4.3 Edge 2: Wild Men

Old Man of Orford

James Dodds linocut The Old Man of Orford

Orford Castle is associated with the legend of the Wild Man of Orford. According to the chronicler Ralph of Coggeshall, a naked wild man, covered in hair, was caught in the nets of local fishermen around 1167. The man was brought back to the castle where he was held for six months, being questioned or tortured; he said nothing, and behaved in a feral fashion throughout. The wild man finally escaped from the castle. Later accounts described the captive as a merman, and the incident appears to have encouraged the growth in “wild men” carvings on local baptismal fonts – around twenty such fonts from the later medieval period exist in coastal areas of Suffolk and Norfolk, near Orford.

Orford Castle Wikipedia

4.3 Edge 4: Nets

Pixelmator images from nets

Note: the ideas for this are from the Thursday, but in terms of narrative for the work as a whole, I decided to swap this section to come after The Wild Man. As an attempt to get out of entanglement – and towards the final Kunst Macht Frei.

Thursday 15th June

Still discussing Kensington fire. See pictures in the paper.
Hot morning so stayed in. Feeling tired. Then cloudy and windy. Starts to be sunny again about 3pm.

Remembering Kovats quote:
Read Kovats drawing water.

Drawing as a mechanism for exploration. Drawing as lines of discovery.
3D under the oceans

Preface quote from Salman Rushdie on Haroun and the Sea of Stories.

He looked into the water and saw that it was made up of a thousand thousand thousand and one different currents, each one a different colour, weaving in and out of each other like a liquid tapestry of breathtaking complexity; and Iff explained that these were the Streams of Story, that each coloured strand represented and contained a single tale.

Different parts of the Ocean contained different sorts of stories, and as all the stories that had ever been told and many others that were still in the process of being invented could be found here, the Ocean of the Streams of Story was in fact the biggest library in the universe. And because the stories were held here in fluid form, they retained the ability to change, to become new versions of themselves, to join up with other stories and so become yet other stories; so that unlike a library of books, the Ocean of the Streams of Story was much more like a storeroom of yarns. It was not dead but alive.

Salman Rushdie, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, 1990.p55.

William Kentridge. That which is not drawn.

  • Provisionality. Virtues of bastardy. Receiving the world. Reversing the world.
    To reveal that which is hidden. Excess of making.
    Making 3 things at once, the cat and the coffee pot. Chaos.
    Unwinding, unfurling, contradiction.
    Changing, shifting. Erasing.
    To make a huge fiction.
  • Sighs and traces. Always longing for meaning. Mystery associated with the trace.
  • Drawer and viewer. Filling in the gaps.
  • Wanting to hold, needing to let go.
  • Slow drawing. Meditative.
  • Man is a walking clock. Gathering seconds, gleaning frames.
  • P6 “the migration of images, which is connected with what I am calling the virtues of bastardy and the question of provisionality. That is linked to questions of imperfect translation and construction. I am thinking here of a bridge or a plank over the gap of what you don’t hear or don’t understand, or of what’s not in the narrative and requires the activity of the viewer. I think it’s all part of one topic, but we have to try and find out in what ways they are related. Another concerns that which is hidden….excavating dreams and constructing their sense. And erasure as construction.”
    P71″I suppose I’m interested in the traces of what prompts a reconstruction, not just the trace nor the unreconstructed state. What prods an imaginative leap? I am making a drawing for which you see a foundation or a ground. And the interest for me is not not only the foundation or the ground but also what it suggests. From all the different possible things that could come out of it, I am interested in the end, in arriving at one, even if it’s an incorrect one. So it’s not a matter if saying, ‘Here’s a phrase, which is unclear, because there are words missing, that I haven’t heard.’ That suggests many things; it’s the leap into that suggestion, which is, in away, a leap out of indeterminacy. So indeterminacy is there at the base, but for me the interest lies in the movement into a drawing, into a sequence of movement. Indeterminacy suggests paralysis if you stay there.”
  • Photographs have only one focal point. But when we look we rapidly flip between the two.


