Because I was leaving for a week away, I was unable to give either my full and undivided attention, but nonetheless they both had a deep and significant impact, such that I spent much of my time walking the Fife coastal path thinking about how I might revive previous work I had done working with water. I decided that on my return I would begin a body of work focused on the sea in front of my house. I have long restricted my image making of the view from my window to snapshots of the changing moods, rather than using my professional camera but now I feel compelled, like Bosworth, to capture the dynamic Being of the sea and its ever-changing reality.
On closer examination, I realise that Bosworth quotes the opening words of Woolf in The Waves as a Preface to her own work:
“The sun had not yet risen. The sea was indistinguishable from the sky, except that the sea was slightly creased as if a cloth had wrinkles in it. Gradually as the sky whitened a dark line lay on the horizon dividing the sea from the sky and the grey cloth became barred with thick strokes moving, one after another, beneath the surface, following each other, pursuing each other, perpetually.
As they neared the shore each bar rose, heaped itself, broke and swept a think veil of white water across the sand. The wave paused, and then drew out again, sighing like a sleeper whose breath comes and goes unconsciously.” (1931) p5).
And whilst Woolf’s work is the life stories of a group of friends, rather than being about the sea as such, it seems to me that she compares the rhythm of the tide to the ups and down of life in the title of her literary classic.
When looking at Bosworth’s hefty tome for the first time, I was immediately struck by the sheer number of images, presented in colour and black and white (something I had often been warned against) and words from Rachel Carson, an American marine biologist. In addition, she included a piece of prose from the English photographer Jem Southam, Gannets, Guillemots and Other Seabirds. But this is only what is included in the main body of the book, her own work is accompanied by details of the Beaufort Wind Scale, her own Weather Journal, her collection of stones, shells and other curiosities collected from the beach, reproductions of J M W Turner’s watercolours that inspired her and a collection of book covers of literary finds about the sea and its environs. It is a life’s work and a fascinating example of how practice can take on many forms, practices, and related interests.
Both books have been an inspiration to me, and I am excited to resume my work with water.
Bosworth, B. (2022). The Sea. Santa Fe, New Mexico, Radius Books.
Woolf, V. (1931). The Waves. Middlesex, Penguin Books.