Sea lavender is one of the dominant plant species of saltmarshes in Norfolk, England. Its beautiful mauve flowers are the defining image of a saltmarsh in summer. The artist’s choice of sea urchin spikes is resonant with the lavender’s synonymous colour, along with a soft green, while the tusk shells remind us of the palest grey skies so familiar for that part of the world.
Blott Kerr-Wilson is a skilful master of her chosen material, shells. Unlike traditional shellwork she limits the species she works with to explore their graphic potential en masse but with the result that her work beyond mere visual impact to emanate an atmosphere with which we connect at the deepest level.
Like all salt marsh plants sea lavender has to deal with daily incursions of salt water into its habitat and this resonates in this shellwork. Also found in the artist’s piece ‘Changing Tide’ , there is a sense of something (the salt tidal water perhaps) either engulfing or revealing the central area, our mind set may read it one way or another. What is fascinating is the way the contradiction between the shell species also creates a sense of shift or displacement which, rather unexpectedly, feels soothing. The modern world in which we live requires us to be in command of so many things, so that when we are not we can all too easily feel out of control. However variation, displacement, rearrangement are the natural order of things in nature, the changing tide among them. No surprise then that for many proximity to the sea is deeply restorative. The sea itself is ever changing and shifting and when we give ourselves over to the rhythm of the tides, we are transformed in the process, allowing ourselves to connect with the cadences of nature.
Consequently what at first appears an abstract work of multimedia from a distance becomes more and more intriguing as you approach. The colours, textures and choice of shells as medium drawing you in to the appreciate grand scale and minute detail of nature.