Monday, 18 May 2020

Shingle, Prospect Cottage, Kettle’s Yard Museum … and Pebbles …



We all love to be by the seaside … walking in the soft sand, if one is lucky, or dropping to one’s knees to pick up pebbles … we’ve all come home with them … either with pockets filled up by the kids, or just by ‘us’ enamoured with a pebble’s charm …


2012 The Garden ... sculptures
and plantings on the shingle
I’m sure you’ll see this links with my recent posts about Eastbourne with its shingle beach, engineered groynes, which while attempting to stop the town flooding, curtail the easterly tidal drift … here’s yet another of this eclectic non-series …


Selection of pebbles
As I’m listening to the radio more in these lock-down times … my thoughts wander off – and this programme was about pebbles … art, gardens, geology, museums … so cometh this post!



Chicago's cuspate foreland

The pebbles find their way eastwards to Dungeness, a headland formed largely of a shingle beach in the form of a cuspate foreland, created primarily by longshore drift. 




Dungeness from the air
 There can be little development in that unstable coastal setting, but there is a part- decommissioned Nuclear Power Station, an old runway, a necessary intermittent railway terminus, subsequent limited housing, beach cottages for the fishermen … 


... and Prospect Cottage … the ecological site has protected and international conservation status across a number of disciplines … including geomorphological … a place of natural value to many a scientist …



Prospect Cottage - 2007

Derek Jarman (1942 – 1994), seriously ill with HIV, purchased the cottage to escape London and set about creating a retreat, a shingle garden … 



... he was a talented film director, stage designer, diarist, artist, gardener, and author … this landscape offered him consolation during his latter years.



An earlier view in 2004

His home has recently been purchased by the Art Fund so that the whole can be conserved and maintained for the future … the building, its contents and garden …



During the ‘pebble radio programme’ a sedimentary geologist discussed various rocks with resultant stones which find their way into our world of today …


The book the radio programme was based on
… one was a pebble surrounded by another aggregation … it was mentioned that this had ‘popped out’ from an iceberg almost a billion years ago … it wasn’t found in England! – but off the Alaskan/Canadian coast …



… that pebble is held in scientific splendour in Cambridge - then mention was made of Jim Ede’s Kettle’s Yard ... 



Kettle's Yard - was four cottages ...
now with an extension to
hold Jim Ede's various collections
... described as one of the country’s most intimate and spellbinding museums, the collection of one man and his unerring eye; restorative, homely yet life-changing …



Jim Ede spent time in Cornwall collaborating with artists in the studios at Newlyn and St Ives … after his work at the Tate Gallery, London proved too tedious to carry on … ‘fighting the conservative establishment’ … he set out on his (professional) itinerant life …



Alfred Wallis (1932)
The Hold  House Port Mear Square Island
Port Mear beach
I know that was another link-jump … to St Ives, Cornwall and the naïve artist Alfred Wallis (1855 – 1942), who worked all his life as a mariner, before turning fisherman-artist … Jim Ede encouraged him, while collecting some of his works …




Alfred Wallis (1942) - Noah's Ark
I have mentioned Wallis before when I wrote about Cornwall … and when I set up an Easter family tour of art at the Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne, postponed til next year …



… I spotted that the gallery holds works by Alfred Wallis … and so he is one of the artists I specified we would be shown.



Longshore drift showing spit build up
Surprisingly this life of pebble art has come full circle back to my home … after starting life billions of years ago, rolling into an ocean, drifting with the tides …



Blake's entry in his
Songs of Innocence and Experience
1794 collection of poems

… to perhaps be found in a garden, as an art piece, a photograph, or recorded in words … as the lines in Blake’s The Clod and the Pebble mete out:


‘But a Pebble of the brook
Warbled out these metres meet: …’





courtesy of Kettle's Yard Museum
one of Jim Ede's artistic works
I have long wanted to visit Cambridge and almost went before lock-down … so I will add Kettle’s Yard to my list … and see the Cornish, Sussex connections with art …


May you roll gently on as the pebbles are doing in this time of challenge …


Kettle’s Yard Museum, Cambridge …




Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

43 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Never thought that much about pebbles. But they are used to build many things. Prospect Cottage's yard is quite amazing.

