Having mounted all the pieces for the exhibition I rewarded myself with a short camping trip to Spurn Point, a long narrow sand spit located on the coast of the East Riding of Yorkshire. A friend said I would love it. When asked why she replied, “There’s nothing there.” Perplexed I did an online reconnoitre prior to setting off, Grimsby looked industrial and Easington Gas Terminal was visible and in walking distance from the nature reserve.
I arrived at Bluebell Pond Camp site in driving rain, there was no camping reception but thankfully a couple, Darron and Cherry, had just arrived in their caravan and pointed to the reserved notice on pitch number 2. I put my tent up, thankful for investing in expensive waterproof clothing, I wish I had followed suit with the tent: an hour after getting all the paraphernalia in: mattress, sleeping bag, pillow, blanket, table, chair, cooker, clothes, food, I sat with a herbal tea and watched tiny tributaries run into the middle of the tent and form a large puddle. I timed it that I had to mop the water up every 15minutes before it came dangerously close to the bedroom area. I checked the forecast, this was in until midnight and it was only 6pm. There was only one thing for it: put all the bedding back in the van and hole out there.
Thankfully when I opened the van door the following morning the sky was big and blue. Where I live in the Calder valley we have hills in every direction and beautiful that it is you can only see 15 miles on a good day if you haul yourself up a steep incline. But here at Spurn Point not a hill in sight. I stood and looked at the vast blueness and out at the humber estuary, I felt like the top of my head had opened up, a master blaster meditation, “blue sky thinking”.
Spurn Point has been owned by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust since the 1960’s the previous guardian being the Ministry of Defence. There is a strict no dogs policy on the Point, not even in cars, as this is a site of special scientific interest (an SSSI).
A new visitor centre is in the process of being build which is not supported by the local residents. This would be the last time I would stay at BlueBell Pond site as the owner had been ordered to close it down and revert it to the grasslands in line with the needs of the SSSI. After 8 years of nurturing the camp site he was worried for his family’s future.
The needs of tourism are being imposed on the locals, a community who so far have lived without much interference in this liminal place. Dumper trucks and coach parks herald bureaucracy and crowds, both anathema to those who live on the edge of society. “Keep Spurn Wild” read the boards but to no avail, the regeneration army is unstoppable. Of the few properties more than half have a for sale sign outside. These were interspersed with notices saying “Have you left enough time to get back before High Tide?” The pride and respect for the wildness and the fear of it being domesticated is palpable.
It reminded me of my trip to the Isle of Skye earlier in the year where crowds of people were heading to the faery pools, thrust there by tourist internet sites of “What to do on Skye”
There is an increasing hunger for pre packaged wildness the more our culture is driven by consumerism and urban living. The land is commodified, labelled and sold as “an experience”. People are told how to enjoy it, what to look for, where to walk, how to feel, how to think instead of trusting their own experience. Phil Smith in “On Walking” provides guidelines for how explore your locality with fresh eyes. He recommends imagining you are a detective: investigate buildings, scrutinise the skyline, observe the pavement, sniff out aromas, consider sounds, explore texture, draw what you see, create your own maps. He writes, “Our enemies …are not each other. But the homogenisation, policing and reduction of multiplicity.” See also “How to be an Explorer of the World” by Keri Smith.
I made my way straight to the beach, past Bluebell cafe, the car park & the 24 hour toilets. With the north sea to my right, on my left huge wedges of red clay were peeling away eroding the fragile coastline, this is one of the fastest changing coast lines in the UK. The sea had a slightly pink hue as it crashed against huge bits of concrete once built by the MOD, now destroyed by the tides. It felt like a war torn land.
Across the sea was an ocean wind farm & a north sea gas rig.
I turned around and walked on the sand towards the lighthouse noticing how the sea had eroded the cement road leaving an installation of joists rusted by iron bolts.
They had an Easter Island feel to them, looking out to sea, standing still, witnessing the changes.
At the end of the Point is a lighthouse, a lifeboat station (the only one in the UK that is staffed permanently), 4 houses, a building that accommodates the YWT office, a private jetty and a few odd little buildings, one being an old gun store.
On the way back I came across a hawk, it seemed quite young, I managed to get about 2 metres away from it before it took flight. If you are interested in hawk symbolism click this link: https://whatismyspiritanimal.com/spirit-totem-power-animal-meanings/birds/hawk-symbolism-meaning/ Spurn did feel wild, the summer season had not yet begun and I appreciated having the beach to myself.
Being at Spurn has strengthened the repair process of my inner wild part, something I thought had lost. At home I began a small art quilt incorporating the theme of repair, I’m conscious that I buy as little material as possible and to repurpose and reuse what is in my scrap store, old clothes & charity shop finds.
I began by cutting out some backing fabric and batting, choosing some scraps and pinning them to it.
I sewed the scraps together and then using sashiko stitch I quilted in vertical & horizontal directions and a circular motif. At one point I decided to add a small bit of red fabric.
To edge the piece I used more red fabric, cut it into a strip & sewed the right sides together then folded it onto the back and stitched it.
I edged the rest of the piece with some hand dyed fabric.