in Shetland used to be sited there (the building, The Booth, still is). Presumably a lot of old bottles used to be disposed of in an environmentally unfriendly fashion!
Watering: 'The shattered desert tree is not dead. It waits only for its moment'

Anyway I started messing about with bits of sea-delivered stuff, along with little slivers of text, all sea and island related. I like the idea of combining poetry, haiku, opaque sentences, in something visual, and for that matter physical. Something with a specific, intended meaning. I used pastel and acrylic paint, ink and watercolour to modify some of the found objects. And it's nice to do something that isn't just battering on a word processor, or talking into a camera or microphone. Call it a hobby!

We have thousands of old Ballachulish and Welsh slates in the garden left over from restoring the house, and I came up with the notion of creating wall hangings, using thick copper wire as both a method of mounting the plaques, and as something kind of warm and physically attractive in its own right. I made half a dozen or so pieces, carefully cleaning sterilising all the wood and organic material (microwave), and sealing the finished items with aerosol watercolour fixative. All the pieces were signed 'Ebb', dated and a single square from a 1948 Ordnance Survey Map of Shetland incorporated in each.

Months passed. I lost confidence and interest. Too busy, for one thing. And then this past weekend we had a 'Bake It For The Beatson' do and the local village hall, and, encouraged by our friend Gill, I took some of the Ebb 'tidal text sculptures' along. Hey presto, (some) people liked them (particularly children, who I think fancied having a go at making them), and three now have new homes. Money actually changed hands!
Seachange: 'The sea changes all, but in the end will itself remain unaltered'

They're just a wee bit of a spare time activity, some are better than others, and you may think they're just the usual ham-fisted amateur dabbling by people who hang about seashores. But anyway, here are the ones that have gone. There's three more for sale over on Etsy, with all profits going to the Beatson Cancer Charity, the clinic in Glasgow to which we owe so much.

Just thought I'd mention it.

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