So Many Summers

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Kirsty Hall: Decaying Boats, Polbain Beach, June 2010

While I was on holiday, I made a point of heading over to Polbain Beach to take some photos. We used to beach-comb here as kids and it’s still a lovely spot. I ate my ice-lolly looking out over the Summer Isles while nearby a man sat on a deckchair outside his camper-van and played his fiddle. It was an absolutely iconic West Highland moment.

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Kirsty Hall: Decaying Boats, Polbain Beach, June 2010

The wonderful decaying boats reminded me of this poem by Norman MacCaig.

So Many Summers

Beside one loch, a hind’s neat skeleton
Beside another, a boat pulled high and dry:
Two neat geometries drawn in the weather:
Two things already dead and still to die.

I passed them every summer, rod in hand,
Skirting the bright blue or the spitting gray,
And, every summer, saw how the bleached timbers
Gaped wider and the neat ribs fell away.

Time adds one malice to another one –
Now you’d look very close before you knew
If it’s the boat that ran, the hind went sailing.
So many summers, and I have lived them too.

Norman MacCaig

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Kirsty Hall: Decaying Boats, Polbain Beach, June 2010

Talking about it afterwards, I was amazed to discover that my mum had taught in the same school as Norman MacCaig when she was starting out in her teaching career. A canny reminder that many successful creative people have day jobs their entire life.

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Kirsty Hall: Decaying Boats, Polbain Beach, June 2010

I knew I had been longing for the West Highlands for years but it was only when I was sitting on this beach, that I felt how much my soul needs this very special place.

Do you need to fill up your creative well? Do you have somewhere special that eases your soul? Tell me about it in comments.

I am an artist & purveyor of obsessive projects based in Hebden Bridge, England. My work involves the accretion of large numbers of small objects - pins in fabric, knots in string or hundreds of envelopes - to make sculptures that deal with fragility, loss, repetition, obsession and time.

16 thoughts on “So Many Summers

  1. Do you have somewhere special that eases your soul?

    YES! The mountains behind my home. I have to hike there every weekend to nourish my soul, otherwise i'm just out of sorts during the week.


  2. What gorgeous photos, Kirsty and what a wonderful place.

    Myself, I always, always gravitate back to the Isle of Wight, where I was born. It is so tantilisingly close, just across the water from where I live now, but is a world away in the way it calms and inspires me each time.


  3. I often find the need to flee the confines of my apartment to find solace and solitude. I only moved to Vancouver a year ago, and there are few places where one can truly find peace, but I have often escaped to the deep forest paths of Stanley Park, or the less-traveled beaches of the same to find myself again. I am forever drawn to deep forest paths near the ocean, and rocky beaches. If I had my way I would magically transport myself to the cliff-path in the park on Galiano Island, looking out over Active Pass. That stark and completely people-free sheer dirt path, and the time-lost rock beach below are, to me, the closest thing to paradise.


  4. These images are quite soothing…Makes one wonder about those old boats- where they've been, their age, what adventures they saw, if they could talk….
    While I lived in the Caribbean, my escape place on our island was anywhere along Ridge Road, THE main hilltop passageway. I had a few spots w/ amazing views of the sea and islands.
    Now my place to seek solace while in transition and staying with family is the lovely gated cemetery down the road. I walk there. It's so peaceful and beautiful- not a depressing place at all. Ordinarily, I find cemeteries inspiring. This one does that for me. Because I have no loved ones buried there, there's no sadness attached to my visits.


  5. That sounds lovely, Amber. I've always loved rocky beaches too because I was a rock hound as a kid and always on the lookout for fossils, gemstones or other interesting rocks.


  6. I've never been to the Isle of Wight, Ingrid but it sounds like an interesting place. I've always fancied visiting places like the Channel Isles – from what I understand they're very different from the islands up north.


  7. Beautiful photos, Kirsty. I can see how this place would feed your soul! So happy you were able to spend time there.
    Mountains and streams consistently fill my creative well. I've been away from them for a while. Funny how we can lose touch with those kinds of places even when we know how beneficial they are.


  8. I googled-mapped your vacation spot when you posted it. Virtually walked around the area via google maps. wonderful! I was so envious! I know you must have had a great time. Thank you for sharing! Kim


    Kirsty Reply:

    What an interesting idea, Kimberly, I’d never thought of doing that.


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