Spring is really arriving here on the coast. A couple of weeks ago I went down to Burton Bradstock to meet the artists from Proboscis to talk about time on the coast, as part of their commission by ExLab. As I drove down, the mist lay in the valleys and a haze of green was visible on the hawthorns. The blackthorn, as ever, was one of the earliest bursts of colour, bringing flashes of white to the skeletal hedgerows. Down at Hive Beach, a band of mist made the blue sky and the glittering sea appear as one. Hive Cafe was busy, full of people basking in the morning sun. On the beach people were scattered here and there, slow and lazy in the welcome spring warmth. A few were even brave enough for a swim, though it must still have been chilly out there. As Alice arrived, I heard the first skylarks of the year – a wonderful sound. There is a big contrast with the last time we were here, when the beach was empty and storm swept. A big landslip has also come down since, bringing home the precarious and ever changing nature of the cliffs.
Alice (from Proboscis) and I walked up the hill, to sit looking inland at the rolling hills, tree-lined lanes and dotted houses. This hill is the site of a Bronze Age barrow, as well as some later quarrying activity. We talk about the landscape as a palimpsest of lives, and the voices that are woven between land, beach and sea.
On my way back down the coast, I stopped at Lyme and called in to see Richard Edmonds (Earth Science Manager, Jurassic Coast) and the Ichthyosaur. He has thinned the stone of all the pieces now, and begun the difficult and long job of sticking it back together again. The fossil looked beautiful, especially with a shaft of afternoon light from the doorway highlighting the topography of bones and shale. Richard has done an amazing job, and is beginning to reconstruct the story of the last days of the creatures life, 95 million years ago.
Tomorrow, I will be talking about Richard and the Ichthyosaur at the WORKSHOPTALK at Exeter University, which is part of the Small is Beautiful Project (http://www.smallisbeautifulproject.blogspot.co.uk/). The public viewing of the exhibition will be 1.30 -3.30 Saturday 14th April at The Street Gallery, Exeter University.
As always, photos are up on Flickr – http://www.flickr.com/photos/53424155@N02/