Claire Peckham | Port Isaac + Port Gaverne, Cornwall, United Kingdom
GG / Where is your favorite river, lake, ocean or poolside escape, near or far? Why?
I visited Port Gaverne, a small hamlet just east of Port Isaac in Cornwall, in 2019. After 4 hours on a bus winding through increasingly twisty and narrow streets, I arrived at my Airbnb only to immediately realize I’d left my purse on the bus. Luckily (or maybe unluckily) for me, my host was a speed demon with a competitive streak: we zoomed up the coast after the bus trying (and failing) to intercept it before eventually catching up with it at the terminal. When the driver saw me, panicking as I sprinted out of the car, he casually said he’d been waiting for me and then asked why I looked so nervous.
Ridiculous travel antics aside, Port Gaverne and Port Isaac remain some of my most treasured memories by the sea. They embody my favorite elements of seaside towns, and UK landscape: dramatic cliffs, ramshackle buildings, colorful accents and clearcut fields. Growing up in the PNW, where all shorelines are forested, the visual cleanness of UK cliff faces is refreshing and entrancing to me.
GG / What does going to the water’s edge do for you? How does it help you?
I’m fascinated by the liminality of shorelines. Tourist towns so often feel like weathered stage sets; the water acts out different textures and colors depending on the quality of light. That liminal space is a big influence on my art practice, where I explore the visual relationships between the human body and its surroundings through collage.
GG / When is your favorite season to be by the water? Winter? Spring? Summer? Fall?
Spring and fall.
GG / Do you have rituals for your place? (e.g. do you always walk the beach at 8am, or always take home a seashell, etc?)
I write and photograph the places I travel in. A couple years ago I started recording myself singing a hymn in the places I visited, including the sound of water or buzz of insects nearby. I hope those recordings become an art project one day.
GG / What’s your best beachcombing find?
Beach jewelry: Favorite summertime pieces?
I started buying jewelry with Scottish marble a few years ago from a little shop in Edinburgh. It’s nothing super fancy, but I fell in love with those pieces and the ritual of visiting the shop. One of their locations is on a walking path between Edinburgh Waverley and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, which I visit every time I’m in town.
Lifeguards: Love them or feel Watched?
UK beaches apparently don’t believe in lifeguards, so now that I’m back in the states I feel very watched!
Early morning at the beach or Afternoon into Sunset?
I walk along the beach at all times of day, but early morning and evening are my favorite.
Beach chair or lay-flat towel?
I usually just get a sandy butt.
Rivers: for floating or boating?
Pool Party: Work on Tan or Get in Laps?
Can’t tan. Laps all the way.
Four words to describe you best water memory
Cliffs, evening, violin, singing
Quiet sailing boat or power boat?
Neither. Never been much of a vehicle person, I prefer swimming!
What are your beach bag essentials?
Sunscreen, camera, journal, headphones, phone (aka backup camera), podcasts (Maintenance Phase, Working it Out and The Guilty Feminist are my favorites), snacks
Beach Bar: Rose, Pina Colada, Pilsner?
SPINDRIFT. No idea how or why it’s so good but it really is. Raspberry lime is my favorite. I have a special soft spot for elderflower soda, which you can get in the UK.
Best beach walk?
Cliffs of Dover, or Cullen Bay to Findlater Castle.
Sand dollars or sea glass?
Winter beach walks: makes sense or makes crazy?
Makes sense as long as you have a good coat and shoes.
Tan lines or total SPF coverage?
My Irish skin requires SPF at all times or I will burn to a potato crisp.
GG / Fav swimsuit?
I just bought a swim shirt I really like. Swim shorts from Tomboyx are definitely on my wishlist.