4.3 Edge 3: Moot Histories

Tuesday 13th June

Cloudy and windy 20C

Reith lectures. The day is for the living Hillary Mantell. About history and fiction. Lots of imperfect perspective fragments and filling in the gaps.


Read Ronald Blythe and look through history photos. Storms and Slaughden.
Sorted sketchbook.

Afternoon go to museum. Old Anglo Saxon, and Roman dig.

See Museum website

Back through churchyard with Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears. and along leafy tunnel lane.

Experimented with Procreate to program on gouache, pastel and ink bleed brushes.
Went back through carnival sketches.

Feeling despondent – not enough time and too much to learn. About technique and about drawing.

 About the moot hall

Built of red brick with timber insertions. External staircase access to upper storey which overhangs the base, used as council chamber and justices room. Beneath it are iron bars of the cell formerly used as a gaol or lockup. A Sundial was added in 1560 for 7s6d.

The ground floor was at one time partly open to allow space for market stall-holders. The square around it was used as market place with a market cross – now a war memorial. A row of capstans along the beach show fishermen landed their catches at this point because of easy access to the market place.

In 1818 quarter sessions it was reported that ‘the gaol is out of repair and should be adapted for the purpose of a prison consistent with the safe custody, health and necessary comfort of the prisoners.
Restored 1854. Decorated chimneys replicas of those originally erected in 16c.

Two poles at the top of the west hill were probably used to hoist flags and lanterns at night to help as guides in bad weather for fishermen to locate that part of the beach where their catches were to be landed in safety.

History notes



Possibly an important roman station which is why road is to north. Slaughden just fishing. Found roman pottery etc in the marshes.


Earliest recorded name in domesday book. Burc as fort. Seo ealde burh. The old borough. Burg as earthwork or fortified town. The nearby village name ‘Iken’ is from ‘Iceni’ tribe.


Attacks in east anglia from at least 10c. 993 anlaf sailed up the river orwell and sacked ipswpich. 1010 danes landed in force. Burial grounds between aldeburgh and snape show were piratical attacks. Need forfort near alde or on site of church.Early british and viking finds together.Foumd remains of a ship within which, under sepulchral chamber was skeleton of chief who commanded it. On his finger bone was a ring of gold set with intaglio that had been treasure of a roman. At his side lay his trusty sword, near his short blade of steel. Locks of auburn hair and fragment of comb. Fragments of a green glass vessel. Over 11 inches. Also early british pottery. The viking chief must have died on a pirate raid, and buried by his followers.


Originally part of See and Priory of Ely. Later Priory of Snape.

With manor in saxon times by uluric. Domesday area reduced. 2 chrches with 60 acres.

1099 manor and church of Aldeburc owned by William Martel. 1155 bequeathed to Bemedictnes of StJohn of Colchester. Right to flotsam and jetsom.

Wednesday market

Aldeburgh formed one of several communities in hundred of plomesgate which extended from saxmundgam and framlingham in north to wickham market in south.

King alfred crated counties, hundreds (100 families/land area?) and tithings (10). Tithings were composed of 10 families dwelling btogether and bound for each others behaviour. Developed into parishes, then hundreds. Hundred was basis of geld assessment and rating.

Business of hundred was in a hundred mote or moot. As court of judicature.



In Tudor times Aldeburgh was a major shipmaking centre, producing ships for the Elizabethan fleet against the Armada.



1524 granted by Henry VIII to Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk. 1547 created a borough by Edward VI.

Common seal. 1561. Incorporated bailiffs and burgesses.

‘This ship in the waves of the sea, all sayles bearinge, with a Lyon rampant in the mayne sayle, is assigned and granted unto ye Baylyffs and Burgesses of ye borough of Aldeborough. ‘Azure on Water in Case an ancient ship of three masts in full sail a Ladder affixed to the side amidships proper the mainsail charged with a Lion rampant the fore and aft sails and pennons each charged with a Cross Gules.’

Sea peas

1562 famine caused by blight siezing corn in full bloom made it inedible, saved by miraculous appearance of bountiful crop of pease on sea shore near orford. Seen as gift from heaven.

