'Seal' exhibition, Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes, 5th - 18th February 2020
“The ‘Seal’ exhibition provided the opportunity to reflect on the seal colony at Blakeney Point, which I strongly associate with Cley and the North Norfolk coast. I was inspired by this incredible colony and their wild and dangerous lives.
The rawness of the sea and shore and the eeriness of the seal’s song is a haunting experience with which I became familiar as I watched the colony. The walk to Blakeney Point is long and bleak, without noticeable reference points, and it can become almost surreal as it progresses.
The birthing season of the seal pups brought comparisons to me with my own journey into motherhood. I recognised the vulnerability and protectiveness of the mothers and I marvelled at the instinct of the seal pups. These young, initially nursed by their mothers, are then left on the beach until they feel hunger which draws them into the sea to hunt for the first time. Nothing can quite prepare too for the interactions between bull seals. The sheer size, noise and movement is daunting, with significant plays for power taking place on the shore.
I was inspired by their appearance; their doeful eyes belying the resilience of their nature, their environment and how important the seal colony is to this area. Many of the stories I read in researching this exhibition, talked about how much the seals mean to residents and locals alike.
I did not attempt to address the ways in which human interaction threatens the seals, though this will remain a line of enquiry in future work. My observations were always made from distance that was safe to the seals for their wellbeing and also because I hoped to capture their behaviour, unchanged by my presence.