Art and the Sea: Exploring the Relationship
Like almost everyone I imagine, I love to be near the sea. Living in Brighton and having about a whole 3mm of sea view from the skylight in my loft, the sea is a big part of my life. I feel like everytime I venture to the sea on trips and holidays, there’s such a heightened presence of art and artists everywhere. Small galleries filled with art and the sea, with a heavy influence of the sea, are abundant even in tiny little seaside towns. I’ve put together some thoughts and exploration into the relationship between art and the sea, to unpick the creative reasons why we are drawn to it.
(A portrait of the ocean by my friend Gemma, a fellow seaside lover. We have future plans to run away and build a Cornwall dream art studio!)
Casual working / less “proper jobs” – with the rise of Air B’n’Bs everywhere providing steady income and many autonomous hotels and B’n’B businesses, seaside towns never seem to have any huge office blocks or giant soulless calling centres. I’m probably just not noticing this, and instead, trying to understand what life is like the people living in the remote cottage next to the cliff face. I’ve driven around Cornwall, Devon, the coast of Gallway and have always wondered where the jobs were! Perhaps it’s the lack of “rat race” or daily grind that makes people more creative? People have more time and there is a demand for art from tourists so more opportunity to make money from creating artwork and other craft?
More wealth – the classic, wealthy people have a second seaside home, they’ve packed up after years in the city and bought a coastal home or have family wealth and run a small B’n’B? Who really knows the financial status of people dwell in seaside areas but it is a plausible hypothesis. Wealthy people buy expensive art supplies, make a few paintings and sell them in gift shops, all collect in one area?
Emotional weather – with the howling winds beating against the coast, electric storms lighting up the sky during the summer and intensive wind and rain. The sea can be a foul mistress. It can absorb and relay back the darkest of moods on one day and soothe the soul with gently rippling waves the next. We seem to be able to hold a deep connection with the sea and channel ourselves into it.
Colour pallets – we are talking every imaginable range of blues, greens, turquoise and greys. With sprinkles of white foam, earthy green seaweed pops of colour from rubbish being washed up. The ocean is an absolutely unique pallet range of natural depth in a way I find hard to compare against, say, the forest or city. It’s the depth of water influencing colour, the movement, the sky against the water, the reflections and ultimate power of the waves!
Holiday vibes and relaxation – I would say it’s true for a lot of us that the seaside signifies being on holiday, right? Even for me, living by the sea, walking along it or sitting beside it has no place in the working day. Most holidays I have been on have had the presence of sea or water. I find it a point in the holiday where we go quite and reflect on life just staring into the depth and water. That relaxation and reflection are ideal breeding grounds for creativity, whether it’s digesting emotions, being inspired by colour or feeling relieved of daily stress, holidays do make us more creative.
A few creatives making art by the sea:
Steve Slimm – Cornwall
Andrew Giddens – Cornwall
Abstract oceans for the very, very fashionable.
Laura Edgar – Whitley Bay
Maggie Hambling, The Wave