This is one of my recent acrylic paintings – it is called `Waiting for the Tide`. The inspiration came from a photograph I took in Portugal whilst on holiday with George a couple of years ago. I was particularly fascinated by the fact that it was `contra jour` – ie taken against the light – which produces an interesting effect.
I love the sea and the beach – whether or not the tide is in. Certainly when the tide is out there is so much left behind on the mud flats, beach or shingle, rock pools etc – just waiting for renewal when the water returns. Probably the most visual evidence of this is to be found in rock pools – hence the fascination they hold for children. They go poking around with their nets or (if they are brave) with their hands – thus risking the nip from a little crab telling them to mind their own business!
Walking on the mud flats, little swirly piles emerge and the odd squirt of water comes up from some burrowing creature. This creature is probably the ragworm much sought after by fishermen who dig them for bait when the tide is out. Ragworm are not very prepossessing – reddish in colour and lots of legs and apparently they bite! Surprising really that fishermen will hold them in their lips to keep them warm whilst they wait for their catch. Ugh.
Beachcoming? Lovely! I once had a house that led onto the tidal river and Jamie and I would walk along the mud flats when the tide was out – Jamie just loved mudlarking and shared my joy as I uncovered some treasure or other. Once I found a really nice wooden lavatory seat which had floated in on the tide and been left behind when it departed. With the amount of odd shoes that wash up one wonders how many people in the world walk around partially shod. I recently watched a TV programme which showed women beachcombing – in India I believe – the beaches were littered with detritus – which they ignored – they were only interested in flip-flops. They left at the end of each session with bags bulging. And what did they do with the flip-flops? They were turned into the most amazing mobiles, jewellery and artefacts. Quite amazing.
In London until the end of the 19th century a whole living was earned by the `Mudlarks` – ruffians who scoured the banks of the Thames river at low tide. Digging and turning over the stinking mud to find their treasures.
Mussels and cockles are to be found on the seashore at low tide – one must always keep a weather eye open for the incoming water – it marches in a-pace in some areas – faster than a man can run – anxious to reclaim its territory and occupants. Only to relinquish them all again at the next ebb tide – a continual process of renewal for the waiting plants and creatures …