Sophie Twining is a printmaker, inspired by the ocean and seascape of the British Isles. Read Sophie's following contribution to 'Stories within Our Isles', where she describes her deep connection to the ocean through her project 'Blue Mind'.
I am inspired by the ocean; its sounds and smells, the feelings it evokes in me, the memories it brings to the surface. It influences me psychologically and creatively. Through this project, I describe my connection to the ocean. I have drawn on past and contemporary poets, authors, scientists and fellow ocean lovers to support my imagery. Their language conceptualises my relationship with the ocean when I have struggled to form such deep feelings into words. These prints represent the emotions I bring with me to the sea; anxiety, confusion, stress and loneliness, and the ones I take away. They depict stillness and chaos, light and dark.
Exploring with my camera in my hands is one of my greatest joys. On each visit to a coastal environment (Falmouth, Swanpool, Godrevy and Penrose to name a few) I pause for a few moments, removing the viewfinder from my eye and placing my camera down, to connect to how I feel in the moment. I take time to rest; enchanted by the movement of the water being ruffled by the wind or current; spellbound as I listen to the rhythmic sounds of the waves breaking on the beach.
Moments spent with the ocean provide time to reflect on my present and divert my mind away from responsibility and consequence. I find myself re-evaluating my problems- how can they compare with the ocean and all of the life it holds? There is no more healing sensation than floating, hair submerged, and limbs outstretched, on the water’s surface, relishing in the luxury of a brief escape. Looking out at the seeming infinity of blue, with its expansive breadth and sense of limitlessness, it is no wonder a feeling of freedom washes over me.
I have always had an affinity with the ocean. I remember regularly adventuring out in our little dinghy with family and friends, anchoring to snorkel and picnic until the sandbank became submerged by the tide. Each time I return to my childhood home we make sure to go out on the water. We often venture from Portsmouth, through Langstone, and along to Emsworth, parking the boat in the little harbour and climbing up and over a brick wall into the pub garden. I also remember sailing with my mum in all weathers and conditions.
We would spot seals (if we were lucky, they sometimes came right up to our little blue boat) and dangle our limbs in the freezing water. On holidays, I would spend as much time in the ocean as possible. I found it addictive and my parents would repeatedly have to force me back onto dry land. The ocean, the open water, has never seemed scary to me. It has always been my greatest comfort. As a child I delighted in water; it was a source of play and exploration, a test of courage and a treasured reward. As I have grown older, all of those things remain. However, as the world becomes more rapid and stressful, as it often does for those entering adulthood, what the ocean offers me has expanded into something more personal.
In an age of noise, it offers a sanctuary where I can reflect, re-energise and relish in the silence; in the absence of traffic, technology and overstimulation. This magical, blue elixir provides distance, allows room for release and puts things into perspective. Sometimes, I can almost feel my anxieties dissolve in the water around me. I find moments of peace in the subtle motion of the currents, the dance of sparkling sunlight on the water’s surface or the mesmerising sound of waves lapping the shore.
The creation of Blue Mind has reminded me that our planet is an aqueous one. I am so thankful to have the beautiful Cornish coastline at my fingertips and have pledged to make more time for this free, natural source of tranquillity that can connect us to ourselves whilst simultaneously taking us out of our minds, our thoughts, and our anxieties. I am gratefully reminded of the beauty of this non-human entity; the diverse, mysterious, blue expanse that gives us so much.
Photographs & Words by Sophie Twining | @sophietwining