Culture

‘Sinking and Melting’

By Bernie Bell

It started when The Orkney News published an article about an exhibition https://theorkneynews.scot/2020/12/02/exhibition-seeks-objects-from-areas-under-threat-of-coastal-erosion/, which prompted me to tell a tale, and send a couple of links, and a picture, to the folk organizing the exhibition.

Here’s what I sent to them……

“Mike (my husband) and I were walking at Newark Bay, in Orkney, where archaeologists and volunteers were trying to hold back the sea from a ‘site’ which is being eaten away.

As we walked along, I picked up a plastic baby doll’s arm from the tide-line, and put it in my pocket. After we’d been to see the work in progress, we met a couple of young archaeologists in the car park. I said to the lass – “We found a baby’s arm on the beach” and reached into my pocket. Her face!

I then got out the plastic baby’s arm.

You’ll see the point behind all this, if you read this……..

I’m afraid I’d rather not send you the baby’s arm, as I’ve incorporated it in something in our garden…..

The fate of the sit-ootery in this piece, also relates to your theme….

Mike and I are inveterate beachcombers, and Orkney is a good place for it.  We bring things home because we like them, and so, don’t particularly want to part with them!

All the best for your exhibition.”

And now, I’ll get to the point……..in return, we received info and a form to accompany potential contributions, had a look at the Archive, and the things which are already part of the exhibition – including sea glass – a lot of that on the Orkney beaches. 

And something occurred to me – Mike is a Marine Biologist, working at ICIT in Stromness.  When he finds  tags from lobster or fish traps, he brings them home, just out  of interest, but isn’t as attached to them as we are to the more unusual finds.

Mostly, these tags are from the Canadian East Coast. They were mostly found on the Bay of Hinderayre, near where we live, and though not directly connected to erosion, they do connect with the idea of the sea depositing, as well as eroding. In fact, the bank at the top of the beach is eroding – each year, after the autumn/winter storms, big bites go missing from the rocks which are protecting it.

He parcelled up the tags with accompanying photos of where they were found, and the ‘paperwork’ – posted them off, and we waited to see what would happen.

And here it is…..

https://sinkingandmelting.tumblr.com/

….our Orkney contribution to what looks like being an intriguing and illuminating archive.

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