KYST – postscript

Sunday the 20th of October marked the closing of the fourth and last KYST exhibition at Allerød Kunstforening, and as such the official end of the KYST project, which has – to a greater or lesser extent – been a full-time obsession of mine over the last two years.

Lertippan, KYST 04

To mark the project’s cessation I thought I’d just blog a quick summary of what the project has meant to me and include some observations and some of my favorite images and, in doing this, finally and truly put the project to bed.

Broadly speaking the project has had three phases, all of which were very different in character but had in common a certain amount of communication with the public/my audience – something I’ve not really done much of before.

Firstly, preparation – whilst the first inkling of the idea may well have been born well over 10 years ago, it was during 2017 that the idea really began to take hold and become a reality. I researched the idea, looked into practicalities and bought lots of new equipment and gear in preparation for the trip. I also went online and announced the project, asking for feedback as to what the project should be called, where I should start, whether I should walk clockwise or counterclockwise, and so on. Right from the start it was apparent that the project engendered much interest.


The second part of the project – actually DOING it – was 2018 and was really the ‘easy’ part. Once I had the structure and rules in place, once I had the blog set up, all the gear and software sorted, it was just a question of walking around the island every Friday and painting. Of course, there were challenges in terms of the weather and the long days, photography and writing and doing the blog – and I was also really busy with other freelance work throughout the year – but very quickly the Fridays became incredibly rewarding and the most looked forward to day of the week. As I reached the end of the year and the project’s conclusion I began to really worry about what I would be doing post-KYST.

Sunrise, KYST 37

During the walk I received so much support – from people on Bornholm following the blog, from the local TV station and newspaper, from people following my updates on Instagram and Facebook and so on. This was something I’d not really experienced before – this close connection with people enjoying my work – and it was overwhelming to say the least.

The third part of the project – the book and the exhibitions – has in many ways been the hardest, but no less rewarding. The book was a team effort, and it was amazing to work WITH people again (reminding me of my time as a curator and project manager working in museums and galleries). It was a tremendous amount of work, but I was committed, enthusiastic and passionate about delivering a quality book, and luckily so were the other people working on the project. I am proud of the KYST book and thank God for that – because I’ll be living with it for the rest of my life.

The first KYST exhibition was at Svanekegaarden on Bornholm. Once again I was lucky to be supported by an enthusiastic team at the gallery. Hours before the private view I was still unsure as to whether anyone would actually show up. My brothers and sister had made the trip over and I was feeling giddy with nervousness. The opening was a huge success with hordes of people and sales. The exhibition seemed to strike a chord with local Bornholmers and I was overwhelmed by the positive feedback and depth of the connection visitors made to my work. It was a strange and very special experience.

The exhibition was toured to Aberlady in Scotland and then Holt in Norfolk. In both venues, I completely rehung the exhibition, showing new works each time, and creating new narratives. This has been one of the pleasures of having so much ‘raw material’ (over 520 paintings) to work with – but it has also meant an INSANE amount of planning and organization – which has, at times, resulted in a fair amount of tension and drama. In Scotland, I had, for example, a week to make over 40 new frames. ‘Never again’, I said to myself. Just a few months later I found myself in exactly the same situation as I struggled to make 40 new frames for the exhibition in Norfolk – and then once again, making 60 new frames for the exhibition in Allerød. All through the year, I had been working pretty close to the wire, driving back and forth between Denmark and England, with little time to spare. Thankfully I enlisted the help of family and friends along the way, without which it all would have been impossible.

In Aberlady, I was once again blessed by the support of an enthusiastic exhibition staff – something that makes such a huge difference. The private view was well attended and I was so happy to be able to ‘show off’ Bornholm to a new audience. In Norfolk, at the Birdscapes gallery, the exhibition was equally well received and I was thankful for the professionalism and experience of their exhibition team.

The last exhibition in Allerød was the largest and most ‘complete’ KYST exhibition. I invited nine Bornholmian artists, all of whom were heavily inspired by Bornholm’s nature, to exhibit with me -creating a whole new layer to the exhibition and the project. Again, the opening was incredibly well attended and again I was overwhelmed with all the positive feedback. I had to leave the opening a bit early and take a train to southern Jutland where I was attending an artists’ residency. On the three-hour train journey I had ample time to reflect on the exhibition, the book and the project, and digest all the supportive and affirmative feedback I’d received. Collecting the exhibition just two weeks later I was so thankful for the efforts of the gallery staff – volunteers all – who had managed the installation, manned the gallery and -not least – administered the exhibition sales.

Most of the time I work alone – either in the field or at home in the studio. Sometimes I teach, or have meetings, but generally speaking I am in my own world. When I paint, I’m doing it for me, because I want to, because I NEED to – I try not to think too much about what people might think about what I’m doing. The KYST project has been a completely different experience for me, where I have truly been made aware of the effect my work can have on other people. It is a very strange feeling, and truly, one that I’m not completely at ease with – not at all in fact. But I AM thankful. KYST has been a success – in terms of impact, sales, people reached and so on it has exceeded my wildest dreams. It is a strange feeling. I think back to those incredible mornings, those sunsets, that connection with my environment. I am glad it is all there – my paintings, my book, the blog etc. Now I look forward, with more than a little trepidation, to the next project, the next chapter…

And what will I do now, how will I follow KYST? I have a few ideas for a few projects or ‘structures’, but I’m not really sure yet – other than just getting out there and painting. I’ve still got a few KYST talks to give, and I’m still selling KYST paintings from home (let me know if you’d like a list of unsold KYST works) and the book is still selling – but really, it’s time to move on…

KYST, the Book…

(denne side på dansk)

…is finally published. It has been a hard but very enjoyable slog, and I am very proud of the finished result.

Published by NaturBornholm and written in both Danish and English, the book is hardback with 224 full colour pages,, and measures 30 x 25 cm. The forewords are by Bruce Pearson, former president of the SWLA, and Peter Haase, the Director of NaturBornholm. The book is designed by Nye Hughes of Dalrymple Design, printed by Narayana Press, and translated by Marie Lund from Idiomatic, with photography by David Rowan, and additional images by Verner Kjærgaard and HH Pedersen.

The book starts with an introduction, where I discuss the background behind the project and some of the challenges I faced along the way, illustrated with maps and photographs from the trip. Thereafter, the book is divided chronologically, with 2, 4 or 6 richly illustrated pages describing each of the 52 weekly KYST trips, complete with an overview of what I saw, who I met and what was rattling around in my head. In addition there a number of appendices and thumbnails of every one of the paintings I completed within the parameters of the project. The book concludes with the list of 100 names that supported my Kickstarter.

The book can be ordered and paid for online here at NaturBornholm or here at William Dams bookshops’ website. Both webshops are in Danish only but are very easy to navigate (‘levering’ = delivery). The cost is 400kr excluding p & p. Let me know if you have any problems/questions or would like to order directly through me (I have some here and in England).

The KYST Book Kickstarter campaign

(se denne side på dansk her)


Running until the end of March 2019, my Kickstarter campaign aims to raise a minimum of 40,000 kr (about £4,500), in the form of advance sales, for the production of the KYST book.

Follow this link to find out more about the rewards offered and the chance to be one of the ‘Subscribers’ that will be included in the book itself. There is only space for one hundred names, so please hurry.

If you’ve never visited a crowdfunding campaign before, the idea is quite simple. It is an online form of fundraising where people donate money towards a project or outcome. The crowdfunder (me) aims to raise a particular amount of money (40,000 kr) to fund a particular project (production of the KYST book). People interested in donating towards the project purchase products (KYST postcards, the KYST book) on the site.

Kyst cover var 12.detail

If the project target is met, it is my responsibility then to ensure that the products are delivered and shipped as promised. If the project target is NOT met by the end date (31st March), all monies are returned immediately. All financial transactions are managed by Kickstarter and the whole process is absolutely ‘legit’.

The KYST book will be a hardback ‘coffee table’ type book, measuring 300 x 245 mm, with 220 pages printed in high-quality paper by the Danish printers Narayana Press. It will be richly illustrated with hundreds of full colour plates, and will tell the story of the journey, from KYST 01 to KYST 52.

Kyst 13-14

The book will be designed by Nye Hughes from Dalrymple, an award winning graphic design studio based in Edinburgh Scotland specialising in fine art and museum publications. It will be written in both English and Danish, with translation by Marie Lund from Idiomatic translators based in Århus, Denmark. Digital files of the artwork of the highest quality will be produced by Birmingham-based photographer David Rowan. Editing and proofreading by NaturBornholm and Mark Woodhams. It is going to be amazing.

The failure or success of a crowdfunding project is entirely dependent on the enthusiasm and goodwill of its supporters. If you are not able to order a book you can STILL help me by spreading the word. The more people that visit the site and support the campaign, the more chance the target will be reached, which will mean I will be able to deliver a book I can be really proud of.

So please, do visit my Kickstarter site, where you can read all about the book and order one right now…

Thank you for your support in advance, Ben


KYST 52 – from Rønne Harbour South to Rønne Harbour North, 28.12.18

For at læse denne KYST 52 blog på dansk, se her


See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 52 Again, the day was mild with little wind and a thick blanket of cloud. I met Steffan from the local TV station outside the Harbour Office, where I had arranged permission to walk around on the building site of the new harbour. On the sandy building site there was little activity, with most workers off until the New Year. It felt strange to sit and paint on a piece of land that didn’t exist when I started the walk a year earlier, and I was awed by the scale of the engineering project.


I returned my safety helmet, boots and hi-vis vest, and wandered around the rather desolate industrial harbour area, under the shadow of huge silos and smoke-belching chimneys. Older harbour buildings, fishing boats, buoys and nets were juxtaposed against the machines and structures of a modern harbour.


Looking north, the silhouetted spires and red roofs of Rønne were bisected by the masts and radio antennae of fishing boats. There was very little activity or noise, save the occasional whining hum of a passing moped, or the throaty croak of a Great black backed gull.


It was a melancholy day, and I was feeling numb and rather gloomy. I packed up and started walking towards the town, ready to set up camp and boil some water for my Pot noodle lunch, when I was hailed by some friends who had made a bar-b-q in preparation for my coming. A lovely surprise and I continued on in a much better frame of mind, helped no doubt by generous helpings of ‘honningsyp’, a warming local aperitif.

I walked onwards, towards the northern harbour arm with the town on my right. I paused on a small grassy patch, set up the M60 and painted my last view of the horizon, glimpsed between the welcoming arms of the harbour, under a dramatic cloudscape (see top)

I had hoped to paint the Tufted ducks that usually gather in the harbour, but they were nowhere to be seen. I turned my attention instead to the gulls and cormorants that adorned the various piers, platforms and wharves within the harbour, but I struggled enormously to really connect, my senses dulled by the alcohol. Just after I had finished packing up and was ready to move on, the Tufted ducks arrived. Time was running out and I had to hurry to get to the day’s destination and the KYST journey’s end and start point.


Steffan was waiting and I looked around the car park for a while, an underwhelming but strangely fitting place to end the journey. I felt no victorious surge of emotion, just a slight sense of detachment and numbness. I didn’t know what to paint and I recalled a similar sense of confusion that I had experienced almost a year earlier in the exact same place, when I had started the KYST project. Some young Mute swans arrived out of nowhere and I decided to make them the subjects of my last picture, rattled off quickly in the fading light. My wife and some friends arrived with champagne, some fireworks were somewhat miraculously lit at the over end of the harbour, and KYST was over.



Weather report = Cloudy all day. Temperature between 5°C and 6°C. Wind between  5 and 7 m/s from the northeast. Hours of sunshine: 0 hours.

Lessons learned – drinking and painting is definitely not a good combination.

Stops with the M60 = 1

Kilometers walked = 6.83 km

Day lasted = 7 hours, 12 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 17 species (0 new ones = running total 139)

Other stuff = The last two weeks of the KYST project have been carried out under the shadow of a keenly felt grief for the passing of my dear friend, colleague and mentor, Greg Poole – an inspirational artist, teacher and human being who will be missed greatly by everyone who knew him. Greg was an active supporter and advocate of the KYST project and would have been reading these words, had he not been taken away from us. The KYST book and exhibition that I will be working on next year will be created under the stewardship of his watchful gaze, as Greg lives on in my memory, but will be poorer for the lack of his ever present enthusiasm and wisdom.

People talked to = 10 (1 + 2 + 1 + 4 + 1 + 1)

In my head – Greg. The Pokerdudes. The end of the project.


