I’m very lucky to have achieved my childhood dream of living by the sea and later resolving my adult dilemma of city or rural home. The area I live in has a curious maritime history of pirates and sea-shanties, a run of blossom-sweet cottages and its own castle walls where the Liscard Battery once was. Across the bay, a Manhattan-like view of Liverpool’s world famous waterfront is majestic by day as the ships dock and leave, and magical in the evening as the sun goes down and city lights begin to shine instead.
There’s that moment when the sky is a deep warm blue and the electric lights warmly amber that I find very appealing. Added to the view is the Mersey and sandbanks visited by hungry seabirds. As the tide goes out it is very pleasing to hear the sounds of water and birds and human life and look at the colours and shapes of pools left behind.
In the summer I ride out to Leasowe Bay where the sand is firm enough for me to enjoy a cycle along the water’s edge and if it’s warm enough, a swim. I’ve recently learned some digital photography skills and have recorded the patterns of the coast – waves, sandbanks and light, particularly lovely in the evening.
With all this at hand, there’s the risk of making art that is clichéd or that I can’t explore. I like a challenge; I like not being sure how I’m going to approach a subject or what is has to say to me.
One day I took a trip on Tuskar with Liverpool Bay Marine Life Trust. We sailed our way out and through the wind turbines, across to Hilbre Island and back. I felt raw and energised scooting through the swell and as we returned past New Brighton and turned into the estuary, I became mesmerised by the bow wave – the swell made as Tuskar sped through the tide – and the gash in it made by the boat’s hull. Clean jewel blues, blacks and greens offset by the white and creamy crusts of the wave top appeared in around forty pictures I took that day.
I began sketching and drawing in pencil and pen, producing several images and then developing works in watercolour and inks. As I painted, the painstaking detail of the distant town became a distraction and I ended up obscuring it with a dark pour of Phthalo, Veridian, Umber and Black mopped in places and spattered in others as I relived the excitement of the sail.