Beyond the horizon lies Antarctica
I’m still working on the final edits of ‘Sketchbook Sailor’, but we’re nearly there. Writing a book is like being pregnant – months of gently growing, then an intense and rather messy bit at the end. Anyway, I think I remember saying at the time that my ocean sailing trip was to be my last big adventure. It would get all the sea-longing out of my system, tick several things off the bucket list, and when it was over I would be content to stay close to home pottering on my little river until my joints get too creaky to clamber into a dinghy.
Wrong. Oceans are addictive and you never get to see what’s beyond the horizon, because your horizon moves with you.
When rounding the southern tip of South America on Boxing day last year, a strong northerly wind drove us south for a day or so. It was cold, wild and beautiful. Beyond that elusive horizon lay Antarctica. Later, ashore in the Falklands I watched Tecla sailing out of Port Stanley harbour bound for South Georgia and wished I was going with her. But let’s be sensible here – it’s a big planet and I’m lucky to have done so much. This pandemic year has made me appreciate the beauty of my home surroundings. I’ve spent my bucket list fund and this is not the time to be making travel plans.
On the other hand, it’s never a bad idea to rattle a door handle to see if it opens. Artist Shelley Perkins, a fellow Art Safari tutor, happened to mention that applications were closing soon for the post of Artist in Residence in Antarctica, an opportunity provided by the Friends of the Scott Polar Research Institute https://www.spri.cam.ac.uk/friends/artistinresidence/. I’d seen some of Shelley’s wonderful sketches of her residency there a few years ago but thought no more of it then. After all, art residencies are for Artists, aren’t they? Not people like me.
But my ocean sketchbooks must have given me a spark of confidence. With a week to go before applications closed I put my proposal together, illustrated it with a penguin or two from last year’s sketchbooks, and sent it in. To my surprise, I got the post. I’m off to Antarctica in 2021, spending a month or so as a guest of the Royal Navy on board HMS Protector. Where we go and what I’ll see I have no idea, but I intend to make the most of every experience. I don’t yet have departure dates but will by some new sketchbooks and dig out my Cape Horn thermal layers. I didn’t think I’d need them again so soon! Shall I travel without a camera this time? Let me know what you think!
How fresh was every sight and sound/ On open main or winding shore / We knew the merry world was round/ And we might sail for evermore (Tennyson)
OPEN STUDIO? WELL, OPEN-ISH….
Meanwhile, it’s a tricky month for all creatives who depend on pre-Christmas sales to get through the winter months. I was going to have my usual November open studio, with limited numbers – and of course now I’m not. If lockdown restrictions ease in December, I’ll quickly set some dates and hope to welcome a few socially distanced visitors. It would be lovely to see real people! Online sales are reasonably busy at the moment which is good and I’m getting the hang of dashing to the post office when it’s quiet. At this time of year there is also the popular ‘Salty Dogs’ pop up shop in Maldon, run by photographer Den Phillips and stuffed full of unusual and gorgeous maritime art and crafts. The shop is being set up as usual and I’ve taken some of my goodies down there, but they can’t open yet. They’ll be posting videos and pics online to show everyone what’s on display and you can collect by appointment. Hopefully their doors will be properly open in December https://denphillipsphotos.com/?page_id=205
If you’re local to Woodbridge and want to pop in to my studio to pick up some shopping, get in touch. I can’t be open as usual but you can collect orders by appointment which means you’ll be the only visitors, and for the next few months at least I’m happily going nowhere!