“Landscape is what we make of it”.
We absorb the landscape through its sights, its sounds and our senses. We observe its present and glimpse its past. But we construct it from the thoughts and emotions we bring.
The Humber Estuary is rich with places to go to: to think, to draw, to remember. The broadening skies, the relentless shifting and eroding tides, the industry of ships, of docks, of power generation, all watched by vibrant wildlife.
But this is just a start. All is riddled with marks and memories of its past: the concrete gun emplacements falling into the sea; forts rusting in the estuary, the memorabilia of a whaling industry. Then there is personal history: my mother, born and raised in Cleethorpes, catching the ferry to Hull; and great uncle, Captain Ernest Fall, with a naval history going back to the Battle of Jutland.
This makes me think how places change in mood and spirit as times change and eras pass. Beauty becomes threat. Turmoil becomes tranquillity. The stillness and cries of curlew are interrupted by bombing raids. The North Sea winds turn to drive an offshore army. The rhythmic tide becomes a tidal surge.
All this becomes a reason to search for the landscape of the Humber Estuary.
But there is something else. I saw the sun setting over the Estuary. It turned the landscape into an inferno. I thought of other histories being acted out on the horizon: the sacking of Troy, the destruction of Palmyra. I don’t know why, I just did.