Seapeas were staple of. The poor. Crop was said to hae sprouted from a cargo of pease washed ashore from a shipwrecked ship loaded with a crago of peat. But it is different from domestic peas – small and bitter. Probably was there all the time. Then people notiiced it in the famine. It enabled people to survive.

Following autumnn was a good corn crop.

But 1594-97 was a series of bad harvests. But provision for the poor was one of best in europe.

1568 petition for a Saturday market – emphasise importance of fishing industry.

‘Yearly adventure and setting forth of so many fisher boats for herring boats as contain 800 mariners, and there are yearly taken 10000 lasts (fish) at the least, and 300 mariners for the sprat fare (season) taking yearly 3000 lasts; and fourteen ships and crayers are yearly manned into Iceland and North seas having 140 mariners at the least, taking yearly in the time of pax (peace) three or four thousand lings and cods. And there is a yearly set forth 100 mariners on mackrell fare, and in addition twenty sail of ships yearly in merchandise, having 130 mariners by means of which in time of wars the Queen and her progenitors have been served with divers ships, and with 100 or 200, and sometimes more, mariners.’

Fir proporion came from neighbouring townsan villages along ‘sailior’s walk from snape to blackheath. But over 1300 men shows importance of aldeburgh as centre of trade.

…the Wednesday market cannot supply half what is required, and the inhabitants have been served with victuals from neighbouring towns and villages… (competition from Dunwich traders)

The inhabitants at their own cost not only defend the borough from attacks in time of war, but also are a shield and defence to such part of the country as is nigh…for our borough is populous and so known to the enemy which is a terror and fear to them, and were it not that ward and watch were kept day and night the town would inevitably suffer. And not onloy this for had it not been for help at critical times by Aldeburgh mariners ships from Lowestoft, Woodbridge and Ipswich, and divers other towns would inevitably have fallen into the hands of the enemy.’ All had been done without recompense, and the ships in the bay had been helped with anchors, cables etc.

Elizabeth granted Saturday market. 9-3 in summer and 10-2 in winter.early hours ‘to stop the tricks of country butchers who brought corrupt and unwholesome meat into the market, and orolonged and deferred the sale thereof until nighttime, and do then bring out and sell the same by candlelight, when thequality thereof cannot be so weel discerned as in the daytime, whereby many people are much deceived and wronged.’

12 inn keepers. Forbiddem to supply mens servants after 8pm.

Shipwrights, barbers, ropemaker, foreign shoemaker, cobbler, foreign victualler and husbandsman. Foreign meanng from nearbyb townsand villages. Traders p43.

Marketplace had 16 stalls, 9 butchers and 5 cobblers. Demand for meat from passing ships.

Competition from saxmundham traders.

Great increase in vagrancy in tudor times. From suppression of monasteries, but also people seeking work and soldiers discharged from wars of roses, serviong men dismissed by gentry who had no money,, ploughmen out of work by enclosures of pastures, and bad harvests. ‘Tramps’.

Whipping post. A female delinquejt , forgas, had to be chastised over many yars ‘incorrigible maide’. Remained in use till 1631.

The whipping of ;’sturdy beggars’ was found to be no solution. Find employment forbthose, and charity for the impotent.

Blinde harry 1586 given 25s and 15s to buy musical instruments. Then apprenticed to a Peter for £10.

Poor relief was complusory by end elizabeth’s reign. Under stuart kings was a duty prescribed by national legislation for local authorities.

Court of Pie-powder. Deal with debt and trspass on local fairgrounds and markets. Justice so swift that people served ‘before dust shaken off feet’.

Made first election to parliament 1571.


Endemic. 1568 46 deaths, 1569 40. Entire lack of hygiene. Early 17c order issued forbidding ‘casting of muck, ashes, coaldust, sweepings and other noisome things into the streets, lakes, footpaths, etc., of this borough under penalty of 3s.4d.’

Mother bennet 1572 ran a nursing home…p45

Mr loggye new surgeom 1574 but still many shrouds. Cut off limbs etc.

Woman doctor for curing sore heads and legs for poor people.

Men less leg trouble.


Poorer inhabitants rented out to outdwellers. But these often left without paying.


Troubled period for coast towns of east anglia. Threats of war by spain. Pirates from dunkirk, civil war and 3 dutch wars. Loss of sailors and ships, heavy charges for ordnance, and of men for watching the coast. Cost of constructing jetties and groynes against sea encroachment.

Reasonably wealthy. But laxity in granting unsecured loans.

Festivals, repairetc expenses. Pp48-49.

A lot of expenses for entertaining offocial guests at election time.

1626 plague came again.

1646 smallpox and again 1653


Early 18c admin of poor law relief in hands of church,

First innoculations – but peopl tried to avoid.

1770 appointed a medical officer for the borough.


Victorian tmes ‘aldeburgh-next-the-sea’ aldeburgh-on-the-sea-coast’.

4.3 Edge 1: On the Edge

On the Edge

My overwhelming inspiration on this first day was the visit to the Maggi Hambling exhibition ‘On the Edge’ at the Peter Peer’s gallery.

Aldeburgh itself is ‘on the edge’ in a number of ways:

  • the extreme vulnerability to the encroachment of the sea that has halved the land originally occupied in Aldeburgh and nearby Thorpeness and Orford – currently generally held at bay with barriers and groynes, but threatened in the longer term by global warming.
  • to the North the skyline is dominated by Sizewell nuclear power station – with periodic leaks though none so far serious.

The holiday was just after the June general election. Radio discussions on election fall out were playing on a popular mood of shock and uncertainty, reinforcing feelings of anxiety from Hambling’s Edge.

Development of the images

The images themselves were made from sharp rusty edges of ageing tractors used to pull the fishing boats.

Over the Edge

Born of volcanic rust


Sunday 11th June diary

Arrived late on Saturday 10th June, camp and eat.

Sunday morning:
Sun and cloud. 18/19c Windy. 18/19.
Smell of mown grass.
Cuckoos in the morning.

Walk into town in the morning. See Maggi Hambling‘s Edge Exhibition and Walls of Water.

Edge is more political than much of her earlier work on the sea, dealing with the refugee crisis, battle for Aleppo and global warming.

It is called Edge because I feel we are ‘on the edge’. There is a fragility to our existence – both ours and the planet and these works attempt to address that and strike up a dialogue with whoever is looking at them.

The paintings are large, with characteristic dramatic swirls of texture, that then on further looking show fine detail – people, remains of buildings and boats caught up in the chaos. The global warming paintings have a lot of gold, echoing renaissance paintings – but gold is now a reference to greed.
See: article by Andrew Clarke: Maggi Hambling creates new show about life on the edge

At the same exhibition were also the Walls of Water paintings I had seen before. And a selection of her books on sale.

Band on beach. Acoustic guitar. But not many people. Town feels quite empty.

On the walk back for lunch I do video and photos of sea.

Wave Video

Back in the van in the afternoon I did some iPad experiments inspired by Hambling’s Edge and waves. Exploring oil painting brushes, transparency lock and compositing to produce different textures. Trying to capture some of the drama and anger of the Edge.

I also looked at looked at some books of illustration I had brought with me for some ideas on how I might structure a book on Aldeburgh:

  • Olivia Lomenech Gill ‘Where My Wellies Take Me’ a book my daughter had bought me for Xmas. An advert for her exhibition ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ was in the supermarket. I wanted to study her style – multilayered paint and mixed media on top with white gouache, erasing, often on brown paper. Pencil sketching and very good drawing. Use of muted colours. Lots of humour.
  • Tessa Newcomb ‘Paris’. Oil illustrations with cut out and exaggeration of shapes. Use complementary colours in overpainting. I was also interested in how she combined text and image.

I then did some further experiments in Procreate with a more patterned and delicate feel.

Wind dies down at sunset. Fans of sunlight in the sky. Then cloud again.

Walk along the beach to Thorpeness. Areas of beach fenced off to protect the plants.

Some semblance of calm.

Radio discussions on election fall out. Feelings of uncertainty. This re-ignites feelings of anxiety from Hambling’s Edge.

Further development

Back home I printed out the photos and did some mixed media experiments in my sketchbook.

I also revisited the Procreate images as part of experimentation with ArtRage and did a new series of images inspired by Edge.