Artist’s Diary: just another day by the estuary


I had parked myself in one of the places along this stretch of the River Torridge, where, years ago,  boats were scrapped and stripped, and left to disintegrate.

I was planning to make some ephemeral work here, relating to the cliff face and the trees on top that were now shedding their autumn leaves. I thought: just before I start, I’ll take a few photos of those old wrecked boats I see along the edge of the water, that are now collapsing and sinking into the mud.  All went well as I skirted anti-clockwise around the perimeter of the vessels, getting so carried away in my enthusiasm that I forgot to pay attention to the ground underfoot. Until the time I looked up from the viewfinder and realised both feet were well and truly stuck in the estuary mud. This was not a good moment.

Here’s a photo taken from the very spot where I got stuck.

Torridge estuary, Northam

I do tend to get a bit messy when out in nature, but this time I surpassed myself by getting fairly well-covered from top to toe with a mix of biscuit coloured, but mostly black slimy estuary mud.  I don’t know how this happened, as I had been concentrating hard on hanging on to one of the boats, and struggling to reach terra firma without losing boots, camera or myself. Fortunately, I always carry rags etc. around with me when outdoors.

But by the time I had staggered back to my perch on the rocks, and cleaned up my hands and arms; cleaned black slime from all the way up the monopod – (I had used it as a walking stick to help heave myself out of the mud); spat on the camera and wiped it over very gently with tissue; slithered across the beach on my slime-covered boots, to find a tiny stream where I could stamp around and dislodge some of it…  by the time I had done all this, I’d lost all appetite for my original artwork plan, and I hadn’t got the photos I wanted either…

So I embarked on the long walk home, and was glad I didn’t meet anyone I knew.

Moral: Some people get sillier the older they get!

Here’s a few that I did manage to take. I very much like the way the old boats, as they submerge, are gradually becoming indistinguishable from the surrounding beach and cliffs.

PS Undaunted, I went back to the estuary the following day, and made the work. You can see the result on my Facebook Page (Linda Gordon).

About throughstones

I am primarily a visual artist, living on the North Devon coast, a beautiful semi-rural area in South West England. I am interested in full engagement with 'place' and the eternal movement of life - particularly as it relates to what we call 'the natural environment'.
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4 Responses to Artist’s Diary: just another day by the estuary

  1. The decaying boats have skeletal ribs like the carcasses of great beasts!


  2. sydney says:

    Hmm … have you considered doing something with the boats themselves? Those ribs are really enticing; there’s an in-built commentary on the ephemerality of the human-made in the face of natural forces. I feel like you[d be able to do something quite magical with these, especially with the fall leaves in the area.


    • Yes – they are enticing, aren’t they! That’s the trouble… I dont want to end up sinking in the mud like the boats! Just round the nearby little headland, someone has recently moored a huge old boat which dominates that little ‘secret’ cove. At first I thought it had been abandoned, but now I think someone is living on it.
      Thanks very much for your thought which I will tuck away in my head until I go back there – probably not until the Spring.


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