Michael Crocker

The Sea in Me

The Haunted Shoreline

It is said that once a person has lived near the sea, it is difficult to live elsewhere; that if we move inland there remains a hidden draw to the shoreline. For me, the openness and natural light gives a sense of space and freedom, far removed from the containment I feel living within the city. The notion of “salt in the blood” sits easily with me having spent so much of my life near the coast.

This draw is inevitably linked to memories and attachments derived from my past. Memories represent flags in the mind that have signposted certain events that I am able to look back on. The attachment I feel is drawn from the praxis of nostalgia, which is in turn drawn from my own recollections and experiences.

Not all recollections are comfortable to revisit. Confronting those rose-tinted memories can be an overwhelming experience; to paraphrase Casey, there is a burden to memory that I could potentially unpack.

Memories can harbour powerful emotions for humans and some memories can be a burden to us. The power to recollect is a huge responsibility and some memories can be crushing.

Edward S. Casey, Remembering: A Phenomenological Study (1987/2000)

This body of work has seen me revisiting and re-engaging with the places of my past, where those memories are sited. In making The Sea in Me I have travelled across the south west of England to photograph the sea and its hinterlands. Through these visits - to Portishead, Dawlish Warren, Teignmouth and most prominently Falmouth - I have confronted deep-seated emotions ranging from nostalgia to regret. Returning to these places that I have at times called home, I set about recording my thoughts and responses, both in writing and through photographs, once again emplacing myself in those native environments.

Memories are unique to the individual, kept internally for our own personal consumption. They are solitary, private, ineffable.

In much the same way as memories are lastingly tied to the person, the photographic images I have produced are enduringly linked to the locality where they were created. Seawater recovered from the coastal areas I visited has been integrated into the development process of each negative. The resulting salt marks visible on each of the images embodies the individual and unique memories sited there, forming an agency that mirrors my own relationship between place, space and memory.


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