St Barbe Museum and Gallery, New Street, , Lymington, , Hampshire, , SO41 9BH
Like all good residencies, my trip to Lymington was a transformative experience. I spent most of the week working on the Lymington and Keyhaven Marshes Nature Reserve – with thanks to Reserve Manager Pete Durnell. It is an edgeland site - reclaimed land remodelled into a network of saline lagoons and marshes. The reserve is heavily used by cyclists, walkers, dog owners, runners, kids accessing the beaches, and birdwatchers. It is also bubbling over with other life – my diary on day two documents my encounters with ‘a stunning and overwhelming list of birds’! I soon realised this was not going to be a week for focusing on certain key species, but instead I wanted to convey something of the richness and diversity of life here. In the work you will find evidence of: dynamic weather moving through; the flightpath of starlings; a cyclist crunching along the sea wall; black-headed gulls overhead; bunched sailing masts breaking the horizon; full-throated skylark and cuckoo calls. I developed a deeper appreciation for the plant and insect life of this distinctive coastline – with plenty of help from my close-focus binoculars and the fantastic Seek App on my phone. I found I returned again and again to structures of water - the lagoons at Lymington Nature Reserve and the shoreline marshes at Needs Ore. I was inspired and intrigued by the way the shapes of water reflected the life around them. I kept company with cuckoos which had recently arrived from Africa, calling frantically everywhere I chose to draw. I was astonished and inspired to see the abundance of life on this small patch of land.