A boarded walk on a lattice of stilts, floating between sky, sea and sand, the basic pier structure offers a launching pad for millions of dreamy thoughts and suspends us in an airy, fluid, liminal zone. This deeply satisfying and refreshing pursuit of standing on the edge of land and directing contemplation out into the offing, offers free time to clear the mind - a kind of sublime. The dilation of time and elapsed measurement in these conditions is unique. No longer governed by the second-hand of a clock, our quantification and schedule is instead directed by the colour of the sea and sky, our geological position, and the orientation of the sun. Our spatial reality is challenged by the seascape. A surrealist example is the 1931 oil painting ‘The Persistence of Memory’ by the artist Salvador Dalì. Located in the coastal condition with rocky outcrop, hard and soft invert, time bends, and clocks melt in a recognisable and widely referenced motif, which Dalì referred to as the “camembert of time and space”.7
The offing is not the horizon. Here the line where the earth’s surface and sky appear to meet is more precise and delineated. The presence and characteristics of uncertain and immeasurable qualities blur the boundary of place, space, and landscape; this is what makes the ocean waves so encapsulating and unpredictable. We can be sure that we join millions of other journeys that begin here drifting out to sea, memorised on some promontory, looking out into the marine landscape. The Japanese photographer and architect Hiroshi Sugimoto explains “Every time I view the sea, I feel a calming sense of security, as if visiting my ancestral home; I embark on a voyage of seeing.”8 Sugimoto’s black and white seascape photography documents the experience of such complex thoughts which “simultaneously capture a discrete moment in time but also evoke a feeling of timelessness”.9
The sea is an important organic object in view, often it is calm but sometime it can be fierce and unpredictable. It must be a basic impulse to get to the edge of land and then imagine beyond. As Edmund Burke wrote in his Philosophical Enquiry, 1757 “...when we cannot see distinctly, we know no bounds.”10 Just as we have innate explorer and survivor instincts to find other places, it is also compelling to gaze at fractal patterns and nature’s rhythms at some edge of land and sea. This phenomenon is not a romanticised condition, neither is it idealised; the precondition certainly is not commercial nor should it be exploited, damaged, or incommodious for people to engage, enjoy, and find comfort in our unique coastal landscapes. The sea is ours to care for, as custodians of the planet we must seek to protect, examine, and question these conditions further. Celebrating our connection with water, respecting its power, understanding the way it influences us and finding ingenuity in the offing are all important and essential.