creative practice

Homing in on creative ideas

I got a chance to follow-up on my wild photography experiences, this time back at Pett Level beach. I roamed the beach as the tide went out, exploring the shingles and rocks and sands and rockpools and waters edge. Looking closely to see what was there and hoping that one particular place might call to me.

As I wandered it struck me that the whole beach was really the soft sandstone cliff in the process of dying. Below the cliff huge boulders with sharp edges show that they have recently 'calved' from the rockface. The edges get smoothed and shaped by the sea in the next band of coastline and then right out at the low tide line are the abraded sands. Below it all, and only visible at the point of low tide is a layer of grey clay - great for me - but quite possible cause of much of the instability in the rocky headland?

After my wowzer moment at Rock-a-nore seeing the amazing boulders there I had come to Pett Level looking for a less populated version of the same thing, and so my early visits to Pett Level I focussed very much on the rocks.

However, assessing my recent maquettes I realised that the one that interested me most was actually born more from the sands.

When I stopped being blinkered by my expectations, of what a beach should be, of what I was interested in, and attended to what was actually there, what was the character of that place & what about it drew me - I was surprised to discover that it was not the rocks.

The place that drew me was a small patch of sand about 15" across nestled against a rib of projecting rocks and slowly being revealed by the outgoing tide. It might not sound major to go to a beach and be called by the sand, but for me it's a bit of a revelation. My family are very rocky and I'd grown up being a bit sniffy about sandy beaches, dismissing them as boring. But it seems that there is something appealing to me about the transitory nature of the sands, shifting and sifting as the tides take them, bearing within them the grain of the cliffs above, revealed as the waters drop while I wait & watch.

The process of finding this interest within myself was also significant and told me that my unexpected choice of the sand-ripple forms as the point of departure for my next round of creative experimentations was a good one.

New maquettes

As I mentioned in a previous post I have been playing with some new coastally-inspired ideas recently. The initial maquettes were a way to try out some of these ideas, some new clays and also some different firing techniques.

Once they were all completed I was faced with deciding how to proceed. This sort of decision making process is often a trigger for self-doubt and over-thinking.

This time I tried not to think too hard about it- instead I looked at everything, handled it & just went with my gut response of whether or not I felt it was interesting/appealing to me right now.

 Not interesting/appealing right now

Not interesting/appealing right now


Still some whittling down to do, but starting to get somewhere...

Breaking rules, making brushes and marks

As part of my new emphasis on more creative work I have been forced up against lots of head-stuff; unspoken rules, shoulds, inner criticalness, perfectionism etc etc etc. Bleurgh!

I am trying to focus as much as I can on the things that inspire me and to listen to them and the creative decisions that happen in the moment of making. I have also decided that the only rule here is that there are no rules.

One old rule that got stuck in my head was that pots with 'decorations' were not for me - a valid response to growing up in the 80s when everything had some horrible random motif printed on it (toaster with wheatsheafs I'm looking at you!). But as a result lots of potential for mark-making and interesting surfaces got thrown overboard.

I came across a brush-making workshop that australian artist Lorna Crane was offering and felt a whisker-twitching itch to participate. Sadly the funds did not permit such long distance travel, but the idea was planted and I decided to have a go at home, using only materials I had picked up on the beach.

None of the materials were collected with this in mind so interesting to see what could be made with whatever was on hand, in my stash of previously scavenged bits and pieces some natural some not. Here's some first results using ink to draw with my new brushes, some of them were quite surprising.

Inspirations for some new creative work...

Since moving to Hastings I have loved exploring my new surroundings. Drinking it all in - and having a bit more space and time to think - has lead to some surprising developments. It has inspired me to start playing with some new creative ideas. I don't know where they will take me yet as it's very early days so far but it feels very rewarding to be able to focus on my art and inspirations and the early creative play that seems to be necessary before new finished pieces can be born.

I will share some of the processes I am exploring with you, and some of the results when we get that far...

For now, here's some views of the coast at nearby Pett which is inspiring the current developments. I have been looking particularly at organic forms, surfaces and the ways in which forms and voids relate.