Having first visited Nash Point Lighthouse on my walk this week, we actually started our circular walk at site of the StillWalks production “Breakers Walk”. From there we walked along the cliff tops back towards the Nash Point. The tide was out and the view over the wave platforms of this stretch of the South Wales coast were incredible. The patterns of those waves of stone were so clear – it was as though time had frozen still and allowed the structures to form in an instant.
My walk this week is from Nash Point on the South Wales coast. It is a place that holds memories for me, not least of which is a schools / RNLI project I did with HyperAction some years ago – “Launch the Lifeboats, Stories of Wreck and Rescue in the Bristol Channel”. Other memories are of the cliff lined, wave platform shoreline between Nash Point and Monknash where I produced the StillWalks video “Breakers Walk” for CARIAD, the research unit at Cardiff Metropolitan University.
The lighthouse, its foghorn (no longer used but listen below) and the cliffs with the wave platform at their foot makes this a truly amazing place.
Nash Point Lighthouse
It was pretty windy when we were there and I did not get much done in the way of field recording. – that is not what we were there for. I didn’t even take my camera so all photography for my walk this week was done on my iPhone.
I recorded the clip below on the “Lifeboats” project and you will be able to hear the wind between the blasts of the fog horn if you are not too blown away by the horn itself!
The waves breaking on the South Gower coast near Southgate may not be the huge breakers that can be seen on some coastlines around the world, but I wouldn’t fancy falling in there on a day like this!
In writing this post about my walk between Southgate and Three Cliffs Bay on this wild and windy day, I realised that I had made the third image monotone. The strength of colour in our surroundings comes from reflected light and as there is so little light on a day like this, there is consequently very little obvious colour. In reality of course there is colour and even in the sea, if you focus your attention, there is a range of subtle colours to be seen. The trouble is that in weather like this the inclination to stand still and observe intently is rather weak and the sensation instead, is that the day is dark, the wind is wild, the rain is wet and it is time to get back inside, not linger too long on the edge of the cliffs however many colours there may or may not be.
And so I headed back to the Three Cliffs Coffee Shop at Southgate for another cuppa and to calm the wind that had been blasting my brain for the last hour or two.
This visual evidence of the prevailing wind on the South Gower coast with its effect on the hawthorn trees produces wonderful natural sculptures typical of Britain’s coastline. There are probably not many trees like the hawthorn or blackthorn with their ability to survive and thrive in the rugged conditions that come with the Autumn and Winter seasons here.
That’s not say that we have particularly harsh winters, but they still have to cope with the strong winds and sea salty air and I know plenty of other species of tree that do not welcome this sort of situation at all. I love these trees and I also love the equally hardy whin or gorse and, in this case, their silhouette against the dark grey horizon line of sea and sky.
For some reason I had the impulse to process this image in sepia tone. Adding a bit of grain, it is given an aged look (as sepia does), as if it were a shot of Swansea Bay from Mumbles taken a century ago. Of course there are a number of tell tale signs that this could not be the case. The most obvious is perhaps the wind turbine.
The pattern created by these smooth round stones was the second thing that interested me about this small area at the foot of the cliffs near Monknash on the South Wales coast.
I took a closer look and, on my iPad, I started a couple of sketches of the the harsh light and shade.
This revealed the disadvantage of recording observations with this method – namely heat! The sun was shining and it was a blistering day. Although I started my drawing from a vantage point in the shade, the sun soon moved round and I found that the glass of the iPad got extremely hot to the touch quite quickly. Had I been using a stylus, I might not have realised what was happening which may well have done some lasting harm to the iPad.
Click below to view the iPad animation of one of my attempts at drawing these stones on the iPad using SketchBook Pro.
I took a small sketchbook with me on our walk and draw day on the cliff lined shore near Monknash on the South Wales coast – and I found it much easier to work with traditional drawing media than with the iPad. However, I have not had much practice with the iPad in this way.
One of the reasons for bringing the iPad was to get a bit more experience and make a better assessment of it when using it with a traditional approach to drawing – i.e. the SketchBook Pro program I used was set to use a “pencil” at 50% opacity. It would have been easier if I’d had a stylus! I found the strata of the rocks quite a difficult subject but that may have been my lack of practice!
I first used the iPad for drawing when preparing for the Josef Herman Art Foundation Schools Award 2014 project. My first attempts were tentative, but practice obviously helps. Restricting myself (and the children) to using the “pencil” tool was intended to help us learn the basics and become familiar with working in this way. One thing I thought might be useful was the ability to record the process of drawing as an animation.
Below are two of my earliest drawings on the iPad. I hope the viewpoint of the first is clear and the second is of one of the Rosa Mundi flowers in our garden. The flower is the one that would make attempt using colour on the iPad!