On a far too rare visit to California, I had the opportunity to travel down the coast to Monterey Bay, re-visiting familiar spots from my childhood including Lovers’ Point beach and Asilomar in Pacific Grove, Nepenthe on the Big Sur highway, and Carmel-by-the-Sea.
On our return north, we stopped at the Monterey Aquarium and I was stunned to find so many similar corallines in the bottom of this magical pool in the Rocky Shore exhibition. Exquisite!
Over the last few weeks I have been a regular visitor to the great stretches of basalt rock that reach out into Milsey Bay in the east of the town, and to the beach by the 3rd hole in the west, to watch the ebb of Winter flow into Spring. There are a few favourite tide pools that draw me in especially on the days of lowest tides with their beauty and intensity of light and life. This is not a collecting time of year, so I take photos, Some I have made into banners for this site, but thought I might post them here in their original forms.
Red sandstone rock pool
Opposite the Marine Hotel, in the low rocky outcrops of the Hummell Ridges, are shallow pools with pink bottoms of exquisite cerise Lithothamnion and rougy Hildenbrandia. Lining these pools are blankets of Laminaria and Fucus, their great floppy fronds forming a protective ridge at the each poolside’s edge, hiding within them a myriad of seaweeds, snails, crabs, shrimp, shells and sand. On the east side, between the Seabird Centre and the Yellow Man, are the dark milky bore holes of the Milsey Rocks.
These surprisingly deep craters are home to copses of kelps at one end, and crevices of purple corallines and magenta rhodymenia at the other, sheltering in and out of the orange sandstone ledges. Here the contrast between the red sandstone and greenstone is acute, borders merged by splashes of crustose algae, with iridescent blue Carrageenans sparkling in the first rays of Spring.
I will be exhibiting about 40 of my seaweed pressings in the John Hope Gateway Centre at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival. The show is curated by Kirsty White and runs from Sat, 5th April to 15th June 2014.
This collection reveals the extraordinary range, beauty and diversity of seaweeds that grow in the rock pools and kelp beds along the shores of East Lothian, from Gullane to Seacliff. Collected through the seasons, they show the life cycle from vibrant new growth to mature form, with the accompanying changes to pigmentation and ultimately decay as time and tide take their toll. These are real specimens (although at first glance they resemble botanical illustrations) based on an old Victorian tradition of herbarium pressing, but presented in a contemporary context. The images are striking in their simplicity and surprising by their similarity to land-based flora, taking graceful organic forms resembling trees, leaves, flowers and feathers – their exquisite abstraction of colour, shape and form questioning the division between science and art.