We first came across the phenomenon of river and sea spheres over 20 years ago via Nan Shepherd’s perfect prose in ‘The Living Mountain’. She described how water currents turn and weave loose material into perfect spheres so intertwined ‘they can be lifted out of the water and kept for years, a botanical puzzle to those who have not been told the secret of their formation’. Nan’s description was captivating and fired our curiosity. For years we would scan local beaches and river edges wishing we too could pluck this enigmatic object from its watery manoeuvres, but alas, to no avail.
In January 2020 our local beach estuary was ravaged by two named storms in quick succession. During the storms, forests upriver were pummelled by the ferocious winds and pine needles and field stubble was whisked away and funnelled into low-lying river profiles. This debris was carried downstream for miles then out to sea where it was kneaded by the violent winds and pounding waves along with beach detritus into a felted fibrous material. When calm was finally restored, we were thrilled to find that the unusual high tide of the previous night had left behind some perfect sea spheres abandoned at the high-water margin.
CONFLUENCE consists of a glass bell jar containing a Sea Sphere and an accompanying text about the origins of the work. A limited edition of the work can be obtained here.