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’ve moved studios. I now have a space in a studio community in Keighley, a town not far from where I live. I’ve spent a couple of days unpacking and settling in and I think I’m going to be very happy working there. I have a window! The building we’re in is an old mill (textile I assume) and there is no heating, so layers of clothing are a must but that doesn’t bother me. In that respect it’s a bit reminiscent of working in the dis-used lighthouse at Spurn (but the view isn’t as good) with a few more home comforts – that really was basic.
Anyone who has been following my work over the last year or so will know that I like an unusual gallery space. This week last year I was exhibiting in the old lighthouse at Spurn – I can’t believe it’s been a whole year. Well, the next unconventional space is an old 1960s Sprite caravan that Stef and Ian Mitchell of Duckett & Jeffreys run as a touring gallery space. Over the next two weeks it won’t be touring but will be parked up outside their house in a stunning location in the Yorkshire Wolds. Stef and Ian turn their house into a gallery four times a year and invite artists to show their work. I was thrilled to be invited to do a ‘caravan takeover’.
I’m showing some of my Gifts from the Pavement work, including a few new pieces. I took my work over there yesterday in beautiful autumn sunshine. It was tempting to linger in the dry valleys that are so typical of the wolds, amidst pheasants and buzzards and berry-heavy hedgerows. Sadly I had to get back to do other things. I did get a sneek peek at some of the work going up in the house, particularly Helen Booth‘s and I really do recommend getting over there as there is some lovely stuff. There are directions to find Canada House here and there are some lovely images of my work going up over here. The exhibitions are open between 11 and 6 daily until 13 October. If nothing else it’s worth just to see this lovely part of the world!
After a few hectic days with excited children and family coming and going I am having a quiet end to the year. I have a bit of space to catch up with myself.
In that strange waiting time between Christmas and new year I had two afternoons, two walks in Lincolnshire’s fields, empty of people and drained of colour but then filled with other colour, different winter colour, the earth gone to sleep.
One on the wolds:
gently rolling; lines of field edge and combed earth; hedge and pathway; footprints on saturated ground; a smell of the sea wafting inland on the stiff breeze, which then brings rain and stinging cold.
A second on the coast:
salt marsh keeping the sea at bay with a white line of breaking waves way out beyond the gullied expanse; even further away my familiar lighthouse clear over the water; a bitter wind; blue light in the gloaming and collections of birds forming almost murmurations.
Now back at home the memories of them intermingle.
I went to Spurn last week to collect the rest of my work from the lighthouse. I also had various meetings to fit in that day but I felt it was important to allow myself a little time on the beach. The light was absolutely glorious.
I felt that I was going back to say goodbye, but actually I was saying ‘thank you’ and ‘see you again soon’. I now understand how Spurn is firmly under my skin.
There were various interesting items haning about on the beach. I’d seen this lump of metal on previous occassions and wondered about trying to collect it to use for printing. I tried picking it up… surely it was too heavy… could I bring the car closer? Not really… in the end I decided to carry it (struggle with it) the few hundred metres along the beach to my car. It now sits in my front garden waiting to be played with…
My head is full of lists and logistics for the coming week. There is just a week to go now before my residency exhibition in the lighthouse at Spurn. Most of the work is finished: I’ve spent the week stitching into Spurn Cloth #1; prints are back from the framers; cards and postcards are made; the book is with the printer; my interpretation film is complete and equipment arrived…
There is still a whole list of things to do but I can’t wait now to get over there on Monday and spend time putting my work in the space it was made for and about.