Coccolith Cloud, Handfast Point, Studland. 2012. acrylic and cliff materials on paper. 76x57cm unframed size.
MILKY WATERS AND COCCOLITH CLOUDS.
Last Friday we had an 'Artists' Talk' evening event at Sladers Yard in West Bay. I shared with an audience the reasons why work evolves the way I does. I decided to trace the development of one of the images in the show. Every picture in the exhibition has its own story but I decided on Coccolith Cloud to ponder its formation. I'd like to share this with you too- in this my first letter from West Dorset.
I've included below six factors that contributed to the piece in a list. Giving a talk is a good way to clarify things in one's mind- hence the list! The insights below are woven into sketchbooks along side site visits. Not particularly focussed site visits- but times when I'm open to be surprised.
The piece was made at the edge of the cliff over several months and slowly.
I also give my change of address at the very end.
If you do come to the show (last day 31st May) do contact me incase I can pop over. It's open every day.
Six considerations in the making of COCCOLITH CLOUD:
1. MILKY WATER.
After a cliff fall or storm, a pale stain of milky ‘ clouded water hangs in the water like a giant jelly fish. It most probably is a 'milk' of dispersed coccolith shields*. In mixing my own chalk suspensions using grated chalk cliff and other cliff materials I am re-introducing these nano fossils to sea water and releasing them to float around in water once again…and then allowing them settle within the paint surface. Other stains and pigments have been imprisoned within the body of chalk and by working in this way I am echoing the depositions and erosion taking place since.
2. CRETACEOUS COCCOLITHS* (nano fossils formed from calcium carbonate platelets or rings secreted by single celled algae or coccolithophores) are 'held' in the fabric of this painting and in all the Studland series of paintings. When these organisms died in their trillions, the coccoliths fell onto the ocean floor and formed a lime ooze that later becomes the compressed rock of the current chalk cliffs.
3. A MARINE SNOW STORM
The minute coccoliths fall down through warm calm waters onto a 'pallid sea-floor' like 'a marine snow storm, the falling of flakes through one of the clearest seas ever known.'
(Chapter 6, Creation of The Lowlands, from A Land by Jacquetta Hawkes)
This poetic image informs all my chalk-filled images.
4. RHYTHM OF BREATHING 'The history of the earth's crust, then, has a rhythm. ...if the movement could be speeded up, as in a cinematograph, we should see a rise and fall as though of breathing. (chapter 2, Creation from The Land by Jacquetta Hawkes)
The multiple profiles of Handfast point in the image is the consequence of the imagined inhale and exhale.
5. HUMAN PRESENCE
or not? There is a suggestion of a possible human presence in the mid foreground...offering a scale to the composition- or maybe not.
6. CERULEUM BLUE
The blue of pallid sea bed shot through with sunlight.
Also the blue of a Guillemot egg...
The exhibition works can be seen here: Included are pieces made in Cairngorm and NW Highlands of Scotland, Devon, Dorset and Pembrokeshire.
EARTH by Frances Hatch a 24pp colour booklet with a foreword by Professor Simon Olding, is available to buy from Sladers Yard or myself for £8 plus £1 p&p within the UK or to download here: