Posts Tagged ‘beach offerings’

From Idea to Form

Monday, February 17th, 2014


On how I transform something from an idea into some form, this pic says much.   I have always thought any ‘line’ can be a cut, a seam or a line of stitches.   So using a pic I’ve taken of some pattern,  and using some form of my very, very basic, tech tools –  in  this case PE11  (Photoshop Elements 11) – I will choose to resize, manipulate, re-draw, change colours, whatever .  Those photo-editing programs are wonderful, but as I say I just go ‘basic’, more or less one or two steps up from the lead pencil and simple diagrams+lists  I’ve always done.  Here I have collaged a sample with part of a sand pattern photo on which I drew with PE11 to show how my brain takes an image to a form via fabric and thread.

I was recently asked where my ideas come from.  All over the place ! is my  answer.   Right now ‘holes’ and ‘lace – widest interpretation of’ are on my mind as I am focus less on The Quilt itself, and more on wherever exploration takes me with mixed media and stitch.  Since the late ’70’s the wheel has turned a full circle, I think.

Sand Pattern and Other Beach Stuff

Friday, October 25th, 2013

I guess you can say sunrise is the grand finale of the dawn – but I missed it this morning by about 1o minutes.  At 6-45 it was rather cold on the beach, with a slight wind blowing.  The cleaners had been along late yesterday, and the little hut up on stilts that shelters the lifeguard has been delivered and put in place.  These huts are collected up and put into storage from mid April to October.  In the summer the lifeguard begins duty at 8am -and I’m wondering if it will be the same one who’s been there the past previous 2 summers.

As I walked along,  I saw only one offering, and at first thought it was just rubbish (Uruguayans are pretty awful with rubbish) but the pigeons returned to continue eating something up there once the dog moved on, so I wandered from the water’s edge up to the top of the beach, where I took photos of this offering.  I haven’t seen one laid out on newsprint before, and forgot to check which paper it was …  and now wonder, is the major metro daily or a lesser one favoured for this kind of thing?

Beach patterns oct 2013


And a really nice sand pattern down on the firm damp sand.  There were few footprints at that hour so I was able to choose a nice section.  As you know I photograph sand patterns frequently.  I’ve been thinking of collaging ‘holes’ (see previous post)  and lines (as usual) with other textures for which the potential of ‘stitch’ is never far away  (see recent posts on the glorious straight stitch, and some of my pre-1988 mixed media works )    In the last week or so I’ve discovered the inspiring mixed media work of Debbie Lyddon  whose treatment of coastal landscape in fabric, paint and stitch is truly fabulous.

Presentation Is Everything.

Monday, February 11th, 2013

I always have my camera with me when I walk on the beach here, as offerings to the spiritual figures of the belief system that crossed the Atlantic with the African slave trade are likely to appear.  Of course the history of that trade is appalling, but the deeply held beliefs continue to sustain many now-free people up and down the americas. In all societies these beliefs are expressed and confirmed through ritualistic practices, art and music, all of which are handed down orally and aurally, and usually augmented by documents and text as a society moves towards literacy.

When I first came here I was rather disgusted by what I thought was merely discarded litter, and to be fair, although things have improved, back then there were far too few rubbish bins around Uruguayan streets, rubbish collection could be intermittent, and I have seen many people casually throw down litter in the street or out of windows of moving vehicles.  Though better now, it is still one of the things that has always bothered me in this country.   One day several years back I encountered a group of three women carefully taking several figurines down to the water and ritualistically ‘rinsing’ them.  They obviously didn’t mind me watching, and when I asked a question they began to tell me the first things I’d ever heard about the Goddess of The Sea, Imanja.  From the way they talked and handled these figurines they were sincere and I found it all very interesting.  I realised that when freshly set out on the beack, before being scattered by the tide, some of these things often included perfectly good candles and fresh flowers.  I began asking questions of Uruguayan friends, and a couple of people have offered to take me to ‘services’ of this system, but so far I haven’t felt OK about that – not all the offerings are ‘good’ – some represent curses or bad spells.

I didn’t go to the beach on the night of feb 2nd this year (the sea goddess’ birthday) but two days later I came across the little blue boat, below, still bobbing around in the water at our local beach.  That was quite good really, for the usual attrition rate of vessels launched that night is 100% destruction within a few hours!  I got close enough to see that its contents were gone (tipped out by waves I guess, but if so someone put if afloat again)   It was lovely – a flat bottomed basic boat shape, very effectively waterproofed with blue sticky back vinyl or similar, and large shells glued along the sides.  Especially on that night, people take great care and time to design and construct their offerings to float out to the sea goddess.

beach offerings feb 2013

I’m sure I’ve posted the watermelon one before, but its beautiful simiplicty makes it one of my favourites, however the lovely blue ribbon was vinyl, and on the whole the practice does leave quite a bit of non-biodegradable debris, such as the ubiquitous styrofoam, plastic bags and other plastic bits -they’re all cheap and/or recycled materials.

beach offerings non biodegradable elements

However, as my regular readers will know, one of the things that attracts me to these offerings is the care with which they are always prepared and presented, and the fact that they are taken down to the beach, always at night, usually in the pre-dawn hours. In the lower part of the first pic: the dead chicken and half empty jar of honey were atop a decent selection of fruits and vegetables; you can see many candles and some flowers (carnations are popular ?significant) the white grains might be rice and on the other side some variety of bean. Inside the mound of stuff might have been a few coins, and perhaps cheap pretty jewellery or a small bottle of cheap perfume – these things please the sea goddess and are often included.  In the yellow offering above, you can see quite a number of 10 peso coins (each about 50c US) and being yellow, it was almost certainly to another goddess in the spiritual pantheon.

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