Besides The Seaside,  Landscape Writing,  Project Notes

Project Notes: Besides The Seaside

“Besides The Seaside” is an ongoing body of work glancing at our sometimes complex relationship with the coast. 

Why “besides” not ‘beside”?

Well, it’s quite a long story.  With a little serendipity.  The project started life years ago as “Coast”.  There was even a small show, and a discussion of a feature or so.  Then along came the BBC with their books and series and …  well, big fish stomps little fish.  I kept shooting for it though, making notes, a few recordings.

Time passed, the world changed.  I started calling the project “Beside The Seaside” on social media and in discussions.

Then, along came a decision to sort my work out; to attempt some order and structure amongst the ADHD.  To align my picture library with my ongoing projects, to actually do something with the images and words.  As part of this I’ve set up Instagram grids  for each project; unsurprisingly “Beside The Seaside” was already taken.  My ADHD brain took a leap sideways; for once it took a helpful leap.  

It leapt to, and hooked on “Besides The Seaside”.

That leap, that single letter change, has re-energised my approach to the project.  As the project précis says “Besides The Seaside” is an ongoing body of work glancing at our sometimes complex relationship with the coast.  Because the coast is so much more than the seaside.  Though seaside, with its arcades, its sand castles, its crazy golf and sticks of rock is a part of the coast.  But there’s the the heavy industry, the ports, the agriculture and aquaculture.  There’s the places people live, not just visit, and the lost places where people once lived.  There’s the wilder places, the saltmarshes, the dunes, the mudflats and cliffs.  And then there’s the always futile attempts to stop any of this changing, whether that change is through erosion or deposition.

Changing to “besides” has raised another important question for me.  A question of where does the coast end?  Is it at the classic boundary where the waves break over shingle or sand, over breakwater or cliff?  Or does it end elsewhere – maybe as far as Sandall Lock on the edge of Doncaster?  Because that is where, between suburban industrial estate and main railway line, the Ordnance Survey mark the Normal Tidal Limit on the Don.  And just downstream Mean High Water is marked on each bank.  And, coincidentally, that rail line links the industry and conurbation of South Yorkshire with the ports at Immingham/Hull and the purposely developed resort of Cleethorpes.

For me, for this project, the answer has to be the coast is any land adjoining a tidal reach.  How far I go into the hinterland will depend how well I feel the subject sits within the overall project.  That “besides the seaside” again.

So, that’s a slightly rambling introduction to my Besides The Seaside project.  Just me, casting a sometimes askew glance with my cameras, sketchbooks and notebooks at our complex relationship with our coast.  With, as I said, a rather broad definition of what the coast is.  There’s a lot to it, besides the seaside.