Shell line, Shingle Street


Shingle Street is little more than a row of cottages on a beautifully bleak stretch of the Suffolk coast just south of Orford. The beach is made up of wave after wave of shingle banks deposited by the river Alde as it sweeps round to enter the North Sea. If you catch the tide at the right moment, you can watch waves coming from opposite directions crashing headlong into one another.


I first visited on a dull, overcast autumn day with a heavy air that left everything damp. As I strode across the shingle, I came across a circle of while shells, stark against the dark pebbles. From it led a line of more shells heading into the distance.


I followed the line towards the shore. It was by no means straight but had purpose to its direction. At regular intervals, it was punctuated by more circles, some with white at the centre, others with black. It stretched for 200, maybe 300 metres before it petered out, the line becoming broken and the shells dispersed.


It was a wonderfully uplifting experience not least for its unexpected discovery. I felt privileged to have seen such a transitory artwork.


But on further investigation, it turns out it is more permanent than I thought having been there for nearly ten years. It is regularly repaired by the artists and by passers by who add their own contributions.

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