Silica




I grew up living beside the sea. Many of my childhood memories have the beach as a background and I used to love playing in the sand dunes at Murlough nature reserve in County Down, Northern Ireland. Walking on the shore I could easily get lost in the linear patterns on the tide coupled with those on the beach. The almost tessellated rhythmic memories of the water left after the waves receded and how the patterns seemed to become part of a bigger pattern when looking from a distance, always fascinated me.

Looking at sand has become somewhat of an obsession since moving to Dubai: its configurations are almost too innumerable to describe, on all sides an arid landscape surrounds and captivates me. Here there are so many beautiful beaches and I visit several of them regularly, but when I want to see and feel real astonishment I go to the desert. The arresting landscape of incredible sheer rises and extreme drops, creating unimaginably beautiful shadows of the majestic and impeccably sculpted sand dunes awe with their imposing yet mesmerizing meditative calm. They always appear so perfect, not a single grain out of place.

The intricacy of the random yet recurrent linear pattern on the surface of the dunes has a strangely familiar quality that is a synthesis of complexity and simplicity indivisible. Like a frozen wave the rippled surface echoes timelessly, its no wonder in Emirati Arabic there are more than 75 words for sand. Staring at these patterns I often see relationships between them, like murmurating birds they move and merge with each singular cell vital to the whole.

‘Reaction diffusion’ is a scientific theory explaining this and many similar phenomena. It is the way energy is diffused in systems in nature and it is the reason this type of texture appears in various ways over and over in our human experience. Once you recognize it, you begin to see it everywhere: on the landscape, in the oceans, on plants and animals, on our skin and in our bodies. The tip of the human finger is where this is most clear: it bears an almost exact similar textural surface to that of the dunes.

I cannot help but think that these thoughts, focusing on the substance of the essential material of the world is perhaps some type of benign infection specifically to do with being a ceramist;


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