It was a gift that kept on giving. I was captivated by its endless variety and unpredictability, and the fact that I can remember it decades later shows what an impression it had made on me. Simply designed, it was no more than three differently coloured sands trapped between two sheets of A5 sized Perspex. By turning the whole thing upside down and back again, the sands moved and created a new random arrangement of colour and shape. I found it to be utterly fascinating.
Sometimes the result would be exceptionally appealing and I would leave it alone for weeks, not wanting to lose the masterpiece that I had created. That is just the way I am. When I get something I like, I tend to stick with it (I would find it very difficult to do what Andy Goldsworthy sometimes does and create a work that is only going to last a matter of hours, regardless of how good it is).
With that in mind, imagine how I felt when I walked on to Talisker Bay beach on the Isle of Skye and realised that I was now standing on an enormous version of my gift from long ago. This amazing beach mostly consists of grains of black volcanic rock topped with a thin layer smashed up and weathered seashells. Wind and waves continuously move the sands around, creating an infinite series of intricate patterns. This is best described as one of nature’s wonderful gifts to the creative and abstract-loving photographer.
Each new pattern is as fresh and wonderful as the previous one, unlike my gift which eventually lost its charm as the coloured sands became a homogenous mix. It is fair to say that every beach that I have visited has provided its own unique patterns to photograph, but of all the beaches in all the world, Talisker Bay has to be up there with the very best.