As a child, sailing with my Dad, I used to find the term 'Withies' vaguely amusing, but now I love them. They are the punctuation marks of inland waters. Usually made of willow stems, they are traditionally used to mark minor tidal channels in UK harbours and estuaries. At high tide, the tops of a line of withies stuck in the mud, on one, or both sides of a channel will show above the water to indicate where the deeper water lies.
Despite their existence we would occasionally miscalculate and get stuck on the mud for a short time until the tide rose to float us off. Magical moments spent listening to the calls of the Curlew and the lap of water against the hull.
On one such memorable occasion we watched a man who's boat was grounded, climb overboard and attempt to cross the mud bank to dry land beyond. As he progressed, the mud became stickier and more like quick sand. To spread his weight he started to crawl. Then bit by bit he removed his clothes to distribute his weight further. He was heading toward the garden of a beautiful house that went down to the estuary where a smart couple were enjoying an evening cocktail. Like Margot and Jerry Leadbetter in The Good Life, the couple looked on in horror as the man, snail like and covered in black estuary mud, approached their perfect life. As the tide floated us on our journey, I watched the poor man being hosed down. I don't think he will ever do that again.
Withies, oil on canvas, 100x100cm was painted in April 2020, please enquire for further information email@example.com