SHAPED BY AN OLD TOWN – Nick Pumphrey in collaboration with Leica.
Rambles and Observations from the past to the present.
A photographic essay of my hometown of St Ives, a town that has shaped me, the town that continues to do so.
Early memories of Porthmeor beach, the smell of salt in the evening summer air, clambering onto the hot Blue Elvin rocks at high tide, the waves seemed so far away out there beyond the safety of my parents hands, a mysterious world that kept me curious, a world that I was scared of.
11 years old and a first class ticket to this world of waves, the first chapter of clear passion begins: Mum & Dad buy me my first Boogie Board. For the next decade this becomes my absolute passion, my new form of education where nature is my headmaster and I am the forever student through experience and a burning desire to always be in the sea. Natural progression in wave-riding and at the same time, a subconscious learning of the rhythms of the sea, the way she moved and reacted with the winds, the incoming winter storms and how that energy would translate into the waves for my friends and I to ride to the shore. My teachers in the ‘other’ school would frequently tell me off for not paying attention as I gazed outside, my brain calculating the tides and swell, the wind that had just swung to a southerly direction. I had found my subject that I chose to study, or maybe the subject had chosen me.
I read recently that the places that scare us are the places we should lean into because the feeling of fear is also the feeling of being true to your heart.
That scary place as an 11 year old has become my most comfortable place as a 45 year old. There is not an hour that passes by where I do not think about the sea, my whole being and time is still shaped by her. I live for the storms and the changing seasons, the noise and the quiet, the long days and short ones, the white, bright light of summer and the low, lateral, golden glow of winter, I welcome it all just as I did as a kid. Surfing and photography are my companions that flow perfectly with what nature gives, an easy decision, mostly intuitive, to swim with the camera or to go for a paddle and catch a couple of ‘energy waves’.
The sea is and will always be my subject, it is a feeling that is deep inside me and through my photography I try to convey these feelings into still moments. The joy of this is and always will be in the process of the art. I wouldn’t want it any other way; I don’t want to get to the end point, I welcome the constant change, to always be the student.
This small body of work is from the last 18 months in St Ives. 22 photographs, an insight into what I’m drawn to, the kind of stuff that makes me feel alive, and an ode to my younger self that is still very present today.
1: North Westerlies off the back of the Island.
2: Morning Autumn light dancing off the high tide.
3: Blue Elvin painted by tide.
4: Rock form carved over time.
5: Energy, movement and light in flow.
6: Rising swell and rising tide, wintertime dusk.
7: Cormorants and the calmness of a summer eve.
8: Leaving the Sea, a self portrait of sorts.
9: Sarah and the Sea, moments of connection before coffee.
10: The rising of the sun at Porthgwidden beach.
11: First light and the skin of the Sea.
12: Moonlight and the skin of the Sea.
14: A beautiful collision of morning light and a fresh swell.
15: Porthmeor Beach, where it all began.
16: The Sea, the place where I find peace.
17: Storm passing through.
18: Jacob, always in a state of flow.
19: Larger wave form beyond the usual sand bank.
20: Sea fog and the Seagull at Porthmeor.
21: The starkness of Winter.
22: Moonrise over Porthmeor.