Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Flat lands and high waters

60 years ago on the eve of January 31st and morning hours of 1st February severe weather conditions and the high Spring tide caused a storm surge. Water level exceeded 5.6 metres (18.4 ft) above mean sea level in some locations. The flood and waves overwhelmed sea defences and caused extensive flooding The Netherlands, particularly Zeeland. recorded 1,836 deaths. In Eastern England, 307 people were killed with my native Norfolk heavily effected. Lets remember them.We should always remember the great power of the world around us and how relatively insignificant we are on the scale of things. I constantly return to the echoes of my landscape and seek the connections and resonance to those I visit. 

Zeeland Stitch sketches
Happisburg, Norfolk..gradually falling in the Sea
Groyne or otherwise know as breakwater posts.

Sketches of Norfolk Reeds

Waterland  by Graham Swift describes this landscape

We lived in a lock-keeper's cottage by the River Leem, which flows out of Norfolk into the Great Ouse. And no one needs telling that the land in that part of the worid is flat. Flat, with an unrelieved and monotonous flatness, enough of itself, some might say, to drive a man to unquiet and sleep-defeating thoughts. From the raised banks of the Leem, it stretched away to the horizon, its uniform colour, peat-black, varied only by the crops that grew upon it - grey-green potato leaves, blue-green beet leaves, yellow-green wheat; its uniform levelness broken only by the furrowed and dead-straight lines of ditches and drains, which, depending on the state of the sky and the angle of the sun, ran like silver, copper or golden wires across the fields and which, when you stood and looked at them, made you shut one eye and fall prey to fruitless meditations on the laws of perspective.
And yet this land, so regular, so prostrate, so tamed and cultivated, would transform itself, in my five- or six-year-old mind, into an empty wilderness. On those nights when my mother would be forced to tell me stories, it would seem that in our lock-keeper's cottage we were in the middle of nowhere; and the noise of the trains passing on the lines to King's Lynn, Gildsey and Ely was like the baying of a monster closing in on us in our isolation.
A fairy-tale land, after all.


  1. I think this is happens 60 years ago in my country :-)

  2. hi Laura

    Had a 'senior' moment..of course it was in both countries..thank you.

  3. It also had repurcussions to the countryside of Aberdeenshire where thousand of trees were lost, you can still see the stumps to day...a good reason to get out and take some photos now the snow is clearing!

  4. Yes the power of nature is immensely, we should never forget.
    I rather look at your beautiful work and sketches................

  5. I vividly remember that day - still at school and no TV then so heard it on the radio. Love your Zeeland Sketch images, ethereal and takes me back to the time of childhood.

  6. Yes, it was horrific. I've been following some programmes on the Dutch TV, interviews with people who witnessed it. People in that part of the Netherlands have always struggled against the power of the water. Because of the impressive Delta works things have changed for them. But I love Zeeland, the wind, the water and the openness.

  7. I am old enough to remember this - just. I grew up on the edge of the Fens and the unrelieved and monotonous flatness mentioned above is part of my DNA - very beautiful in its own way with those glorious wide skies - but life on the edge, nonetheless.