Intervention: Distracted by Rust

Groyne posts, waveworn, and the April sunshine draws me back to the beach and my photographic odyssey for 2018 as I photograph the ever-changing groyne post tops of the groyne field of Bexhill beach.

I am distracted by the rust patterns – I think that I may be developing a new addiction.

Groyne posts expose rusty remnants and the soft worn quality of the metal and the sharp talon-like qualities of shadows. The saltwater oxidises the metal, the oxide stains the wood and slowly bonds the metal object to the wood. The de-laminating ferrule creates a landscape of red rust and yellow lichen.

Intervention: Waveworn 3 – 23 March 2018

Waveworn open from 3 – 23 March 2018

Waveworn at Martyrs Gallery, Lewes presents a selection of work that I carried out over the past 15 years under the working title of Intervention. Please check the gallery website for opening times.

Waveworn documents weathering and erosion on the Sussex coast through the medium of film and still photography, catalogued by location and date to build up a complete and beautiful archive of change over the decades. Waveworn explores pressing issues of environmental instability, but also timeless human themes of change, impermanence and desire for (the illusion of) control.

An interview with Alex Leith for `Viva Lewes’ (March 2018 edition)

 

And it is always good to get feedback … please Tweet @Clifffart if you visit the exhibition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intervention: Groyne 76

Fascinated by change, what better way to spend time than photographing groynes of the inter-tidal zone of Bexhill beach.

These images are of one post top, situated in Groyne 76.

This piece explores intervention on our shoreline, using two temporal distortions. Compressing time, I present one post top, photographed over six years, with seven images. Slowing time, I concurrently present the same post dealing with the waves of a bi-diurnal and lateral tidal flow.

 

Much of our landscape exists in its current form as a result of our intervention. Groynes are an example of this, existing in the rigours of the splash and inter-tidal zones.

This exploration has only just begun, the more I look the more I see and the more I want to know. Exploring and recording both for its own sake and for the metaphors it gives me with which to consider our relationship with this planet – our beautiful, powerful, fragile, life support system.

Click here to see a collection of prints showing the changing face of a post top.

Intervention: Post Top Portraits – Change Over Time

The sets of posts and planking running down the beach to the sea are an intervention in a dynamic system. They stand in the flow of sea and shingle and change the way it moves. Eddies of shingle build against them, flow over them and are battered against them by the sea.

This collection brings together images of a single post top, photographed over a number of years.
The title of each piece identifies the groyne number, and the years in which the post top was photographed.

There is often a tendency to hold on to the idea of permanence and not recognise change that happens gradually over an extended period of time. Gradual change, often unobserved is a core element of this work and acknowledges how the `natural’ world is changed in a managed environment and provides a perspective of change and the requirement to maintain an intervention in a dynamic system.

This work records the necessary tenacity of life and any structure on the beach in the intertidal zone, the dynamics of changing systems and the impact of coastal management.

Lost in Execution: Nexilis

Nexilis is the Latin word for woven together or intertwined. In this series `nexilis’ refers to the visual weaving of physical watercolour strips with the digital strips; the intertwining of physical and digital media. The weaving of the physical and the digital is a theme that runs throughout my work. 

Nexilis describes the process of working from physical watercolour through to the manipulation of the physical as digital objects, finally returning to and integrating the physical with the digital. The watercolour elements of the piece are painted, then torn into strips. The watercolour strips are photographed and manipulated into digital objects. The digital objects are used as the foundation of a series of abstract images.

Nexilis_01

 


 

Nexilis P1120417


Shown above, the underlying image is an A2 digital print overlaid with physical strips of water-coloured paper. These are the strips originally photographed and used to generate the image upon which they are now placed.

In the next image, I explore the effect of desaturation by reducing the colour palette. I apply filters to make it less paint-like and more photographic. The circular exploration of pattern and chaos continues.

Nexilis P1120417oilPaintmute

 


I am interested in the idea of reflection and this is present in both the way I think and the way I work. I have a cyclical approach; focusing on something and then leave it, return later, expand upon it, and then move on, a process that may continue indefinitely. The blend of chaos and pattern attempts to describe a search for balance.

Responsive Line: #portraitNovember

#portraitNovember on Twitter, and I share a series of faceless portraits and ask what is a portrait? Does the face have to be included to produce a portrait of a person? Or can collections of objects present an aspect of likeness? 

The objective was to achieve the likeness of a person, a sense not of what a person looks like but a sense of who the person is, using objects that form part of their everyday lives. As such it is also an exploration of metaphor as each object is a descriptive metaphor for an aspect of the individual’s life.

It is useful to consider four categories of metaphor:
Universal
Cultural
Sub-cultural
Personal

Universal metaphor is in principle understandable by any other person, regardless of culture. These tend to be things that have clear, body related, functions.

Cultural metaphors make up the majority but require the audience is of the same culture, or has understanding of that culture, to communicate.

Sub-cultural often relates to specific skills related groups and interestingly can sometimes cross cultural boundaries.

Personal metaphors are those meanings we attach to objects on the basis of personal experience.

A true sense of a person, an informative likeness, is created by the selection of appropriate objects as metaphors. The effectiveness of the metaphor depends upon which category they are in, and the degree to which the audience are part of that category.

