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Searching for Solace

Clare James, a Cornish-based surf, travel, lifestyle and documentary photographer and filmmaker turns to poetry to express her journeys.

Words by Hannah Tapping

Clare has always been inspired by the ocean and the way light moves in this field. “I feel lucky to have lived in Cornwall since 2009 working on a variety of photography and film projects for local businesses, artists and charities both in-water and on-land. Alongside which I try to raise awareness of environmental issues and solutions. 

“I have been working with Odyssey Innovation for the past six years, who run a net and marine regeneration scheme for harbours and beach clean groups enabling marine plastic and ghost fishing nets to be recycled and turned back into products such as Handplanes, Net Bins and Kayaks. These kayaks are then used by individuals and groups such as Clean Ocean Sailing to collect further marine plastic from inaccessible coves, this then gets recycled creating a fully circular system.

Clare enjoys telling meaningful stories with her work, often travelling to remote places in search of empty waves. She recently wrote a poem Searching For Solace, describing a surf trip to Scotland and the healing power of the ocean: “I am currently working on another poem about a recent trip to Ireland. Back in Cornwall, it is a privilege to be part of the Penzance Studios artist group, who exhibit my abstract ocean and landscape prints which are also for sale online.”

Searching for Solace

By Clare James

The first touch of light, stirring us from beneath the blankets.

Coffee brewing in anticipation.

Moorland graced by rainbows, a lone surfer, framed by a vibrant arch of colour.

Etched in my memory.

Raw powerful swells, erupting along the shore.

Wind tearing at our wayward jackets. 

Swell lines sweep in, breaking perfectly onto unforgiving reefs and windswept beaches.

Drawing me in.

Our trusty van providing shelter, from the insistent wind,

We struggle into cold, soggy wetsuits.

Damp from yesterday’s session, numb fingers, pulling up hoods and fastening zips. 

The paddle out calls.

The rip running strong, whips us easily to the empty peak.

A-frames of glassy perfection, 

We paddle until our arms grow numb, breathless with exertion and excitement.

Just one more wave.

The fire beckons, a cosy glow from the van guides me across slippery rocks.

Darkness falls, the fire crackles,

Toasty once again, satisfied from a long, invigorating session.

Ready for tomorrow.

Solace was found, within the ocean’s tender embrace and along the lonely shore.

The ocean heals.

A calmness descends, whilst watching eagles soar and otters hunt.

A new perspective forms.


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