Using What You Find: Beachcombing Art!
Posted by Jody on March 12, 2014
Today’s Featured Guest Writer is Beachcombing Artist Richard Blacklaw-Jones.
About the Author/Artist: Richard is an international beachcombing artist! He uses what he finds on the beach to make pictures or useful and decorative items. He lives in Pembrokeshire, Wales, and therefore has the great good fortune to be surrounded by beaches that face the Atlantic and the Gulf Stream. Due to this happy circumstance, he can always find materials for his work. He prefers to use man-made materials, and he says, “even if my work doesn’t sell I can comfort myself with the fact that the beach is a little cleaner following my efforts.” He has pursued this calling for 15 years and has exhibited his works in Wales, England, and France.
We are looking West, out over the Milford Haven from the North side of the Haven. That’s the town of Milford Haven in the distance, and it’s suburbia in the top right of photo. It doesn’t really have a name, this beach, but it is endlessly fascinating because of its industrial history (it was a boat breaking yard amongst other things) as well as for what washes up. It’s at about half tide in the photo, and you can see the “beach” consists mostly of the remains of some factories which were basically demolished and bulldozed onto the beach in the 1960’s. Even better, in the lower right foreground, you can see two timbers sticking out of the back wall of the beach. These timbers used to support a wooden sea facing wall whose maintenance ceased when the factories went and has consequently rotted away, thus allowing the made up ground behind it to erode onto the beach. This gives a constant supply of mixed domestic and industrial refuse from the late Victorian era to the waves and for me to find and use.
~ Using What You Find ~
I belong to a group of artists who annually organise a large group exhibition at St David’s Cathedral with (at the same time) smaller exhibitions at a number of picturesque, small churches, all of the above in Pembrokeshire, Wales. The exhibitions run under the name Art on the Faith Trail, and our logo is the footprint (referencing the ancient practice of pilgrimage to St David’s Cathedral) which brings me to the picture below.
This is a very big chunk of black plastic, about 4 feet on each side and almost 2 inches thick. The big bolts threaded through it imply it was fixed to something and maybe acted as a hatch cover? It had been in the sea long enough to have some quite large barnacles growing in the bolt holes. This piece washed up at a beach near Milford Haven.
I’ve been looking for something of this sort for quite a while as I need to make some signs for use outside the exhibition venues. I decided to cut two foot-shapes from this.
Having cut one of the feet (with a jig-saw), here it is laid on the other half of the slab so that I may trace around it so that I will have a pattern to follow with the jig saw.
Here are the two feet completely cut out. This took most of a day to do as the jig saw blade would get hot when cutting the tighter curves around the toes or heels and would then start to bind in its cut. The only answer was to let the blade cool for some time and only cut short lengths. Such repeated heating and cooling is probably responsible for one jig saw blade breaking and thus adding to the job’s duration when I had to take time to replace it.
The idea is to have one foot standing upright outside a venue so that passers by will see it and come inside. A plastic foot nearly 4 ft tall should attract attention, and I’m going to cut some multiple-coloured plastic letters and attach them to each foot, if possible to spell out “Art on The Faith Trail. ” I say if possible because the width of each foot will determine the size of the letters.
Here’s how I worked the words into the space offered. Now to cut them out.
I then turn to the bucket of scraps and start sorting out what colours I’ve got.
All set up, and doesn’t it look fine! I’m very happy with this and feel sure it will catch the attention of passers by. I hope it will prompt curiosity in the viewer to “see what the show is like, as the sign’s pretty good.”
Richard’s online gallery is a veritable feast for the beachcomber’s eyes !
A note from our treasure hunters:
We simply love to share when it comes to beaches, treasure hunting, beachcombing crafts, and beachy tips. How about you? Do you have a favorite beach you’d like to share with us? Maybe you have some great tips for beach picnics, seaside safety, or seashore activities. Please check out our Submission Guidelines for info on jumping into the fun at Beach Treasures and Treasure Beaches. It would be wonderful if you would join us as our next Featured Guest Writer!