But where can I buy all the pretty???

Visit Vagabond Romantics shop now to browse and buy altered art, wearable collage, and lovingly curated craft materials unearthed from the farthest reaches of granny's attic.

Friday 4 November 2016

More Thoughts from the Mermaid's Grotto

It's been a long time since I dreamed of seeing the ocean, and I've walked on a lot of beaches since that first one some 30 years ago. This year, this summer, on the beach I now consider "my" beach - that has been different. This is the first beach I have really come to know. But I have spent less than a year with my beach now, so there's still a long way to go to familiarise myself with her many moods and seasons.

I'm sure I cut a strange figure on the strand, in my linen smock, the capacious pockets weight down by shells and damp from being carelessly trailed through tide pools. Short, squat, and tipping into middle age, I approach the beach with the tireless fascination of a child or a dog (though my enthusiasm is a good deal quieter!). Oftentimes with my back to the sea, I crouch over tide pools or kneel on damp sand to scrutinise the tiniest of shells. Time ceases and I can find hours have passed while the salt spray has dried on the cuffs of my rolled up trousers and the tide which has crept in unnoticed threatens to carry my treasures away. Most times it is only the fatigue in my muscles or the darkening sky which drives me, somewhat resentfully, away.

I've come to know my beach pretty well this summer. Under the cliffs there are limpets by the score. The estuary yields small cockles and broken fragments. High up on the shingle is the place to scavenge driftwood, mermaid's purses and whelks. As the weather turns colder and the beach empties of holiday makers, there will be tiny shells as fine and transparent as a baby's fingernail. Sea potatoes tangle in the seaweed at the strandline, I know they won't survive the journey home intact but I can't resist collecting them anyway. When the Gulf Stream arrives, shoals of By-the-Wind-Sailors litter the beach with their indigo lips and transparent sails. I've come to recognise the clay where my feet will slip, and learned the hard way that it's best not to kneel on the peat slabs where the ancient forest emerges from the waves at low tide.

With each step along the strandline, I feel calmer, more centred, more rooted in my environment. I knew all along this would translate to my artwork, sometimes it just takes awhile to make the connections. Now that I have begun building the Mermaid's Grotto collection, it feels like the pieces have been in me all along, I was just waiting for the tides to turn so I could uncover them. 

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