I arrived in Seaford at the beginning of August 2013, attracted by the land and seascape around here. Many years ago I used to live in Brighton (and indeed had my first exhibitions of my paintings there) but its big city provincial brashness didn’t appeal after 30 years of living in London. I still want to be able to go up to the Smoke easily though, and unaware in the beginning of the slightly random nature of the rail link to Town, Seaford ticked all the boxes. The beach, cliffs and Downs limit its spread, keeping it free of urban sprawl and giving a more predictable environment than elsewhere. I need to have an horizon, and cityscapes don’t give me that.
Being part of a community these days is different to in my grandparents static times, as Marshal McLuhan’s ‘global village’ becomes a reality. With high speed internet keeping a flow of imagery, news etc. as well as through various local sites and Facebook pages acting as a virtual parish pump ‘belonging’ takes on a different meaning.
As an air force brat I never belonged anywhere (see the article called ‘The Outsider’ on this blog), and whilst I enjoyed London I never felt a sense of belonging as I did when I lived in Blackburn, but I could never go back. Much as in the past beacons at harbour mouths gave seafarers a sense of coming home, so the Martello is the icon of Seaford along with the cliffs and now marks homecoming for me.
Part of that ‘belonging’ sense is linked into my painting. I need to be able to reflect my life and location in my painting. This last week has seen me time strapped but also still working hard with the camera. I have bought a new lens and it is providing a new set of images to play with. The landscape is constantly changing and that is a surprise, not just with the ebb and flow of the tides, but the ebb and flow of sand and shingle on the beach, the crumbling and changes of the cliffs all a constant fascination.
One thing travel enables is the realisation of how beautiful our world is, and how this particular corner of England more than holds its own in that beauty contest. People move away looking for something more, and landscapes of the Alps, or the wild beauty of Africa or the drama of the Rockies will always have that ‘grass is greener’ pull for many. I have been there and seen them, and yes, they are beautiful, but nowhere is as green, nowhere pulls at my heart like my homeland.
At the end of the day, I’ll always come back.