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I never really thought of the Beach Boys as anything more than happy harmonics. West Coast surfer sound lacking the depth, emotional and musical, of the Beatles. They reflected the US West Coast in all its frothy entertainment world frivolity. Looking back maybe the US West Coast had a romantic appeal that drew the likes of Hockney, but if you really want the landscape and empty shoreline then the West Coast of South Africa should be your place to go. It is certainly warmer than Bridlington too.

It would be dark when I rose to walk the beach alone

It would be dark when I rose to walk the beach alone

I am fortunate to have the use of a holiday rental on St Helena Bay. It’s not expensive (contact details at the end of this post) and I have fallen in love with this blissfully deserted beach and the birdlife. I have been struggling to get to grips with the depiction of the coast here in Sussex since we moved and I had hoped that going to spend a week on the beach here would help.

Looking West into the dying light of the night

Looking West into the dying light of the night

It didn’t. Oh I took my sketch book and worked up some drawings. But the attraction of walking barefoot in the surf took me away and the camera once again became my sketchbook. I have still to figure out how to take the imagery it generates and turn it into satisfactory art works. At the back of my mind ideas are stirring and will be here first as they develop, but the images here show the beauty that I’m not sure can be captured by anything other than the camera. I am no J. M. W. Turner.

The dawn is reflected in the windows of the beach houses. I used to dfo paintings like this - all called variously 'Homage to Hopper'

The dawn is reflected in the windows of the beach houses. I used to dfo paintings like this – all called variously ‘Homage to Hopper’

The trouble too is that the experience is so much more than visual. There is the music of the waves. As I have said before, the sea in St Helena bay is shallow so the waves wash gently into the shore in soft susurrations not the roaring crashing tempestuous waves of Sussex. Their sound is augmented by the sound of the birds and the windblown shuffling of sand grains, altogether making a music that is soft and repetitive. A bit like that of the Beach Boys.

the rising sun painted thewaves and sand pink

the rising sun painted the waves and sand pink

For a week I was able to relax and live like a beach bum, walking the shore in bare feet and shorts, getting sunburned, no internet, no mobile phone, log fires when it was cold, a stock of books and wine, braai’s at dusk, life moving to my own internal rhythms. My love beside me, I had a loving week living to the accompaniment of the music of the ocean.

dawn on the 27th 035

On the horizon ships with their rising lights still on as the sun rises

The Beach Boys had one thing right – it is just right to kick back and enjoy the harmonies. The trick is listening to the natural harmonies, tuning in to life, to the movement of the sun and the colour of light. In Sussex maybe I have a chance of finding the peace within that will release more of the creative forces I know are there. Not California Dreamin’ am I? Wouldn’t it be nice…

The area is relatively isolated - oh there are restaurants 20 klicks down the road, but these few houses are holiday homes mainly empty during the week

The area is relatively isolated – oh there are restaurants 20 klicks down the road, but these few houses are holiday homes mainly empty during the week

To rent Sanderlings email broadley@netactive.co.za 

Idyllic setting

Idyllic setting