Baggy Point, North Devon

Baggy Point, the headland on the east of Croyde in North Devon derives its name from bag, meaning hole or cave. The headland is full of caves, and February?s extremely low spring tide lured me to explore Baggy Hole. Kester Web, knows this coast better than most, and encouraged me along with Mark (brother of one of Kester?s old friends) and Matt, who we found climbing down a rope to the rocky beach. The photograph of Baggy Hole, above, was made from 75 separate frames, then stitched together in Photoshop.

The image above is the quick sketch and is very much work-in-progress but it shows how heavy threatening and foreboding the place is. It’s no wonder that there have been tales of ship wreck, smuggling, mermaids and secret passageways associated with Baggy Hole. Eventually after a few days at the computer I’ll have an image that can be printed high quality 150cm wide. I like to get a sketch made soon after taking the original photos so that I know I have the whole image and because I never quite know how it’s going to look. Often I’ll only get this far deciding that compositionally or aesthetically it just isn’t working.

On the left is the secret lake made from exposures of up to 6 minutes long. This is a treacherous coast and accessing these hidden places can only be done in the right weather conditions and on the lowest of tides. Also a little rock climbing knowhow, a rope, harness, carabiners and sling are important for safety. You wouldn?t want to be stuck in these places with the tide racing in.

Baggy Hole is the largest of the sea caves in Baggy Point. This was our first destination and involved a slippery descent down a little used fisherman?s track to the beach, a scramble over wet boulders; then a climb up, over and down a ?camelback? of rock to another beach, the entrance to the cave. The cave, unseen from the cliff path, is huge it?s entrance must be 50ft or higher and the distance from front to back must be 100ft + but I?ll get these confirmed and update once I know. I just wanted to get as far into the cave as possible and see the full extent of the cave from it?s dark depths.

There?s little point in trying to explain how to get to Secret Cave, I?ve been there before and I still couldn?t find the narrow entrance that you slide down feet first, even though I?d been led to within a couple of feet of it. This place is truly special, everything you might want of a cave, lot?s of passages, a huge skylight, opening to the sea with small beach, and a large lake-like rock pool. You might want to live here if it didn?t fill with 30 feet of water twice a day. This image shows the scale of Secret Cave with the skylight top left.

Review in arts+culture magazine

Dave Green’s photo exhibition at the Tavistock Wharf revels in discovery of the North Devon coastline

By Heather Smith, on September 22nd, 2009 – from arts+culture magazine

Dave Green, a Bideford-based photographer, reveals hidden parts of the North Devon coastline in his solo exhibition at Tavistock Wharf.

His work is a continuation of his childhood fascination with ?looking for that elusive hidden rock pool teeming with life or being the first person to tread over the sand and discover a cave?.

Seemingly undaunted by tides, he continues to ?discover?, squeezing his adult self into narrow tunnels formed by the pounding ocean and wedging himself at the back of sea caves. He documents his artistic endeavour using a digital camera. In Turbulent Passage, Baggy Point, North Devon 2008, a trail of sea foam on the smooth, untouched sand creates a feeling of isolation and imminent danger, but also wonder at being able to see something usually hidden from the human gaze.

In these meticulously-created Constructed Photographs, Green overcomes the problem of lighting in the cave that would result in dark, detail-less images by taking many different, long-exposure shots and stitching them together in Photoshop. The edges of his work are often left jagged, as if individual photographs have been placed together ? la Hockney. The results are images that reveal the exquisite tones and textures of the rocks within the cave and pictures that have both depth and movement. The viewer is taken on a journey from the dark space of the cave to the glare of the outside light, the secret openings and slick, smooth rocks provoking analogies to birth and ?the feminine.?

The biggest surprise, perhaps, is the way in which Green?s images manage to turn the most hostile and remote of environments into an almost comforting space.

Another highlight from the exhibition is the selection of camera-less images from the1990?s. Created by placing natural materials ? seaweed, nettles and leaves ? directly onto 5 x 7 photographic paper and using the action of sun, water, fixer and developer to form unique pictures, these ?photograms? have a surprisingly wide range of colour and tone. There is evidence of Green?s love of stitching here too as the smaller images are rearranged to create different ?wholes?.

The exhibition runs until Saturday, September 26.