The proximity of life and death exist here in this drab, industrial, end of the world place with it’s ferry port to the Unknown, the nuclear power stations and stone-carved graves dating back to the 8th or 9th century.
The impressions that came to me after the artist walk have had time to sink in and I decided to work on some experimental images to explore the stone-carved graves.
The graves evoke a sense of stillness and are like empty spaces or perhaps doorways or portals. I wanted to see how they would look as shapes on paper:
They are containers for the remains of bodies and the labour of carving out these shapes in rock gives these bodies significance. (The chapel and the graves are thought to have been a place of pilgrimage.)
In the next image I fill the grave shapes with gold and copper leaf to try to symbolize the preciousness of the lives once contained in the bodies:
Next I use spray paint to abstract the graves into simple black lines to make a shift from controlled mark making towards something more spontaneous:
The idea of the graves being portals to other worlds or thresholds marking the edge of one place and another is one I like.
It links up to the embodied experience of being in transition or in a liminal state, which is a bit like how I felt when I stepped out onto Half Moon Bay. This landscape is also like a portal, and is an in between place shifting daily between dry land, semi-solid ground and sea (and known to be highly dangerous).
In the next painting I worked with the feelings associatied with thresholds and danger. Reality shifting, what is known becoming unknown, solid becoming liquid, empty becoming full:
The process seems to bring me closer to finding ways to relate to the experience of dying.
To give some context to my impressions, there have been well known incidents at nearby Morecambe Bay involving death and near death experiences. The images below show a warning sign and a boy being rescued after being caught in quicksand: