Beach profiles in paint

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Beach profiles are an indicator of the health of that part of the coast, at least in terms of its ability to withstand storm erosion.

South of Adelaide the shoreline has rocky cliffs and smaller bays, but the suburban beaches are part of a coastline that is generally straight and low-lying. The land rises gently behind Seacliff and Brighton beaches. Over the last 100 years houses and roads have been built on the sandhills and many methods have been tried to “save” the sandy beaches and protect the built-up area.

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“Good voyage” 2009
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“van-tastic” 2009
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Kingston Park hillside, 2013

These paintings show the beach at low tide seven and four years ago. The second and third works show the beach towards the south, the direction of the next two paintings. You can see the increasing cover on the high dunes over the years.

Here are the outdoor paintings of Seacliff Beach. Both have been completed within the last month. The captions tell the story!

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Beach profile before the storm
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Beach profile after the storm

In the second painting you can see the erosive storm effects. The waves cut in at the base of the dune and the sand above collapsed to form little cliff shapes. In that painting you can easily see the sand pipe which has been part of the latest replenishment program.

The cycle of northward drift of sand is endless and quite natural. The work to restore and maintain our sandy southern metropolitan beaches and protect foreshore development is an expensive ongoing project. Hopefully smaller scale local structures can be embedded to do all that at lower cost.

These two paintings will be submitted for exhibition at “Dire” to be curated by the Centre for Culture, Land and Sea. The show will be at the South Coast Regional Arts Centre, Old Goolwa Police Station from June 23rd until July 24th.

If you are in South Australia, pop down! Only an hour south of the city. See you there?


Coastal degradation – a painting project

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Coastal degradation – I don’t often paint about issues. Every now and then I make an exception.

Yesterday was the perfect morning for painting – clear and calm. The forecast was for 30 degrees. The coastline looked fine.

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School holidays and fine weather brought a few families down to the beach. One of the children was a young neighbour who had been creating stobie pole art in my studio with my guidance. But that’s a story for another post.

Earlier in April I attended a seminar for artists on coastal degradation, beach erosion and sand management systems. It was conducted by Dr Ian Dyson a Marine Geologist with strong ideas about current coastline management practices. We visited two beaches and a bakery. The beaches? A healthy one at Port Elliot, and an unhealthy one at Victor Harbor. The aim was to better inform our work for the June exhibition “Dire” organised by the Centre for Culture, Land and Sea.

Lots of information was imparted that day, but the simplest and probably most important message for me was how to read the signs of a healthy beach. And how? It is all in the berm. That low rise of sand, held by ephemeral vegetation, which lies at the foot of the dune as a buffer between the dune and the water.

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So today I ventured out to a local beach, looking in vain for the berm. The dune profile is too steep too and we are familiar with the cliff-like collapses of the dunes’ front face in winter storms.

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My plan is to venture back to Port Elliot on our south coast to capture the berm and the healthy beach profile. As a pair of paintings they will contribute to the story of our problems with the metropolitan coastline.

I have another reason to return to Port Elliot. Remember the two beaches and the BAKERY? They make the best pasties on the south coast, perhaps on the whole Fleurieu Peninsula, but I can’t say that for sure!