Towards the end of my visit to St Ives I started to look at very particular aspects of the coastline. Porthminster beach was the chosen location for this exercise.
The idea of focusing-in on a very specific aspect of a subject came from tuition given to me as a student regarding abstract painting. In order to introduce us to the concept of abstract painting we were advised to focus our attention on a small detail of whatever subject we were looking at, and create a series of observational studies based on this.
With a small detail taken out of context of the subject as a whole, abstract concerns were allowed to develop. Without an instantly recognisable subject matter there was an emphases on composition, line, tone and form without the distraction of trying to make your image look like the subject you are working from.
This was, I think, a very clever way to get us to observe without becoming bogged down by representational detail. Although the concept of abstract painting is far more complicated than this, it does allow you to lose the preciousness of trying to capture a likeness and think about other aesthetic concerns instead. I often still use this process to generate new ideas. The extreme cropping allows new textures, forms and compositional techniques to emerge, and possibly inform future investigations and work.
On this occasion I started off by looking at patterns created by erosion in the sand caused by water trickling down the beach into the sea:
I then discovered a small deceased crab further along that looked suspiciously as though it would fall to pieces if I tried to lift it up:
Towards the far corner of the beach, and alongside the cliff face, were a selection of rocks which had accumulated offerings from the sea courtesy of the last visit of the tide:
Chains and rope
My favourite photographs taken from this session were of the mussels, left grouped together stuck to the rocks awaiting the return of the tide. I especially like the final image in this sequence as I think that the rays of light seeping down from the top of the image give an idea of the quality of the light found at St Ives.
I will keep these images, along with others taken during my visit, in my archive. They are useful to refer back to for colour, shape and texture references, as well as possible starting points for new bodies of work.
Finally, one of the other great things about Porthminster Beach is the Porthminster Cafe. I didn’t splurge on the meal detailed in the review, instead opting for a more wallet friendly portion of fancy fish and chips and a glass of Pimms on the terrace. A sunhat was provided free of charge, shielding my eyes from the glare of the sun to enjoy the fantastic beach view.