It was in 1987 that the groynes on Seaford beach were buried under tons of imported gravel, brought in to boost the defences along the beachfront. Over the last few months I have photographed and written in two earlier posts about the Environment Agency’s seemingly untiring reinforcing of the shingle bank, helping to keep high seas at bay from the town centre.
The sea is winning. The sea has taken the shingle, leaving a lower and delightfully sandy beach behind. Yesterday was still stormy. Today has seen a crowd of people the size normally seen at Bank Holidays along the front keeping the two cafes busy, the shags and kittiwakes back on their perches, all in glorious sunny weather and a flat calm sea.
Yesterday was different. It was calmer but the seas were still generating big waves. In October last year the crew of the lifeboat, coast guards and other public services were put at risk when a thrill seeking 14 year old challenged the waves to do their worst. They did, sweeping him away, and he has never been seen again. Another woman, coming out of a sea front bar further along the coast thought it would be fun to have a paddle and her body was recovered days later at Cuckmere Haven.
The sea kills if challenged and not treated with respect. many who live on this coast know that, but others it seems , don’t realise the destructive power contained within tons of water moving at maybe 25 mph.
I love living here, and I get told off for taking risks to photograph waves, and yes a couple of times I have got wet, but basically I weigh the risks of what I am doing carefully, and really stay very safe. Not everyone even thinks about what the sea holds, and in trying to capture images of waves to make paintings from is it not just their colour I am looking for but a sense of their violence, speed, and weight that crashes repeatedly against the shore.
This week the studio has been an little isolated ‘man cave’ in a world of wind and rain – and rain here is salty as it is mixed with spray off the sea. I have worked in a thrumming cocoon of light and warmth as the weather has battered us, far enough from the shoreline to be safe but close enough to feel the brutal power the weather can exert coming off the sea.
Trouble is all I have produced has been crap. But the beauty of the sea has been stunning and another week starts tomorrow, so onward and upward