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  • Writer's pictureMonique Sliedrecht

In-between Places

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

Freswick Bay

There is a slight feeling of autumn in the air this morning. A late summer glow permeates the sky highlighting the bright patches of yellow ragwort that are scattered across the fields, and a gentle breeze moves through the grasses and tree branches. The sun is shining, while blue-grey clouds hover in the distance.

One evening, while down in England last week, I was shown the area of Parkgate, a village on the Wirral Peninsula. It is a beautiful area where silt has built up over the years creating a wetland for birds. It is on the banks of the River Dee and views stretch over the 4 mile wide Dee estuary to the hills of North Wales. My friend's grandmother remembered Parkgate in the 1880's when she was a little girl and it consisted of beautiful golden sands and a tidal estuary. How quickly things change in our world!

Parkgate Estuary looking over to North Wales

Looking north along the salt marsh and quayside at Parkgate

People were walking along the promenade, ice creams in hand, and enjoying the open air and the early evening light. There was a definite feeling of autumn hanging just around the corner, and here at Freswick the sense of that is even stronger.

While a season in its own right, autumn can sometimes feel like an in-between time to me - the transitional time which closes the summer and prepares us for winter. Right now, as August moves slowly into September, this certainly feels like a limbo land. Putting a show up feels so great but soon there is returning home and wondering what comes next. Ideas float on the wind like seeds, but nothing is settling.

Everywhere there is uncertainty and change. My sister wrote me recently and mentioned that she and her 3 young children had gone to the lake for a swim. It was lovely and sunny out. Soon, however, a dark cloud of smoke blotted out the sun and they had to go home and shut all the windows. This was a result of forest fires which have been a major issue in British Columbia, as it is in other countries and states.

Smoke from forest fires moving in over West Lake, Prince George, BC

Photos by Charissa Laarman

It has been a challenge to negotiate the shifting sands of regulations between England and Scotland on my recent travels. Hardly anyone is wearing masks in England, not even in the shops or hotels and, at first, I found this quite troubling. But no sooner had I adjusted to the new-found freedom and fresh air, I came back to Scotland where masks are still worn everywhere in any kind of public place.

Life in the UK with its invisible borders can be disorientating!

It's a strange territory, this 'in-between place', trying to come out of lock down, but still holding back, clinging on to the last of summer but almost in autumn, putting a show up only to take it down in a week's time.

The title of my exhibition, 'Toward the Northern Night', suddenly seems very apt as the days are noticeably getting shorter. In this so-called downtime , I hope to find a new destination in which to show the work.

All the while, I guess I have to make myself comfortable in Limbo Land. Perhaps it's not such a bad place to be, a place of waiting and reflecting and dreaming.

Watcher of the Skies Acrylic on Panel, Gorse, 22ct Goldleaf, Found Objects 29 x 24 x 3 cm

Monique Sliedrecht 2021

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