Dark Skies Wild Seas
This is my first time in Cornwall. I'd heard of it when growing up in Australia. I'd heard of it during my three years in the north of England. I'd heard of it through the media, the news, friends' story telling of their youths. I'd seen the blue and white stripes and the beach decor, the tacky trinkets and tourism-scape. I'd heard "oh you simply must" and I'd heard the "it's where all the artists go". I hadn't heard that it was dark. That it was rough. It cuts you and makes you breathe hard. The wind reminds you that this land isn't yours and you're easily blown away. The oceans pummel you even from afar.
What struck me most was the colour.
I never knew that England could have such azure waters. The azure kingfisher is native to the Southern Hemisphere, particularly Australia and New Guinea, but I expected it to appear constantly. Why does foreign land make you think more of home?
The grey stones were streaked with bloody red, soft blues and greens with mottled white and the most brilliant golden lichen I'd ever seen. It's cups and flutes hugging ancient stone saying 'don't touch' but 'do stare'. Being told that these rocks, this casual pathway, can be found on the moon. The moon I have drawn and researched and obsessed over for years. Funny how links to your obsessions filter through all life. More so when you aren't hunting them.
We stood on the Earth's mantle. There's something romantic about it being named the mantle. "An important role" or a "shroud". And we stood on it; gumboots on one of the rarest occurrences. Gumboots where no human should be. Ladies shrieking as they wild swim and kids asking to go back into the warmth of home. It was beautiful in it's unassuming, un-celebrated presence. It was just there. A modest line of rock and grit and sand, the weight of it just sitting. Suspended above the mantel holding the rest of the world up. Yet also grand in it's accolades and history. Greater than the rest of the coast line in it's rarity and celebrity. We stood on the Earth's mantle on an average Monday afternoon.
The scramble along coastal rocks, up and down cliffs, over paths more worn by animal than person were thrilling. The threat of fall, slip, cut, trip making each step more worthwhile and tense. I only discovered my desire to flirt with risk on those edges. The borders of height and depth. The other artists talked a lot about boundaries and borders. Not something I'd given a terrible amount of thought to. I've crossed many borders. Moving frequently throughout my life and crossing borders with a sense of accomplishment or simple 'tick that off the list' rather than respecting the spiritual, intangible nature of borders. Why we draw them, why we feel them and see them and put such weight in them. Then there's the rather more tangible border between land and sea. Forest and meadow. Water and dry ground. The borders between living plant and active soil against semi-permanent rock and hard cliff. I am sad to have not spent time thinking about it, but glad to have felt the change in observance out on those edges.
Discussing the chemistry and the physics so integral to the Lizard Peninsular's uniqueness brought a new level of understanding and respect to my exploration. The rock bed itself providing rare combinations of minerals to the soil, resulting in totally unique diversity in the flora of the coast makes me somehow cheekily happy and proud. Curious to be so personally affected by it. Curious to feel a sense of belonging to something special and rare. Being so new to the region and startlingly unaware about most of what makes people 'from' Cornwall's Lizard, I find it fascinating to feel this level of wanting to be owned by this place and owning my place here - something very new to me. Perhaps this is the look that people get when they reminisce about their childhoods down here.
The land claims you.