KYST 51 – from Fredensborg to Rønne Harbour, South, 21.12.18

For at læse denne KYST 51 blog på dansk, se her


See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 51 The day was mild, with little wind and a thick blanket of cloud. Abominable news concerning a very beloved friend and colleague occupied every atom of space and every moment of time. The simple act of looking and drawing – of being consumed by the purity and beauty of the landscape – was the only appropriate action.


Some recent visitors to the beach had written or incised their names into the intricate layers of sand and clay sediments exposed on the coastal slope.


From the beach I walked up to the campsite, where I knew I could find roosting long-eared owls. For many generations, Bornholm’s long-eared owls had, for whatever reason, chosen one or two trees in the campsite to spend their daytime roost. Their presence betrayed by a smattering of pellets and droppings, the owls were nevertheless difficult to spot within the thick boughs of the pine tree. I found one eventually and got to work.


Despite remaining stationary, the regular passing of dog walkers meant the owl constantly moved his head.


A local birdwatcher who visits the owls on a daily basis, confirmed there were no less than nine hidden within the tree.


I could have spent many more hours with the owls, but I felt that I needed to return to the coast. From a spot high on the cliffs, I painted the immense sweep of the new harbour arm, still under construction. When I had begun the KYST project 51 weeks ago the arm had not existed.


It was the shortest day of the year, and time had flashed by. I walked quickly through the southern end of the harbour, trying unsuccessfully to get close to the water’s edge. Suddenly the day was over and I rattled of a lightning sketch of the industrial hinterland as I sat nestled between piles of aggregates, twisted metal and wood, with my boots mired in muddy tyre tracks.



Weather report = Cloudy all day. Temperature between 4°C and 6°C. Wind between  4 and 6 m/s from the southeast. Hours of sunshine: 0 hours.

Lessons learned – there are a lot of people walking their dogs around Galløkken

Stops with the M60 = 2

Kilometers walked = 4.68 km

Day lasted = 7 hours, 2 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 22 species (1 new one. Long eared owl = running total 139)

Other stuff = Lots of people came and talked to me today, many of whom were followers of the KYST project. I find it so amazing and humbling to think my work is affecting people in such a positive way, and their positivity really added meaning to my day, my thoughts and my mood.

People talked to = 12 (singles and doubles, and lots of dogs)

In my head – My friend. Strength, courage and the faintest, faintest glimmer of hope. To know what to hope for.


KYST 50 – from Korsodde to Fredensborg, 14.12.18

For at læse denne KYST 50 blog på dansk, se her

See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 50 The lightest dusting of snow disappeared as I approached the coast. Down by the water’s edge, the temperature hovered just over zero. The day was overcast and cold, but there was little wind. The beach as Korsodde was silent and wonderfully peaceful. I sat and watched the colours and tones of the cloudscape gradually mutate and shift and started work on a slice painting. On one of the pauses, I turned around and painted the incredible ochre and russet brown sediments on the slope behind me.


As I passed through the slices on the painting, small delicate showers of ice left their trace on my painting. The last two segments of the painting included the view of the new harbour at Rønne (detail at top).


Eventually I moved on, soon reaching the sandy shore at Onsbæk beach, where a wonderful stand of mature pines overlooks the beach. On the beach itself, the lines left by retreating waves left behind a landscape of peaks and troughs.


Already the sun was beginning its journey back to the horizon, and I stopped under the M60 for some lunch. I walked around the pine forest and looked back down on to the beach, where the M60 seemed to be protected by the boughs of the old pines.


At the end of the beach huge boulders, placed there deliberately to hinder the coastal erosion that threatened the houses up on the cliff, barred my way. I decided to try my luck and see if I could reach my destination in front of the Fredensborg hotel. Nearly two hours later, and soaked in sweat after having clambered on all fours over slippery boulders and dead trees, I arrived – easily the most taxing part of the coast I had encountered thus far. In the greying dusk I painted a couple of mallards bobbing in the waves, while the sleety ice periodically left its mark on my paper.



Weather report = Cloudy all day. Periodic sleety showers. Temperature between 1°C and 2°C. Wind between 2 and 3 m/s from the east. Hours of sunshine: 0 minutes.

Lessons learned – my phone batteries last much longer if I keep my phone in my trousers instead of my jacket.