Hels said...

I went to Cornwall specifically to see the landscape that so inspired the Newlyn School of Art. I hadn't heard of Wallis, but I can totally understand why the artists found it such a wonderful region to live and work in.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

My father was a rockhound and I managed to save about 300 rocks from his collection.

Joanne said...

a rather poetic pebble prose piece. It tumbled through quite a few subjects, but stayed smooth. I love the luster of pebbles found at the beach.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Now Hilary, I just wish you could provide a little more information and show a little more enthusiasm for your topic!! As always, an esoteric meander through fields of knowledge hitherto unknown to most of us. I shall never look at pebbles the same way again. It is interesting (perhaps) that years ago I used interesting rocks (big pebbles) that I had collected as paperweights, and really quite delighted in them. Then for some reason people started giving me paperweights as little gifts, and the rocks slowly got moved out and restored to nature. How I wish I had chucked out the paperweights and saved the rocks instead! Have a wonderful week ahead, Hilary, and know that a grateful Canadian is always delighted to read your posts. The week that starts with Hilary starts well.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
Ooh, a pet subject of mine! Father was an amateur geologist (connected to his need to understand groundwork as an electrical engineer - power distribution); much of my childhood was spent in Suffolk and the beaches we visited were, of course, shingle. Dad got busy learning lapidary and, by default, so did I. All from pebbles found. Now I again live where shingle is the shoreline and have started a whole new collection of pebbles, but leaving them as found!

I adore that Jarman's home has finally received the funding and will get the care it deserves. YAM xx

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Those pebbles are so pretty! The ones I see here aren't so much. :) We have a lot of red clay here and maybe that's why.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Alex – it’s strange that something so common makes up our world, and is where this earth originated. Prospect Cottage must be amazing to visit … I hope to get there …

@ Hels – my part of the world … my mother lived there for 40 years … so it’s home to me. I hadn’t heard of Wallis until I wrote the Cornwall A-Zs in 2015 … I dug around quite a lot … and he came up and I remembered the reference to Jim Ede …

@ Diane – oh yes I’d forgotten your father was a rockhound … but I’m glad you were able to save those rocks/pebbles from his collection … good memories of him …

@ Joanne – very onomatopoeic ‘poetic pebble prose piece’! It did tumble through a few subjects – as is my way … but geomorphologically it fits. I agree the lustre of pebbles washed over as the tide comes in … can be so pretty …

@ David – well one thing led to another and I wanted to remember many of the links. I must admit geomorphology captured me – but I’ve stopped picking up pebbles as I walk the coastline now-a-days.

Oh yes – rocks for paperweights makes sense, as too keeping the gifts while returning your stones to nature. But I think I understand your meaning … the rocks would be better now – blend in with your avian friends and art …

Many thanks re the complement …

@ Yam – I think many of us must be amateur geologists … and can quite see why you were kept hooked with the link to your father. Yes Suffolk has shingle beaches – but a wonderful place to have holidays. Also there’s a lot of amber to be found offshore and onshore … and probably other sea-glass pebbles …

Being a lapidarist with your father must have been fun – I’ve often looked at others’ works … and I’m sure as kids we must have had a kit … but I don’t remember using it.

So pleased you know about Jarman’s home – yes I was pleased to see it had been purchased and will be restored for future years. I hope to visit at some stage …

@ Elizabeth – thanks … I think your clay is of the Ultisol type – see Wiki for more information … where the rocks have been broken down to soils …

Great to see you here … and so pleased some of you are ‘closet’ geologists, or just engaged with tumbling around my world – really appreciate the interesting comments – cheers Hilary

Debdatta Dasgupta Sahay said...

that spiral with the pebbles in the last photo is amazing!

Rhodesia said...