My personal view is that the face is like a product brand and only represents us in as much as it allows others to associate particular skills, qualities and attributes with that particular brand (face).

Inside looking out
I collect, make, do and see.
My face is not me.

 

My faceless portraits form part of:

Alternative Viewpoints, Towner Gallery, Eastbourne
Saturday 3 December at 4.00pm. Free.

Blue Monkey Network artists Cliff Crawford and Jan Turner respond to the `One Day Something Happens’ exhibition at the Towner Gallery, Eastbourne. The session will take place in the gallery space and offers a participatory experience in a fast-paced workshop exploring ideas and thoughts relating to the exhibition. What creates the likeness of a person in a portrait? Consider the objects that dress the image: faceless portraits.

 

Intervention: Seeds and Plant Debris

Shingle is constantly moving. On the eastern Channel coasts, this movement – called longshore drift – is generally eastwards. However, some parts of the shingle beach beyond the inter-tidal zone can become fairly stable, and areas may develop where plants grow. These shingle plants have adapted to cope with little fresh water and few nutrients, fierce winds and the salt spray of the wind and waves.

These pioneer communities consist of individual plants, widely spaced. They typically consist of sea kale, yellow horned poppy and sea pea. By autumn the remaining vegetation is very sparse and are patches of plant debris.

As part of my long-term interest in the groyne fields of Bexhill beach, I recently spent the day with an Art and Environment Study Group on a roaming workshop, led by artist Sean Roy Parker. We cycled and stopped to sketch the vegetation that grows above the high water mark on the coastline between Bexhill and Bulverhythe Fishing Yard.

I collected samples of seeds and brown, desiccated plant stems that I photographed and sketched. When I returned to the studio I photographed them again and then digitally draughted the resulting images combining my sketches with the digital photographs.

I shared my illustration of the shingle vegetation on Twitter using #intervention. However, the identification of what I collected proved more difficult. I may need to do some research…

Intervention: Notes from a discussion about the groyne post project

Initial inspirations for the work:

Intervention. When and why did this begin? My personal ease of access to the beach meant that I built an intimate relationship with this particular section of seashore over an extended period of time. At the time I was seeking a connection with the physical world to balance the academic needs of the teaching profession. I feel an enormous sense of purpose and well-being when I spend time on the beach observing and recording the condition of the post-tops.

Ideas explored in Intervention:

  • Environmental impact. Changes in our climate are discussed and predicted but are we ignoring the everyday impact of the weather systems upon the landscape around us? What is man-made is often perceived as a natural landscape. The seashore I see at Bexhill is a man-managed environment disrupted by the forces of the sea.
  • Who started this intervention? Historic intervention has defined the coastal environment we experience. We are now taking responsibility for the complexity of the outcomes of past decisions.
  • Concept of relative time spans. Time spans hint at empirical reasoning – maths and science – measurement. We often have an internal story of a place that is essentially static; a single snapshot which we edit to maintain its credibility. Yet places are systems with multiple and distinct functions providing protection and adaptation of the environment to more closely match our perceived needs. To develop a more appropriate awareness of a system requires multiple, timed, documented, snapshots of the system. Systems are not static, they flow; they are in a process of constant and often complex change.

  • Living on the boundary of the land and sea you can see clearly that our attempts to control the beach are only partially and temporarily successful. The interval between the end of the late winter storms and the mechanical intervention to regrade the beach demonstrates how much the shingle moves. It is a constant challenge to our belief that we have control.

Intervention is a long-term project which began in 2002…

Intervention

The sets of posts and planking running down the beach to the sea are an intervention in a dynamic system. They stand in the flow of sea and shingle and change the way it moves. Eddies of shingle build against them, flow over them and are battered against them by the sea.

Each post top is a uniquely identifiable element in this system which I have observed, recorded and compared over a number of years. The post tops, like portraits of a person repeated throughout their life, are not only beautiful but provide clues as to the condition of the system.

There is often a tendency to hold on to the idea of permanence and not recognise change that happens gradually over an extended period of time. Gradual change, often unobserved is a core element of this work and acknowledges how the `natural’ world is changed in a managed environment and provides a perspective of change and the requirement to maintain an intervention in a dynamic system.

This work records the necessary tenacity of life and any structure on the beach in the intertidal zone, the dynamics of changing systems and the impact of coastal management.

The reference number on each image designates the Groyne number and the year the picture was taken.

Bexhill Groynes Numbers 47 to 77 – A collection for 2015

Groyne 47Groyne 48Groyne 49Groyne 50Groyne 51Groyne 52Groyne 53Groyne 54Groyne 55Groyne 56Groyne 57Groyne 58Groyne 59Groyne 60Groyne 61Groyne 62Groyne 63Groyne 64Groyne 65Groyne 66Groyne 67Groyne 68Groyne 69Groyne 70Groyne 71Groyne 72Groyne 73Groyne 74Groyne 75Groyne 76Groyne 77

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The groynes on Bexhill beach run from Groyne 1 to Groyne 121 and I have photographed them since 2002, both fascinated and amazed by their change over time. While I am pleased to have completed this extended presentation of some of my photographic collection, this is not the end. Next year will see me back on the beach, finding and recording what has changed and rediscovering what remains.

Tap on a post number to visit the full groyne post blog for 2015.