“Can you spare any change please?”

“Can you spare any change please? – a ‘curation’ / ‘construct’ with ‘ready mades’ and found objects.

This little curation ‘took shape’ recently while I was playing around in my studio with some ‘ready made’ figurines and pieces of textured board. Most of the time I have no idea where my collages or curations stem from – they are simply products of my subconscious. But in this case I have more of a clue.

Towards the end of last year we found ourselves at a number of different locations on the British coast – in Norfolk, Suffolk, Kent and Sussex. I’m quite fond of the seaside out of season but even on a bright day there is something slightly melancholic about a deserted beach.

Coastal towns never look their best on the cold dull days of winter, and despite brave efforts to bring about regeneration and a degree of gentrification, many coastal resorts – formerly places of architecture grandeur, great style and popularity in their heyday – often feel a little down at heel, with deserted amusement arcades, empty shops and evidence of rough sleepers in doorways.

Strolling along ‘the prom’, the scene is also bleak; stretches of sand or shingle – where over the years generations of children have paddled, built sandcastles, eaten candy floss and dreamed of seeing imaginary sea-creatures – remain, for the most part, empty, windswept and grey.

On my mind recently have also been local news reports of boats carrying illegal immigrants to these shores – their passengers having made costly and hazardous channel crossings only to face the most uncertain of futures. Add to this the difficulties of seasonal employment, zero hours contracts for local workers plus the looming spectre of Brexit and you can’t help but feel we are ‘all at sea’.

So here is my surreal little beach scene in which a tiny Victorian school boy is taken somewhat by surprise to encounter a giant mermaid begging at the water’s edge.

Big Issue anyone?

P. S. Coincidentally I found both ‘ready-mades’ beside the seaside; the Parian ware figure of the boy is from an antique shop in Hastings and the porcelain mermaid from a gift-shop in Southwold. So both are genuine coastal ‘residents’. The textured boards used here as ‘background’ were ‘foraged’ within yards of the shoreline here in Kent. Strange how things work out sometimes isn’t it?!