A rocky cleft like this is a miniature world. As a child, I loved exploring these fissures and chasms, and I don’t think I’ve lost any of my enthusiasm for them as an adult. I like to be present to the seasons. In the winter it’s useful to stay with the cold and distance. But sometimes lead skies and unending rain are too depressing – and then I dream of high summer. This painting cam out of one such winter. As the shapes emerged I could feel the wiry tufts of lichen and smell the sea. The geology of the islands has always left me cold. Perhaps one needs a better imagination than mine to visualise the fiery contortions of minerals as they are compressed and ejected. So here’s a good blog about the stones by someone who knows about them.
These rocks are very familiar to me from days in the Channel Islands. In the warm crumbling moraines there are a wealth of hues, complemented by the tuft of Sea Pink (Armeria maritima) – that I always call Thrift – and the brilliant yellow and bleached glaucous green of the lichens. Within such a rocky cleft, one can often find tiny periwinkles, improbably far from the sea. Sea slaters hide there too. The rocks get too hot to touch in the sun, that life survives at all is a mystery.