Stops with the M60 = 1

Kilometers walked = 5.52 km

Day lasted = 7 hours, 5 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 17 species (0 new ones = running total 138)

Other stuff = The coast and the weather now completely remind me of my first few journeys, and the sense of closure and circularity overrides everything.

People talked to = 0

In my head – Son in New Zealand, Dad’s operation, the huge library project and impending deadline.

2018-12-20 (2)

KYST 49 – from Arnager to Korsodde, 07.12.18

For at læse denne KYST 49 blog på dansk, se her


See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 49 Despite a rather horrific weather forecast, Arnager was dry and not too windy. Just as it had last week, the rising sun managed to emerge sporadically between the banks of clouds to cast a golden and pink light across the sea. Workmen were already working on the pier, and I sat down and got to work myself.


I walked on, around Arnager point and onwards, heading west with a fresh wind on my face. To my right a vertical cliff of crumbling chalk, laid down in the Cretaceous. At the base of the cliff, the chalk sediments sat on an older layer of Arnager greensand. Thankfully the water was still very low, meaning that I could keep to the water’s edge, clambering over slippery boulders. Just before I reached Horsemyre Odde I sat and looked back towards Arnager and enjoyed the dramatic and dynamic skyscape. Just as I finished this painting, a thick fog swept in off the sea and completely changed the day.


I stumbled onwards on the pebbly beach, around Horsemyre Odde with the airport fence just visible running along the top of the cliff. There was not a soul to be seen and the local name for this place ‘The End of the World’ felt very apt. Of all the places I had been on Bornholm’s coast, this truly felt the most deserted and least visited. The naked and twisted trees, pounding surf and grey fog all lent a bleak and melancholic feeling to the day.


Soon however the fog cleared and the sun even emerged for a while. A Rough-legged buzzard hung almost motionless in the updraft, adjusting its wings and tail and scanning the grassy clifftop for rodents. I grabbed my telescope and followed it for a while as it patrolled the coast, drawing vigorously and without really looking at the paper. An iconic bird of my childhood I felt blessed to be able to share time and space with such a wonderful creature.



The short day was running away from me and I was nowhere near half way. I trudged on over the slippery pebbles and rocks, marveling at their diversity of form and colour. The Arnager chalk had now been replaced by Bavneodde Greensand -deposited in the upper Cretaceous some 70 million years ago and Bornholm’s youngest sediment. Now, for the first time, in the far distance I could see cranes working on the new harbour arm at Rønne – the town where I had begun this journey 49 weeks ago.

The weather was closing in now, and just before I reached Bavnodde I started to work on a large slice painting. I was hoping to follow the rain clouds that I could see approaching over the sea, but very quickly a fine mist descended which made working conditions very challenging. I tried to work with the mist, covering sections and allowing the water droplets to settle of the pigment, but soon it all descended into a wet and soppy mess (detail, see also top).


By the time I finished the last section the day was almost over and I still had a way to go. I reluctantly left the beach and walked up to the clifftop, where there was a path that quickly took me to the end of the airport at Korsodde, and a waiting car.


Weather report = Cloudy or foggy for most of the day, with some brief sunny spells. Mist and rain in the afternoon. Temperature between 7°C and 9°C. Wind between 7 and 3 m/s from the west. Hours of sunshine: 30 minutes.

Lessons learned – don’t leave a duck wing in your bag for a whole week, it will stink – remember to unpack!

Stops with the M60 = 1

Kilometers walked = 6.51 km

Day lasted = 7 hours, 26 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 16 species (0 new ones = running total 138)

Other stuff = At last! I found a message in a bottle. Or rather a message next to a broken bottle. It read: ‘I am also a Dane, much love’ in both Danish and Japanese…?!

People talked to = 0

In my head – Son in New Zealand, Dad’s operation, the huge library project and impending deadline.


KYST 48 – from Mølledam to Arnager, 30.11.18

For at læse denne KYST 48 blog på dansk, se her


See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 48 Warmly wrapped up in no less than seven layers of assorted clothing, I waddled down to the small beach hut where I had ended last week’s trip, straight into the teeth of a gale-force onshore wind. To the east, just behind a stand of pine trees, the rising sun briefly painted the thick layer of clouds with blood orange and crimson, before it was hidden completely – for the rest of the day as it turned out. As I struggled to paint in the gusty wind, it started raining (see above).