As ever a really interesting post that I know little about before. I have a few pebbles here that I planned to paint, but somehow there is never enough time for anything extra in life it seems. Staying at home in lockdown I thought would give me time to do many things, instead, I seem to be busier than ever!! At least I am not amongst the ones that say they are bored!!

I love Derek Jarman's shingle garden and I am delighted that it has been bought and will be looked after.

Take care and remain safe, Diane

Chatty Crone said...

I am shocked at what can be made out of pebbles - I had NO idea! Awesome.

Jacqui Murray said...

I was digging into prehistoric Britain (circa 850,000 years ago)--I can't tell you why because it would be a spoiler for my next book! But I was surprised at some of the beaches there that are shedding their shoreline, exposing artifacts from hundreds of thousands of years before historians thought man lived in Britain. Quite interesting.

Elephant's Child said...

Yet another fascinating post which started my mind wandering (not that it needs much encouragement).
My father was a rock hunter so memories were triggered too.
As always, many, many thanks - and I hope you get to Cambridge soon.
If you have not yet come across it I suspect that 'Mudlark In Search of London's Past Along the River Thames by Lara Maiklem would be right up your very broad alley (and is on my own wish list).

Liz A. said...

Each pebble tells a story.

Botanist said...

Ah, yes, fond memories when the kids were younger of beachcombing and pockets full of interesting pebbles :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Debdatta – many thanks … the spiral is a protected art work at the museum …

@ Diane – it was a good ‘run around’ for me … I see lots of painted pebbles around – it’d be a fun project to do … perhaps you will be able to get the paint pots out later on in the year. Yes, I’m not bored either thankfully …
I’m glad you know about Derek Jarman – and yes it’s wonderful the garden and cottage have been saved.

@ Sandie – oh I missed off lots of ideas about pebbles! But I enjoyed writing the post …

@ Jacqui – I know you’ve been checking out early histories and have come across our Happisburgh footprints in Norfolk, an article appears in Wiki, which you’re using as research for your books. I went to see the Natural History exhibit a few years ago, but missed the 2017 exhibition at the British Museum. They’ve recently found new evidence of earlier man in central Europe …

@ EC – my mind certainly doesn’t need any help with wandering off … it gets called out rather more often than I like! That’s great this post triggered memories for you about your rock hunter father …

I hope I get to Cambridge soon – could well being next year … but we’ll see – as I’ll stay with friends when I go up; I’ve heard of the book Mudlark along the River Thames – but haven’t read it … I’ll make a plan to get it out of the library once we can access books again. Thanks for the recommendation …

@ Liz – yes those pebbles would be able to tell many a story …

@ Ian – it’s a childhood thing isn’t it – collecting rocks/pebbles … which in due time get ‘chucked out’ … the geology of life in our homes.

Thanks so much to you all – just delighted you enjoyed my tumbling pebbles – all the best - Hilary

Mason Canyon said...

Hilary, an interesting post about pebbles something we seem to take for granted but can serve such a wonderful purpose.

Sandra Cox said...

I love stones. So many lovely shapes and colors.
The shingle garden is beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Chrys Fey said...

I would love to collect some pebbles from that photo. Every pebble contains a story of where it's been.

diedre Knight said...

This was refreshing, Hilary! Your posts are always a pleasurable experience. I can't wait to read about your visit to Kettle's Yard. I'm sure it can't happen soon enough ;-)

Anabel Marsh said...

Who knew pebbles could be so interesting?

DMS said...

Pebbles have more to them than most people realize. :) Amazing to think about the journey of each one. Thanks for sharing this interesting post. :)
~Jess

Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

Pebbles are here, there and everywhere but we give them little thought as we go through our day to day lives

retirementreflections said...

Beautiful pebbles. You have covered so much here, HIlary, and have done so very smoothly. I learn a great deal from your posts.

Denise Covey said...

Hilary, you almost make me wish we had some pebble beaches ... not. I love the soft sand. But isn't that cottage with the shingled garden an inspiration. I'm glad it will live on as a work of art.

