Do all artists go through creatively sterile patches? Maybe it’s a bit of creative exhaustion having made and exhibited so many paintings based in the decay of local sea defences, or maybe it is my increasing physical handicaps, but I haven’t been in the studio seriously now since before Christmas. That is about to change.

Increasingly bypassed, antique defences

This morning, I went for a walk along the sea front Seaford, mainly just for the exercise as walking will help keep my disabilities at a manageable level. As I strolled, I looked ahead to see what I could see. What I could see was that the top of Seaford Head had disappeared in the mist. A small group of people were stood close to the fence that is supposed to stop people going too close to the edge, looking at where there has been a massive rockfall as the cliff continues its retreat from the waves. Some reckon the cliffs move back half a metre a year, having lived here for nearly eleven years I don’t think they do I just think that occasionally, very occasionally, perhaps one year in eight they may be moved back a whole metre or more in one go. These kind of shocks and changes to our cliffs mirror the shocks and changes that happen in our lives, but maybe ill health and disability is something we should all anticipate when we pass our ‘three score years and ten’.

If you have read my previous pieces (including Such is Life) then you will realise that in many ways I have to thank my lucky stars that I am still able to walk along the sea front at all. I also think myself lucky that I have ended up living on the coast in an attractive place like Seaford which you can read about in a previous blog. I’ve been here now for nearly eleven years which is quite possibly the longest I have ever lived in one place.

Colour and texture on the concrete ‘jacks’

Maybe the pause in creativity has come about out of necessity. I must come to terms with the limitations that my growing problems from osteoarthritis are giving me – painful hands and painful bones generally are all inhibiting and making it difficult to stand in front of an easel in the studio. Fortunately, I have my cameras and I have been slow to realise that what I need to do is to be going out gathering ideas and looking at ways that I can create the imagery I want using them. I’ve been playing with the map ideas again the problem is of course now maps are all digital so finding suitable ones on paper to work with is again proving problematic. I need to rethink processes, and I am trying to print out sections of maps on my big printer so that I can collage and edit to reflect memories. I know I will do that. Memories contain some of the ideas and are all decaying so records of places and events in addition to photographs, a symbology of memory, those ideas are beginning to come for imaging once more.

the sea painted the rail green to complement the pink ice-cream shed

But today my walk along the beach has refreshed in my head with new possibilities that are coming out of images of the sea front and the sea defences. I think that I am seeing these as a kind of simulacrum for what is happening to Britain politically. We all know about the decay of British society; it is inevitable as the end of Empire after all. In painting I try to hold on to a search for beauty whilst at the same time reflecting the decay and complexities of politics and the civil society I live in. Those who’ve read my previous blogs know that as a service child settling into civilian life proved quite difficult especially as I entered it through Art college. I still don’t quite understand how things work socially the layers why there is such a disconnect between Westminster and rest of the country. So now I have the back to the sea defences, going back to the routine looking at the shore to look for ways that I can express what I see now.

BRotS still fascinate with colour changes

There is still a lot of beauty in this country. We are blessed with great countryside, fantastic shorelines and beautiful towns and villages even if they are despoiled by interlopers who don’t understand them whether those be commercial developers, second-rate politicians or foreigners is irrelevant really to the destruction they cause. People say we’re a nation of immigrants but the last major immigrant wave I’m aware of invading Britain happened in 1066 and we assimilated them over the next couple of hundred years. Can we assimilate 4 million arriving again in waves from the sea in the last 10 years since that man Blair open the gates? Time will tell.

Idealistic politicians at the end of WW2 thoughtlessly conferred British citizenship on all members of the Empire – the root of todays problems

I’m in my 78th year now, wondering for how long I can go on producing art. It is debatable, I have already been sent back from the pearly gates by my long dead father after a surgical mishap. It may be photography is the only art form I now engage with although I hope not because I believe my aesthetic is built around the mark, the gestures of the hand in mark making. I need it to be evident , even more important as the deceptions of AI become foisted onto our visually illiterate society. and for that reason, painting remains to me the supreme art form. Painting expresses the individual’s movements through the marks on the surface he or she uses, these being the signature/autograph of the artist.

So these images collected today form part of what I should be using moving forward. Inevitably there will be more, equally inevitably there will be changes and also inevitably I will reach back into my old image files. Now I am convinced of this: that no matter what happens in my physical disintegration my search for beauty will be an important fixed point around which the rest of my life revolves.

Beauty is immutable.