Today, in bright sunshine, a light breeze and temperature in the low 20s i.e. one of the few good summer days so far this year, I visited the place along the Suffolk coast where I collect flotsam and jetsam to use for artistic purposes and in particular to make into small mini-sculptures: I thought a few more for the Halesworth exhibition at the end of this month could be useful. In one sense I collected a good harvest – lots of bits of stone, brick, tile etc, in fact almost more than I could carry in my big Ikea blue bag.
But it was immediately apparent when I started looking that the assemblage on the shingle had been ‘got at’ – at first I suspected that much of the ‘good’ material had been removed by other artists, and I’ve little doubt that that is true since many search the shore for inspiration and material. The more I searched critically, the more it became apparent that the bits and pieces on the beach were but the remnants of what the sea had left behind. Then the truth dawned as I realized there was nothing of plastic along the beach, nothing of one of the commonest of all materials along a high-tide mark. Not a bottle or a plastic bag in sight. In other words, this beach had been purged of its litter – and much of its interest – by well-intentioned litter collectors keeping our beaches clean, about whom I have written earlier this year.