The North Devon Coast
Hi there, my name is Jake, I am a Metal Artist, and I live with my partner, and two children, on the North Devon coast of the UK.
Living on the coast, is in my opinion, a truly wonderful experience, as the sea scape never remains the same for long. There is always something new to discover on the coast line whenever, or however often you visit it. Where else in life, can you get such a fresh canvas to explore, as on the coast, after the last tide has just washed the beach clean, leaving it waiting to have its new treasures and delights discovered.
I never come home from the coast empty handed, once upon a time this might not have been a true statement, but now there is a whole tribe of us that regularly attend the beach, so there is no chance of that now. My three year old son normally still has half the beach in his bucket, coupled with some kind of obnoxious substance that he has managed to turn up from somewhere, (as seems to be the nature of boys) my partner will have numerous bit of sea polished sticks and stones rattling around in her pocket, my daughter who is still to young to enjoy the beach properly, will be wearing a sandy smile from her enjoyable experience, and my trophy will normally be a plastic toy of some shape or form. You can guarantee if there is a plastic toy on the beach to be found, then I will be the one who finds it, its odd how you find yourself strangely attracted to similar objects, just like a magnet. We all do our bit for the environment when we are there as well, making a point of picking up as much of the tangled mess of fishing tackle, as we can find, and you will always see it coupled with numerous carrier and bait bags, left strewn around by the fishermen just waiting to ensnare our unwitting wild and sea-life. I used to fish myself, and still do from time to time, although I always return my catch. I could never understand why, some of the fishermen who regularly use and enjoy this coast line for their pleasure, can be so disrespectful to it. It really doesn't take much effort, to take your spent bags home with you, and leave an area clean, instead of littering it with the birds nests of spent tackle, plastic bait bags, sandwich wrappers and plastic bottles half full of drink, not to mention the used hooks, still with line attached, and very often still with bits of bait on them, just waiting for a bird to come and swallow, only to then die a painful and needless death.
On a more positive note, I talk of treasures that get turned up, as in my experience this really has been the case. The coast line around me is changing so rapidly, with wind and sea erosion, that in some places, old dump spoil heaps, that the Victorians used to use, are slipping into the sea. The tide then washes through the debris, depositing its less perishable items willy nilly around the coast line. One summer my partner and i were poking around the coast, in our usual fashion, looking in and out of the rock pools for sea life to observe, and hey presto! Nestled between the pebbles on the bottom of a rock pool, was a wedding ring staring back at me, it was hard to believe my eyes at first, as we were on a part of the coast that not many people get to, but after negotiating several steep and crumbling gullies to get there we found 'treasure!' Would you believe on a return visit to the same spot about a week later, we were running our fingers through the sand at the base of a big boulder, and I uncovered an engagement ring. We couldn't believe our luck, we have no idea if the rings belonged to the same person, but they certainly came from around the same period, judging from the wear of them both. On further investigation of the spot, we discovered that an old dump used to be on the cliff top, although it was non existent now. In the picture above, you can see a pile of some of the coins I have found with my metal detector, most are modern day, a nearly whole clay pipe, an old Victorian gold and agate broach, a human tooth, a cowrie shell, a small glass bottle, a lump of metal that may well be gold, an old pin that is definitely gold, the two previously mentioned gold rings, a silver sixpence, porcelain dolls jug, glass bottle stoppers, silver spoon, and old bone toothbrush handle, marked Crangs of Ilfracombe, and last but not least, an old marble, that was probably once a stopper for a bottle.
Gold coins have been found on our coast as well by metal detectors on some of the beaches, Spanish doubloon's I believe them to be. Local tales report, a few have made their fortune from the finds they have had. I remember the time that I first heard of people and their finds, you would see masses of them scouring the waters edge, eagerly sweeping back and forth with their high pitched beeping sticks. I myself, have never been as lucky as to find a doubloon, however I have turned up many a coin, and the odd silver spoon after a night of beach revelry around here, not to mention the millions of buried bear cans and their tabs, foil beach barbecue containers and grills, and the worst of all, spent batteries that some people see fit to leave languishing in our sands. I often wonder if we knew what lay directly beneath us on our beaches, if we would really want to be there at all. We can only hope that eventually people will become aware of the impact that they can leave on such an environment, with these hidden chemical delights.
One of my favourite things to find on the beach, is the little lumps of glass that have been polished by the constant washing of the water and bits of old pottery, with lots of old designs on them. Again we have the Victorian dumps on the cliff edges to thank for most of this, and the beach revelers for the rest, its easy to tell the difference between the old glass and the new just by the feel and colour of it, when I have collected enough bits, I usually arrange them into some sort of mural or glass picture, and they are great for inlaying into things. Its quite amazing the amount of different shades and variety of rounded shapes that you get.
I used to be quite content to sit on the beach, just taking in my surroundings, but became more adventurous, as more and more people seemed to be filling my favourite spot, the screams of the children and holiday makers enjoying the cold water splashing over them, becoming louder and louder, each time i would visit. Determined not to loose my enjoyment of being almost alone and just listening to the sounds of the waves and environment around me. I started to explore my coast line more, and found that with a little planning, I could reach areas of the coast line, that hardly anyone would be on. My footsteps would very often be the only ones in the sand, the only sounds to be heard would be the sea birds and shoreline swishing and swashing back and forth. The thing that struck me most about these expeditions, was how untouched the rock pools are, and the different variety of life that you can find, from corals and sponges to star fish and giant prawns, things that just wouldn't survive in the rock pools, that are regularly raped of their content, on a daily, if not hourly basis, on the main beaches. It was like finding my very own, sea water aquarium, and each pool would have something new to offer. In some places, you can still see the remains of old shipwrecks, jutting out of the sands and jammed between rocky crevices, some wooden and some steel. The sea makes light work of steel ones though, and eats it away with such a ferocious appetite, that nothing remains the same shape for long.
If you find yourself in North Devon at any time, i would strongly urge you to check out the coast line and experience all it has to offer, from the sandy beaches at Woolacombe to the rocky crags and boulder beaches at Lynton and Lynmouth.
Wall Art Metal wall and Floor Standing Sculptures
A link for tourist information in Ilfracombe North Devon
- North Devon Theatres
A link for The Landmark Theatre Ilfracombe and The Queens Theatre Barnstaple
- Tide Times
Tide Times for Ilfracombe and surrounding areas
- Lynton and Lynmouth
Lyntown and Lynmouth Tourist Information
- Atlantic Gallery
An Art Gallery in Woolacombe
- North Devon Arts
North Devon Arts a Collective of Like Minded People
- Affordable Metal Sculptures
Affordable collectable and original signed metal wall sculpture for indoors.
Below are some pictures of my wall art. More can be seen on my website if you click the ArtsApart link above.
In and around North Devon, there are lots of galleries, and artist workshops to visit and we boast one or two famous artists in the area, Damien Hirst being one, opened a restaurant with a partner called 11 The Quay on the seafront of Ilfracombe, only a few years ago.