I packed up and made my way down to the beach, where the roaring surf tumbled onto the shore. Squadrons of gulls flew overhead, surfing their way along the coast in the headwind, while great flocks of rooks and jackdaws circled overhead. Otherwise there was very little birdlife; very little life at all, just the incessant pounding of the waves and the roar of the wind.

Soon I reached Homandshald, where I clambered over jagged and pockmarked hunks of reddish sandstone, deposited in a tidal plain during the beginning of the Cretaceous over 130 million years ago. Ever since Sose Bay, I had been passing through successive layers of geological time, through hundreds of millions of years, with each footstep taking me closer to the present. I set up the M60 on the beach, sheltering from the wind and rain, and painted the layers of sediment, pockmarked with sand martin burrows.


I walked onwards on a broad sandy beach, the water unusually low because of the storm. Soon I passed into another geological layer, the Robbedale formation, where dinosaur footprints and fossilized mammal teeth have been found. By the water’s edge I found a beautiful mallard wing, severed cleanly and fresh, which I took with me. Soon I reached Fosforiten, the site of a short lived phosphorous mining operation that was built exactly one hundred years ago, as a response to a worldwide shortage caused by the First World War. The mine ceased after just two years, but slabs of brickwork and concrete foundations can still be seen. I sat on the beach in the wind and painted the view to Arnager, with the wooden posts of the old pier buried in the sand in the foreground.


I walked up the stairway to the top of the cliff, where there was more shelter from the wind and spitting rain. After a break and some coffee, cakes and company, I painted the mallard’s wing under the shelter of the M60, with the secondary feathers shining iridescent in spite of the grey light.


I used a fair amount of time on the mallard wing, and the cold had slowly seeped into my body. Down on the beach again, I continued walking towards Arnager. After a hundred metres or so I reached Vældekilde, a spring that seeps out from the bottom of the cliff onto the beach. The water runs clear but stains the pebbles and boulders with fatty deposits of iron oxide. In the water the pebbles were an incredibly rich ochre colour, while the larger boulders on the edges were the deepest metallic maroon and purple. I used the iron oxide deposits to paint with, and found they mixed well with my watercolours.


I stamped around on the pebbles in the spring, which released their iron oxide and dyed the water an opaque and almost luminous reddish ochre. The bright rivulets of ochre-enriched water formed delicate tributaries and tendrils before emptying into the sea, which I tried to recreate by painting the ochre sediment directly onto a wet sheet of paper.  It was difficult painting in the rain, wind and cold, but incredibly exhilarating. I felt giddy and ecstatic, and deeply connected to my perception of the environment.


I walked on and arrived at Arnager’s impressive wooden pier, the longest in Denmark apparently, and currently under renovation. Sheltering under the new wooden posts I made one last hurried sketch in the drizzle and the fading light. Despite the cold, the wind and the wet, I had enjoyed a fabulous day. As always, I was completely exhausted and drained, and was glad to be collected rather than walk all the way back to the start.



Weather report = Cloudy all day. Temperature between 2°C and 3°C. Wind between 10 and 13 m/s from the southeast. Hours of sunshine: 0 hours.

Lessons learned – iron oxide deposits mix well with watercolours

Stops with the M60 = 2

Kilometers walked = 6.63 km

Day lasted = 7 hours, 42 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 19 species (0 new ones = running total 138)

Other stuff = The iridescent colours on a mallard’s wing was one of the first things that got me interested in birds as a very young boy, so I was very happy to discover the wing lying so perfectly on the beach. It was strange that it was severed so cleanly from the rest of the body, of which there was no trace at all. Several hours and kilometres later, towards the end of the day, I noticed another wing – this time caught high on a thorny on a bush several metres away from the coast. I clambered up and retrieved it and was flabbergasted to see that it was also a mallard wing – and must’ve belonged to the same bird. Weird, just weird.

People talked to = 5 ( 1 + 1 + 2)

In my head – The huge library project and impending deadline.


