Seaspell, Sally Bridgnell
'I lived the formative years of my childhood in Newquay, but when I was 14 my parents and I moved away from Cornwall and went abroad, disposing of literally all our possessions. I actually still feel a sense of loss when I think of all the books, toys and knick-knacks that I vaguely remember, and I don’t know what happened to them. The disposal wasn’t forced on me, as such, but it was necessary as we didn’t put anything into storage. So I have nothing tangible from my childhood at all, just memories.
My love of the sea dates from those early years: an ongoing fascination and connection fostered by an idyllic seaside childhood. Hence a deep-seated yearning when, for some 30 years, I was living inland, where I suppose I felt its absence quite acutely. Of necessity, I buried these feelings, as I knew that there was no point in wishing for what I couldn’t have. But when occasionally I took my children on a daytrip to the beach, it was almost a physical thing to feel the attachment reawaken: a flood of emotion, nostalgia and also comfort and even elation.
As a child I used to lie on top of the harbour wall and just watch the sea swishing below. If I wasn’t in it, swimming, I was on it, sailing, and if I wasn’t sailing I was above it, watching. Now, living again with the sea on my doorstep, my greatest pleasure and mental balm is a paddling summer stroll through the length of the low-tide shallows, the surf in my ears and the sand underfoot.
Deeply satisfying also has been the way that an old love has married with a new one. Having loathed art in school, I didn’t start painting till 2001. Rediscovering it anew, what else should I paint but the sea?'