So I went back to Northam Burrows the other day on a bright sunny morning, and made Empty Nest as an expression of my connection with a particular place at particular moment in time. It’s made with driftwood, now strewn all along the beach after months of stormy weather, a little bit of dead marram grass that I’d found lying around, and bits of sheep’s fleece (the cleaner bits) that I had gathered up from the grassland beyond.
I dropped into a working rhythm, accompanied by a skylark overhead, singing at full throttle in a clear blue sky.
Empty Nest: Northam Burrows, North Devon, UK, 23 May 2016. Found materials: driftwood, dead marram grass, sheep fleece. Dia. approx. 1 metre.
I ended by breaking one of my own rules for when working uninvited in a public space: ‘Leave nothing behind but footprints’ – a rule I adopted from walking artist Hamish Fulton a great many years ago (though I think I have heard it said in other contexts). These days my rules are a bit more flexible, but I still think very carefully before leaving anything lying about.
And because I could not bring myself to destroy it, I left ‘Empty Nest’ in the sand where it lay – knowing full well it would be knocked down, blown or washed away within a couple of days or so.