The Sentinel

The Sentinel

Summer is over, but still they flock here, to see the sun and the waves’ inexorable work on the ragged cliffs and the seagulls surfing on the bluster. There’s something here which draws me, as it draws them. A surreal landscape, rocks pitted and from sun and salt, grass growing in the most unlikely of circumstances.

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Yes, the heady days of summer, of blinding beaches and the smell of sunscreen and shimmering air are over. But it is this post-summer light which enchants me. [pireze]TheSentinel_02

A transient light, fluxing with the seasons, living and dying by the minutes, cast on unyielding rock and hardy grass. It is a light which opens my eyes anew to the possibility of line and space and shape. The hard shadows of an unfiltered sun, the bane of portraiture, become dividers, leading lines and curves.

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As I step onto the island, it is a strange, contained place, both full of history and expectation. It is a place of portals and windows and frames, and I have a new way of seeing: one based not on totality but on the interrupted abstraction being greater than the whole. On not showing, but evoking.

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This is a place where stairs lead to the sky, where the green of the fields join the blue and the grey. It is a place abound with hard materials and soft curves.

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I am in love with the light, the way it shines in through the tunnel-like openings, promising new discoveries if only I would just step around the corner, into sun-drenched courtyards, the sound of waves and of breeze in the grass sisters to the quietude.

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It is strange that a place built on the paranoia of men, and with such a distinctively war-like purpose, should now, in its retirement, evoke such a serene solitude in me.

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What is seen and what is photographed are two different things. Often, I have been inexplicably drawn to a scene, only to come away with an pale counterfeit, an image which failed to capture that which attracted me in the first place. That, I suspect, is our Grail, and not one which is easily obtained.

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But slowly, eventually, I have been able to single out the essence, the trigger which made me grip my camera just that tiny bit tighter, which prompted my finger to seek out the shutter release button. I see the lines, the contrast, the shapes within the scene which pose an almost-infantile attraction in me.

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In many ways, my love for this art is at risk from the cacophony of everyday life and my inner self. That very being which drives me ever forward in improving my work can at the same time be the most destructive of forces. From complications and comparisons, to sentiments that threaten to reduce my passion to yet another rat race.

It may not be the most sacred of arts, but it is an imperative for me to find the voice for my vision.

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Revisiting this place has given me an anchor. It has reminded me of that which is most important, reinforced that implacable calm within me.

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This is the meeting point of rock and sea and sky, a testament to the beauty of that which survives. Consciously or unconsciously, those who visit know this to be true.

And these things will remain after today. Even though generations of children may fade, as quickly as the shouts of exuberance and desperation are drowned and torn asunder by the roaring waves below, this place will always be there for the solitary wanderer.

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