Annalisa Crawford said...

Hello Hilary!
I miss pebbles beneath my feet so much. Although we're allowed to travel a bit now, we've decided to remain home as much as possible, so I'm left imagining the sound of them. That cottage is cute.

Keith's Ramblings said...

I love pebbles. Most days I wander along the waterline with them crunching under my feet. Dungeness is another great place to visit on a summer's day if only to spot birds! Right, I'm off to the beach.

Sandra Cox said...

We loved collecting sea shells when we walked along the shore.

Pradeep Nair said...

That's a very informative trail. Pebbles can lead to a lot of exciting things! Geology is an interesting subject. I used to like it during my school days.

Nas said...

Hi Hilary!

I also like to collect pebbles and coral from the beach. Interesting information.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Mason – and so many other interesting and important uses …

@ Sandra – yes stones – geology really explains their origin; while the shingle garden is beautiful …

@ Chrys – you’re right every pebble has its own story; oddly we have a by-law that prohibits us collecting stones and pebbles from beaches … strange but true!

@ Diedre – delighted you enjoyed the different read; my visit to Cambridge won’t be til next year at the earliest … though I’d prefer it to be next week! I’ll report back …

@ Anabel – it’s a funny old world – how things can become interesting – isn’t it …

@ Jess – it was a wandering post linking various memories … especially the art – and then William Blake’s poem …

@ Jo-Anne – now we don’t realise how pebbles are used …

@ Donna – it was a wandering post … but am glad it seemed to flow smoothly …

@ Denise – I understand your ‘not’ to pebble beaches – we here in Sussex have a bit of sand, and those areas or beaches are swamped by people … so we make do with shoes and shingle! Yes I was pleased Derek Jarman’s cottage had been saved for the nation … just before lock-down too …

@ Annalisa – if you live in the sort of area you live in … I’d be happy wandering the fields, rather than going to the beach – being here: gives me this option. The movement and noise of the shingle is lovely to listen to … I haven’t been to Dungeness properly for years … but can imagine the cottage …

@ Keith – like you it’s been beautiful to be able to get to the beach so easily … and I can see your part of the world when I look across Pevensey Bay … just enjoy …

@ Sandra – oh we had wonderful shells as kids when we were in Cornwall … but here not many …

@ Pradeep – thanks … there was a lot I wanted to include … and good to know you enjoyed geology as you grew up – that grounding is there isn’t it …

@ Nas – it must be amazing to be able to collect coral, along with interesting pebbles, from beaches – I’ve never had that opportunity.

Thanks to you all – take care and look after yourselves and families … Hilary

A Cuban In London said...

This is such a gorgeous post. I loved Derek Jarman's movies. I know he was really far out there, but for me he was a very influential artist.

Greetings from London.

Hilary said...

Hi Hilary,
I saw your name on the comments of my school friends Yamini’s blog, I guess your name stood out as we have the same name and there are not that many of us about are there?
I was talking to Yamini yesterday and I happened to mention I had seen your comments and she said I must look at your blog as she felt it would be of interest to me.
I certainly picked the right day to look, lots of things I can relate too. First the pebbles on the beach, coming from Suffolk the beaches are covered with pebbles, but have recently moved to Northumberland and the beaches are wonderfully sandy, but dotted with sea coal, jet, amber and fossils in the pebbles. I heard about Derek Jarman’s cottage on an edition of the BBC’s ‘Countryfile’ earlier in the year and I am sure it was on a gardening programme too.
My grandmother came from Cornwall so we had lots of holidays down there and have memories of visiting Newlyn and St Ives. I use to work in Cambridge and as an Archivist was able to visit several of the city’s Archives and Museums including Kettle’s Yard. That is certainly a special place, I remember seeing Alfred Wallis’s art and loving it and hearing all about Jim and Helen Ede.
And finally, I studied Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience at Uni.
It is raining here today so am going to spend what will be an enjoyable few hours reading your past posts.
Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ ACIL - many thanks and am so glad you obviously so enjoyed the links and tumbling journey. I actually don't know much about Derek Jarman - but must look into his life's work more ... while he sprung into my memory bank via Prospect Cottage and its situation on the shingle beach at Dungeness.

