Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sandy Point

Brace yourself - this is a long post, but at least there are plenty of pretty pictures. I found my way into St. Georges without any real plan. There are some beaches there and I found plenty of shards and made a nice arrangement on the beach. But I had also heard about this place across the bay called Sandy Point, a resettled community that apparently was once the centre of the Bay St. George fishery. I wandered around town for a few hours talking to whoever I could about going out there. It was harder to find a lift than I imagined. Eventually I stumbled across perhaps the most interesting man in St. Georges, Eugene Sheppard, who, although he didn't take me seriously at first, did eventually agree to take me to Sandy Point.

Eugene works for Forestry, is an avid outdoorsman, is a woodcarver in his spare time, and oh yeah - has assembled this amazing railway museum entirely through his own efforts and resources. A true renaissance man for sure.

I was so happy to visit Sandy Point - you could hardly take a step without crunching a pottery shard underfoot, and Sandy Point is unlike any other resettled place I've ever seen. It really was a large population centre: there are hundreds upon hundreds of headstones in three separate cemeteries, large breakwaters and public wharves, and even roads with sidewalks still in existence. This is a stark contrast with a place like the Grey Islands where there is no evidence of any public works or infrastructure beyond the graveyard. Again, one questions the motive to leave such a place where so much has been invested.

There was such an abundance of raw material that I made five pieces in my short time on Sandy Point. The first was this little arc across a gully that led from a salt marsh into the bay. My first evening there the tide came in really high and filled the marsh - I thought I'd use that rush of water to disperse these pieces. But nature got the better of me: the tide never came in that high again, so these shards were exactly where I left them when I departed. There were so many shards available I was even able to make aesthetic choices about which ones I used and how. For this arrangement I alternated those with blue and those with brown along the length of the line.

Here is a similar one I made at much lower tide, and simply inserted them into the sand so they were sticking straight up. The wind was light and the waves weren't very high but the sea still took them away. I think what actually happens is that the water moves the sand from beneath them and then they have nowhere to go but down.

And this is another with the shards arranged in a circular pattern. I have lots of great action shots of the waves moving the pieces, and the may get compiled into an animation at some point, but not today.

There are also a significant number of bricks on the beach at Sandy Point, which I collected and made into this structure. Most of the bricks are really worn and off-square so I used wet sand to "cement" them together. As the sand dried in the wind the structure became untenable and collapsed.

And finally, I still had hundreds of shards left in my little pouch, so I took all the pure white ones and simply placed one atop each of the posts in the old breakwater. Some of them will probably be there for a while because they are well above the tide. But eventually even these will wash away when there is a big storm. I love the white on the black-and-white stumps.

I took over a thousand photos on Sandy Point. Eugene asked a pretty good question: "What are you going to do with all those pictures?" The answer is, simply, I don't know yet. This is the collection and experimentation phase more than anything else. But I do have a few ideas. I'd like to print some, and I'd like to animate some, and I'd like to collage some. But there are other more experimental things too. Perhaps I will expand on that later.

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