Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Of Tides and Currents

The weather in England is so changeable, that's why us Brits are forever discussing the weather as a topic of conversation - it becomes part of who we are - forever ingrained in our cells. I visited Pembrokeshire in Wales, UK recently, and true to form the weather changed day to day and unfortunately for me, not for the better.

The sea at Pembrokeshire, Wales - painting
The Wave © Angela Cutler 2012
Pembrokeshire is a lovely part of Wales - mostly quite rural with small towns and some picture postcard seaside towns like Tenby. However, the draw for me is St. David's on the farthest south-western point jutting out from the peninsula. St. David's, the place, is so called due one of the holiest men of Wales and their patron saint, born at about 500AD. An historic cathedral was built in his name and in its time was one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Christendom. That all has past, but the cathedral still stands and attracts a host of tourists from around the world. A little further out, off the beaten track, if you care to explore is the supposed spot that he was born and raised - a small chapel sits here named after David's mother, St. Non, as well as a sacred spring whose water's are said to heal the sick.

St. David's, Pembrokeshire © Tony Crook
Even after all the centuries have passed, here you still feel the past pushing against the present; fervent Christianity has waned here, belief in saints and healing water are now no more than curiosities. However, the area is so steeped in its history that you can still feel this exude from the granite it sits on. When I visited, the weather closed in, the sky turned grey, a stern breeze blew and it rained and rained. Far from putting a dampener on my holiday the weather somehow lent an ethereal feel to the place - the light was not just grey, there was a shifting of subtle hues which gave rise to a mood that almost made you feel time could shift easily and magically from the present to the past. There was nothing else to do with my time here except explore and when the weather further closed in, sit quietly and allow the atmosphere to soak in. It's little wonder this area draws so many artists to live in or paint the place. As I sat on the headland being somewhat battered by the weather, I could not help but feel imbued with the history and rugged beauty surrounding me.

Caerfae Bay © Tony Crook
I was sat in Caerfai Bay with the tide fully in, watching the sky and the light shift from grey to mauve to blue and back again. The sea boiled and crashed around the granite rocks in the bay - the inclement weather added to the deepening atmosphere of the divine, I felt that I was closer to God here. My journey in life has been difficult with many challenges and at that moment, time stopped. Somehow, the sea, the sky, the light all combined to uplift me and call to my spirit - the feeling of God's spirit crashing over me, and hence this is the inspiration of my painting - The Wave. A metaphor for life, God, spirit - all crashing over me - but not with a fierceness, despite the strength of the currents - I felt there was a gentleness here. 

The Wave - detail © Angela Cutler 2012
This painting is one of a set of four completed when I arrived home - one of my first few since taking up art again last year. Each of the paintings encompass a different aspect of my encounter with St. David's peninsula and they could be summarised as gentleness, harmony, passion and this one - zephyr. In order to portray the movement, the vigor and shifting of the water, light and wind, I tried to make the medium I used as 3-D as possible liberally using acrylic putty to add shape to the foaming sea, and I feel, for me, I've captured my experience.

Photos: Tony Crook at Light and Soul Photography