@ Hilary - well that's a co-incidence ... I didn't think I'd commented on my own post! I'm always surprised and yet think that there are quite a few Hilarys around ... there were 3 in my class at school and we were a small class. I'm delighted to hear from you via Yam ... and I've emailed her ... hoping you'll email me directly, so at times we can stay in touch.

Again I haven't been to Suffolk that often - though my grandmother came from there ... before settling in St Ives. I only know the Northumberland area from one visit with my father - but it was appallingly hot and we spent the time trying to keep inside ... 1976 it must have been. The beaches along your coasts are full of interesting pebbles - as you mention amber, jet, sea coal and fossils in pebbles ... I didn't know what sea coal was ... but just looked.

Interesting that our grandmothers both lived in Cornwall - yours coming from there, mine, on marriage, going to live there - my mother used to live in Penzance, but the family were from St Ives.

I was schooled in Oxford ... but never went to University - though my father, uncle and cousin went to Oxford. I'd love to visit Cambridge sometime and have a good look around - I'm sure I'll get there soonish ...

As for Blake - I went up to the Tate's exhibition earlier this year - so there will be a post on that. I've lots to catch up on re posting.

It's dry as a bone down here - lots of warm wind today ... but we need the rain. Some time - but not for a while apparently ...

I'm honoured and staggered you're going to browse through my 'archive' ... and yes I'd love to find out more about your work ... thanks for being in touch - and hope we can email/phone at some stage.

Thanks to the two of you for your comments - love to have them ... stay safe and all the best at this time - Hilary

bazza said...

Derek Jarman never really gained the recognition he deserved!
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s abnormally antic Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Victoria Marie Lees said...

This is all so wonderful, Hilary! Gosh! I want to go to the Jersey shore right now. We have water-smooth pebbles at our Cape May beach on the point. Some of the pebbles tumble into clear diamond-like stones. They are called "Cape May Diamonds." We can purchase cut Cape May stones that shine like real diamonds. I have a pair of earrings made from Cape May diamonds. All best to you, my dear.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Bazza - at least he's got recognition now ... and how many creative people obtain recognition after death ...

@ Victoria - that's great the post took you off to your New Jersey shore and fascinating to read about Cape May diamonds and their origin - they sound quite delightful ... and must be beautiful to wear - lucky you!

Thanks to you two ... take care and stay safe ... all the best Hilary

Susan Scott said...

oooo this is so interesting and lovely Hilary thank you for it. I'm always collecting stones and in fact am in throes of constructing an aloe garden with stones. I'm going to investigate your post further xx

Sandra said...

I need that 'selection of pebbles' for my garden:)
YOU take special care.

troutbirder said...

I have a box filled with pebbles which my beloved wife Mrs. T.(Barb) love to fill each year when we vacationed on Vancouver Island. She passed away last October from the effects of Alzheimer's and I treasure that small box now filled with memories. Ray

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Susan - thank you ... a ramble of my mind as well as to things of interest ... enjoy your look around - especially Kettle's Yard ...

@ Sandra - the pebble art is amazing isn't it ... and all well here thank you.

@ Ray - that's lovely that your wife's simple pleasures now give you lots of comfort ... losing loved ones is so difficult - take care and all the best now.

Thanks so much for visiting - stay safe - Hilary

Deniz Bevan said...

Wow, I'd had no idea about Jarman's retreat! I love the phrase "longshore drift", it's so poetic. Aeons of time passing, creating beauty...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Thanks Deniz - glad you knew about Jarman ... I must get up to the cottage to take a look once we're free to travel once again. The way the sands of life are pushed around the ocean is just fascinating - and to know we, the earth, and its various continents are always on the move just bemuses me. While poetic phrases or descriptions I think abound in our literature and language.

Good to see you - Hilary