KYST 47 – from Lilleå, Sose Bay to Mølledam, 23.11.18

For at læse denne KYST 47 blog på dansk, se her

See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 47 The day was cold, dank and grey. A thick blanket of grey cloud completely obscured the rising sun and the brisk onshore wind was bitterly cold. I unpacked my things from the car and looked over the broad sweep of Sose bay. As I turned to pick up my rucksack I caught sight of a sparrowhawk flying fast and low over the field heading straight towards me. In a flash the hawk shot past, slicing through the air in silent intensity and slamming straight into a hawthorn bush from where the panicked scream of a blackbird filled the air. What a start to the day.

I walked along the cliff edge, heading east in order to arrive at the place I finished last week’s trip. To my left fields and to my right the cliffs and then the sea.

I soon arrived back at the beach and headed west again, now below the path upon which I had just walked. The water was low, thankfully as a high water sometimes makes it difficult to walk below the cliffs. Great landslides of mud and clay collapsed onto the beach taking trees and grass and depositing them on the pebbly shore.  The coastline was being eaten by the waves, and the clifftop path I had just walked on would soon end up on the beach below. I looked back towards the east and painted the rich and dynamic colours and patterns, with rivulets of water seeping through the clay and running out on to the sand.

I packed up and walked on, arriving at the strange little quay or landing stage at Sose point, in front of which several fishermen were already waist deep in the water amongst the rocks. I walked on and found myself in a new bay with good views to the west – of next week’s destination, Arnager, and the faintest glimpse of Rønne and the journey’s end, beyond that. The geology was fascinating with a bewildering and I was split between wanting to paint the intricate patterns of the rust red ironstone and the layers of sediment exposed on the sloping sea cliffs. In the end I looked down and concentrated on the tiny strands of half-submerged seaweed leaving delicate patterns on the sand.

Hidden behind the clouds, the sun had already begun its descent and I was feeling pressured with my lack of physical and creative progress. At Dalegårdsodden I stopped for a quick lunch under the M60, where I became fixated on the subtle and understated tones and colours of the sea and sky. For the first time since starting the KYST trip, I worked on a full and uncut sheet of watercolour paper (detail, see also top).

A fine dusty rain coupled with the generous washes of water and pigment meant that the paper took an eternity to dry. Before I could begin on the sea I needed to wait for the sky to dry somewhat, so I turned my attention to the rather stark and foreboding silhouette of the trees behind me. Most of the trees had dropped their leaves now, and it felt winter-like for the first time since much earlier in the year.

I packed up and walked on, exploring the open area by Mølledal, where dunes sloped gently from the coast up to some summerhouses hidden within a small pine plantation. By three in the afternoon the day was almost over. I sat and watched a solitary mute swan bobbing around in the choppy waves. The day seemed so short and dull and the weather so harsh, I wondered how the swan could thrive or even exist in such an environment. As the light faded and the misty fine rain returned, the swan preened and jigged about in the water, both separate from, and at one with, the world surrounding it.



Weather report = Cloudy all day. Temperature between 2°C and 3°C. Wind between 4 and 6 m/s from the southeast. Hours of sunshine: 0 hours.

Lessons learned – I tried out my new binoculars today – they were a vast improvement on the old pair.

Stops with the M60 = 1

Kilometers walked = 7.53 km

Day lasted = 7 hours, 57 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 18 species (0 new ones =  running total 138)

Other stuff = The KYST project consists of 52 journeys, and since starting I have tried to see each trip as a signifier for each year of my life. While physically walking around, I’ve tried to recall my life events during the corresponding year. Thus, I started school in Brighton as a five year old child during KYST 05 – just before Hasle, I became a teenager at KYST 13 as I rounded the Hammer peninsula, and I met my wife Tina just before I reached Gudhjem during KYST 22,. My first child was born just outside of Bølshavn, and I moved to Bornholm at Snogebæk during KYST 37.

KYST 47 then, marks the point where I have ‘caught up with myself’, and amazingly my 48th birthday is actually next Tuesday. It has been an enlightening way of visualizing my life and manifesting the passing of time in a physical and visual way. At Duegårdsodde I stopped and marked the point where I pass into the future for the remaining five trips. I thought a lot about my life and the choices I’ve made and been forced to make, knowingly or not. I thought about people I’ve known and their own journeys around, some of whom whose lives had been tragically cut short.

People talked to = 6 ( 1 + 1 + 2 + 2)

In my head – My son in Auckland, Library project and deadlines, BJJ, poker.