My area of study will be the Dungeness headland, in Kent, UK. In particular the Dungeness Estate and National Nature Reserve.
This study will be developed around the strength and fragility of this area, both ecologically, historically and personally, taking into account the possible effects it has on visiting artists and also the people who live and work there.
My initial exploration has been visual with a visit to Dungeness as recorded in this post
I have continued this visual exploration using some of the images I captured while there:
Working with these images I cropped some quite closely in order to try and discover what I wanted to focus on in this project.
From my very first visit I had a fascination for the amazing contrast of this raw natural place with it's huts and lighthouse that go back to the early years of the last century, and the intrusion of the power station and the subsequent forest of electric pylons.
To my surprise I always have a comforting feeling when I first see it on arriving at Dungeness and I wonder if it's because it has such a magical effect when it lights up this otherwise completely dark area, at night.
I spoke to one of the resident who lives near the power station and he told me how the darkness on the beach was so solid at night that you couldn't see anything at all except for the beam of the lighthouse, and it was a very eerie place to live. Some residents welcomed this addition as, in this respect it made it a more comfortable place to live.
This will be an area of further research.
I then turned my attention to one of my favourite sheds on the beach, which is slowly returning to nature.
This is an older sketch done on site during a 2 week stay in 2010
This time it was the contrast of the dwelling behind the shed that caught my eye. The one still standing with is's smart red door, having had the strength to weather everything this harsh landscape has thrown at it, and the working shed that's come to the end of its life and is loosing the battle.
As you can see I've started to annotate the sketches as I work to try and remind myself of what it was that drew me to this particular composition.
The sketch above was from an image of a decaying boat interior and when I cropped it I discovered what felt like a dark, claustrophobic area that felt quite frightening. However during the sketch a different feeling appeared to be coming through, one of the boat's history as a working vessel, almost as if it wanted the story to be told, so I annotated my thoughts again here in a purely spontaneous response.
The next sketch was a personal emotional response to this area, it's a favourite place for me and I have developed a connection with these fishing boats as they are always beached in this place. Gradually 2 of them are going into decline in favour of the large twinned hulled vessel. It was a frosty morning when I took the shot that this sketch was taken from, and there was no other place I would have rather been.
And here are my thoughts..
My last in investigative sketch for this post was taken from a random image that I caught of my shadow as I was taking shots of the railway sleepers.
This sketch has many layers for me, but on a non personal level I was thinking about the pressure there has been to remove all the detritus from the beach where it will inevitably be put into more landfill sites. If this was done the place would loose it's character completely and from an artist's perspective a wonderful, unique, exciting and constantly changing resource would be lost.
On a final note for this post , I have been using my Memo facility on my phone to record my thoughts while I'm out walking, so here's the first one....
"..... it's a comlptetley natural place and asks nothing of you. It will gather you up and nourish your soul, because.... 'it is as it is'.
It's a very rewarding place that reaches back far into history and you can feel that if you allow yourself to go with it....."