Hugh’s prompt is to capture a picture that captures the essence of solitude. This is what Hugh says:

What do you think about when the word solitude is mentioned? For some, it can mean getting some valuable time to spend alone doing the crossword, to read or write, or maybe going for a walk on your own and taking in the sights and sounds of life. For others, it can have the opposite effect.

I’m not someone who enjoys the solitary. Even my walks are better with Dog. But the endless wonder of the sea seems to draw me in, allowing my mind to enjoy the freedom to imagine what’s out and beyond. If that is what people gain from solitude then maybe I understand its positives.

2014-07-25 17.30.37 2014-07-25 17.37.53

These are sculptures from Anthony Gormley that reside on Crosby Beach, outside of Liverpool. Called Another Place they have caused local controversy. To me they capture the two strongly contrasting emotions: the solitude of the sea, a place to think and be; and the loneliness of the isolation.

When I saw them, I was captivated. They seemed to encapsulate a calmness reflective of the wide sands and placid seas. But soon such thoughts gave way to a creeping anxiety, the solitude of the trapped. I thought of the Morecombe Bay Cockle Pickers, the poor souls lost in similar sands when the tide turned and they were stuck, like these iron men. I wrote a poem, trying to understand what I was feeling.

Iron Men

Sharp shapes stand sentinel

Guards of the horizon

Canutes in iron

Broody? Or dreaming?

No feature reveals their mood.

Just an illusion of calm

As the tide approaches

and laps at their feet.

Inexorable, the flood covers

all, slowly, powerfully


A cry is heard

from Morecombe Bay

floating along the Mersey coast.

Another time, another group

trapped by the self same tides.

Brooding? Thoughtful?

Hardly. Frozen by panic, concreted

into their glutinous prison.

The sea is not a muse

but a curse, death, a cruel deceiver.

Finally the surface is still.

Nothing disturbs the calm,

reflective, pacific sea,

lapping my shoes.

I still hear cries, now seagulls

and untamed children.

I turn for my car, carefully freeing my feet

with each step.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in challenge, photo challenge, sculpture and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to solitude

  1. Ritu says:

    Perfect for the prompt!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That prompt will raise many contrasting pictures I think – I may go over in a day or two and have a look! These figures are interesting too – to me they look ever so slightly apprehensive [something in the posture or am I relating too strongly to your poem?] If a statue of me were placed on the edge of the sea if would be very much an embracing and joyful gesture…. something about the sea draws and captivates and awakens me. But then I love my solitude and was probably meant to be a hermit. A hermit with a dog. 🙂 Great response Geoff!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. M. L. Kappa says:

    Haunting piece of art… Very strong and evocative. I love his work. And good poem, btw!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A thought provoking post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Excellent, Geoff. And a good work of Gormley’s

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I remember seeing these statues scattered over the rooftops of some of the buildings in Central London. They caused quite a stir then.
    Great captures for the challenge, Geoff, and thanks for the poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. davidprosser says:

    Wonderful poem Geoff perfectly showed the plight of the cocklers.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. merrildsmith says:

    Wow, Geoff! When I saw the photos you posted here, I felt the way you first described. It is how I stand when we go to the beach (or to the Shore as we say here in New Jersey), gazing out at the sea. But then I started to think the first figure looked slightly apprehensive, as if searching for someone or something. It made me think of all the women who’ve waited for their men to return home from days at sea.
    I didn’t know anything about the Morecomb Bay Cockle Pickers. Your poem captures the tragedy perfectly.


  9. Sacha Black says:

    Awesome shots quite inspiring too

    Liked by 1 person

  10. These are fantastic. Not sure I understand the controversy. ?
    Love your poem. Those last two lines are beautifully done.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ali Isaac says:

    Great interpretation of the prompt, Geoff! Those statues are amazing! I have seen similar sculptures in forest settings, and here in Ireland, along major roadsides, but never in the sea. Enjoyed your musings, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Charli Mills says:

    We have many places of solitude in north Idaho and it can feel both freeing and frightening. Sort of the same as your glimpse at the lonely sculpture on the sea.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Wow, these are amazing Geoff, love them, and the sea too! Perfect for Hugh’s challenge. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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