Sunday, May 25, 2014
Falling into the Sea
Amy Sharrocks is an artist and film maker. I had never heard of her before last week: now I am a fan. I had a phone call from a friend, "Would you like to fall fully clothed into the sea as part of an art project?" Yes, that seemed like a good idea on a sunny day. I hurried down to the rendezvous location. The random group who had volunteered for this quirky baptism were already mostly gathered. Together we went down to the beach and walked into the sea holding hands. But this is Wales: disorganization is an essential part of our function. The line refused to be straight but wriggled like a sidewinder snake towards the surf.
The phrase 'thin red line' comes from an incident in the Crimean War, when the 93rd Highland Regiment held back the Russian cavalry at the Battle of Balaklava. The line of scarlet jacketed soldiers refused to break or bend. In truth it was two men deep. Our own line wasn't at all like that; the taste of fear was considerably less, but it was indisputably there. I am a weak swimmer and for this project we were all required to fall into the sea. Not jump or dive, but do a flat-as-an-ironing-board collapse in the style of the silent slapstick comedians.
But I am a climber, so falling is something I try my hardest to avoid and something I regard with dread. I can't abandon control in this regard so easily. It's too catastrophic a concept. There are, of course, less literal and more desirable ways we can fall: we speak of falling in love, for instance, with the implication that there is no choice available in the matter. It's a curious fact that most of the great peaks of the world were first climbed by mountaineers who had recently come painfully out of relationships. Having fallen in love and landed with a big emotional splat they now had learned successfully not to fall again.
(All photos courtesy of Swansea Museum)
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