It all began with woods. They are mixed deciduous woods and
I can be there in less than 5 minutes. I have written about them before. At the
moment the big scary dog with the red eyes has curtailed my wood adventures. I don’t
like to re-trace my steps when I visit and avoiding the dog makes it a longer
circuit. That’ a story for another day.
I had been to visit the woods before a trip to see Resistant
but Persistent and the Domesticated Bohemian. Arriving a little late, I explained that I
had been dawdling in the woods. Both avid readers, they often make a literary
connection and this was no exception.
“Have you read Wildwood?
No – who’s that by then?
It’s a great book by a chap called Roger Deakin”
After a hunt for this gem in a pile of books, a high and very wide stack. A hard back copy of Wildwood was liberated from a tight space and passed to me on loan.
The book is an absolute delight and inspired me to order a copy for myself plus two other books by Roger Deakin. With great excitement I collected my triplet of books from the post office depot in Outer Mongolia (excited about the books not the trip to Outer Mongolia). My treat was; and still is, to read them slow time, no skimming permitted, a chapter at a time, in bed before going to sleep. On holiday in Wales my holiday treat was to read the occasional chapter soaking in a hot bath after an epic walking adventure in the Brecon Beacons.
In one chapter, Roger discusses driftwood and how it is not as abundant as it was. He describes an artistic friend who uses driftwood in her pieces. Earlier this year I went on a Roger Deakin inspired trip to the seaside. I went on a driftwood hunt at Seaford.
He was right. There were no large pieces of wood, along the tide line. At first there was nothing for me to find. I toiled over the stones, walking into the headwind and gradually got my eye in. I had to look and think small and work out where the tide been. It started with pieces of string. Short, scraps of brightly coloured plastic string and rope scattered amongst the stones in twists and tangles. Initially I dismissed this I wanted wood.
Gradually I began to find shards of smooth, bleached wood; fragments of much larger constructions that had been broken down and washed ashore. I found lumps of blacked wood, burnt perhaps by beach fires. Lumps of cork; a smooth piece of wood with paint remnants – a lurid turquoise; and then some real treasure. Some wood that had been eaten by ship worms, their trails and the holes they leave creating a lacy effect across the wood.
I stowed my finds in a large plastic bag. I knew I wanted to create something with what I have found. I also realised that the string I had earlier dismissed as useless could be the key to my artistic vision.
Much later I left with a large and mixed bag of beachcombed relics from the sea. My
treasure was laid out to dry on the desk when I got home. I showed it to a couple of people and I could see that they did not appreciate it as I did. Fickly, I lost interest and left it there.
Yesterday I had some time to myself and started to search for more Roger Deakin information on the internet. I found many things including some radio recording. I listened to one “Cigarette on the Waveney” and listening to this I remembered the joy of discovery. This afternoon, with that spare hour that I think I have because the clocks have changed, I set about creating a piece from my sea treasure.
I learnt many things, including how hard I find it to tie a
tight knot; how easy it is create and forget the practical and obvious – how I
am going to hang and show my piece. I cursed a little and had to persevere. My objective
was to use only the items I had collected from the sea. No glue, no nails and something
that had movement.
It is a satisfying moment when you hang your own work on the
wall and it looks good enough to leave there. I have a new driftwood, Deakin
inspired dream catcher to admire each time I walk through my hall. I will let
you know if I dream of the sea.