Treasures at the seashore
A Japanese oyster shell at the Wadden Sea
Summer holidays are over, but one of the things I love to do during those days is walking along the beach for hours on end.
Searching for treasures at the seashore.
In Denmark, where I was, you know you’ll be looking for fossils and amber. Sometimes you will find some sea glass also, an excellent product coming from both nature and man.
I do not know precisely what it is that attracts me to this activity.
It must have something to do with nature revealing its secrets. There is this sense of wonder when you find things that have been there for many years. Items that are suddenly uncovered by the movements of the sea or washed ashore. Like fossils teaching us about the past.
But what is true for many beachcombers applies to me as well. Searching the beaches makes you calm and peaceful. It refers to our childhood where time didn’t seem to exist, and the beach was just one big adventure.
I guess this is something many people can relate to.
Beachcombing once started of sheer poverty.
Inhabitants of fishing communities looked for things that they could use or sell.
Today it is pure luxury. It is not so much about the things themselves but about the experience of finding them.
Although I do love the growing collection, I have at home. It consists of all kinds of things like shells, fossils, bones, sea glass, amber, and many different stones.
Even while I am working, I collect all sorts of things.
For instance, when I am at the Wadden Sea making pictures. I always seem to carry a lot of stuff home with me from this kind of getaways.
I often have no idea why I take these things with me, and then moments later, they suddenly appear in one of my images.
As you can see in the picture accompanying this article, the image comes from my ongoing series in which I visualise the Wadden Sea coast.
The foreground shows a Japanese oyster shell.
These were introduced in the Netherlands in 1963 because the native species decimated, and today, you can find many of them. They are seen as an annoyance by some but by others as an essential contribution to the ecosystem since oyster reefs provide a habitat for many other lifeforms such as crabs, seaweeds and mussels.
To me, the odd-shaped and ornamental shells are just beautiful and a desirable treasure to collect.
Whenever I find them, I always take them home with me.
To just put one in my bag on another day when I go out shooting.
Like when I found this small puddle in one of the salt marshes along the Wadden Sea coast. I wanted to make a long exposure there and walked around with the idea for a few weeks. But something was missing until I took an oyster shell to put in the foreground of the picture.
It is not the first time that I am doing something like this.
If you look at my portfolio, you will find some more related images.
These found objects deal with impermanence and the passage of time. To me, those are the issues that I like to show in my pictures. Always in connection with the landscape.
Just look at the picture and imagine the oyster shell wouldn’t be there.
Wouldn’t it be less interesting? To me, it would.
And the landscape itself? I don’t know, but when I came back to collect my pinhole camera after 48 hours, I left the oyster shell there. Right at the same spot. Again in a place where it doesn’t belong for someone else to find and wonder about this seashore treasure.
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