I’ve been back to Spurn for the first time since my residency ended 3 1/2 years ago. It felt so good walking the whole peninsula again, some parts very familiar and some bits significantly changed by the elements since my last visit. Some great wildlife encounters made the day really special too: a dolphin (sadly dead, but fascinating to see), a short-eared owl, a lizard, curlew, deer, butterflies…
The lighthouse is now spick and span in its newly re-furbished state, with a new coat of paint inside and out. It is now open to the public regularly and there is some sensitive interpretation inside to help the visitor understand the history of this wonderful heritage building and the unique location it overlooks.
Luckily it was a beautiful day, although with a cold wind, so the views were long-ranging and at their very best. As ever there was all sorts of weird and wonderful (and not so wonderful) stuff washed up on the beach, including various balls of fishing line caught up into bundles with other debris attached, like un-natural tumble-weeds.
I took along some of the work I made during my residency and have donated a piece to The Wildlife Trust, who manage Spurn. This will go up either in the lighthouse or in one of the other visitor spaces. The other pieces I took with me are now on display in the Bluebell Cafe in Kilnsea. It’s lovely to have some of my work back there, where it came from and where it belongs.
I visited Spurn again, this time to meet with Andrew (Outer Humber Officer for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust) to talk through various practicalities and possibilities for my up-coming residency there.
It was also a chance for me to have a couple of good walks and start to get my head around the place that is going to be my focus for much of the rest of this year.
One small development has been finding out that the blog used by previous Spurn artists is no longer accessible. It is still available to view and I somehow managed to post on it a couple of weeks ago, but it is no longer possible to do that so it was agreed I should make a fresh start and hope that anyone used to visiting the old one can find it!
I would like to introduce you to my exciting up-coming project. I will be Artist in Residence at Spurn Point Nature Reserve during 2012. This is something that I’ve been planning for over a year now and I’ve been itching to announce it but held off until things were a little more certain.
Although I’m still waiting for the outcome of a funding bid, I felt it was time to let you know about what I’m planning. The project will start properly in April and run through to September, when there will be an exhibition weekend at Spurn in the old lighthouse. There will then be a gallery tour during the following months. More on that another time.
You can follow the project once things get going here and find out more about previous Spurn artists here. You can also see some of the photos I took last time I visited Spurn here.
> Spurn point in East Yorkshire isn’t an island, but in a way it feels like it is. Standing at the top of the old lighthouse that is almost at the tip of this long spit of land there was sea almost all around. The last lighthouse I wrote about was on the south coast and the Woolf reference was tied up with the other places I visited on that trip: visiting gardens to feed into my dissertation research. The dissertation is nearly completed and, although I’m now really consumed with my studio work and the final push of this degree, my mind is also on what may come next. Growing up on the North Lincolnshire Coast, south of the Humber, the view across the estuary to Spurn point on the north bank was a familiar one. This week I got that view in reverse, looking across the water from Spurn to the south bank, complete with its landmark: Grimsby Dock Tower (OK, not the most spectacular landmark in the world, but one that is tied up with my past, and in this flat landscape anything tall can be seen from a long way away). I have visited Spurn before and certainly did during my time working for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, who own and manage the reserve, but I don’t know it well and I’m intrigued by this strange landscape. I was lucky enough to visit on a beautiful spring day with bright sunshine and blue skies and had the most magnificent views as a result. The tide was down, in fact about as low as it ever gets, so there was a whole network of sand bars and channels exposed right the way round the sweep of the spit.
Most people don’t get the view from the top of the lighthouse and so I felt doubly lucky to have this privilege and on such a gorgeous day. From this vantage point, looking back up the spit of sands and marram grass…
and down to the point, where the life boat station is…
you realise just how narrow the land is here. And it is constantly shifting. A little way back up the coast from the reserve I was reminded of the constant change by this: The road stops precariously, broken off above the beach, and these static caravans perch in the same way, waiting for the next bit to crumble into the sea.
I hope to get to know this part of the world better, but in the mean time I have rather a lot of stitching to do…