Tag: Sea

Leach’s Storm Petrel

It is the 1st September and the time for north westerly winds to start blowing interesting seabirds towards the UK from their haunts in the far north. When gales arrive in the Irish Sea, then the Leach’s Petrel shall be with them.


A work taking its root from the bark. This painting is a meditation on the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts and the Essex whaler story.

On Garston Sands

Imagine if you will a rather forgotten stretch of the Mersey, on the north bank in winter and with the Welsh hills some way distant. It is very early morning.

In the silence of low tide you hear something that gives full justice to that wonderful, yet often overused word – uncanny. These words were an attempt to give some conception to that fragile landscape, both aural and visual, elicited by an alarm call of the Grey Heron.

This poem features in the new collection of works Vallum, published this month.


Why the Heron shriek?
Out of the ether,
Phantom-like, the voice of the dead
Thrust unheard from the throat of the living.
Lost in the marram,
Fleeing the advancing tide.
Yet heard, for one,
To wonder at the spring
From whence the craw came forth.
The neck, so lithe,
Snake-like for enfolding hands to grasp
And grimly squeeze,
Just as advancing waters grip the sand
To wrench a lurking roar
From this mercuric land.
I hear you, but do not understand.

© 2018 J A Elcock

Reproduced by permission from Vallum, published 2018 by The Artel Press.

Postscript.  Fleetingly also enter this moment, in sound. (Credit: Stuart Fisher)

The Last of Summer

The conception started with the idea of a particular species of bird, for my original intention was to have a Swift as the sole subject of the painting. Time and tide in the studio led to the Swifts playing more of a supporting role, in a work which eventually became an allegory for something much greater. By a quirk of fate it was completed in a timely manner to match the work’s eventual title.

The Last of Summer (2017) painting of Whitby by John Elcock
The Last of Summer (Whitby Harbour) (2017)

The work shows Whitby harbour looking East, a location which is an affectionate nod to the painting’s owners. A huge sky dominates the town in order to give a fitting arena for these most extraordinary birds who are meeting under the gathering clouds. Soon they will undertake a long journey taking the last of summer with them.

Acrylic on canvas, 90x60cm


The Cormorants of Utrøst

Words that are a contemporary take on a legend far older.

For those experienced in the alter ego of the North Sea, its benign tranquility – I hope this makes some purchase.