Teignmouth Groynes: 2015


One of the readers of this Tea Towel Blog, Jane, asked me if I have any tea towels that have been autographed.  This followed on from the Wimbledon Blog (dated 28/6/16), where I said that I didn’t collect autographs.  I don’t have any tea towels with a ‘real life’ autograph. However, one of my favourite tea towel designers, Penny Seume, always has her signature printed on her tea towels.  I like that, that claiming of the ownership of an idea.  I like to know whose creation a tea towel is; the National Trust usually print the names of the artist on their tea towels but a signature is one stage better.  Be reassured I am not going to start collecting autographs on my tea towels; I’d never keep up with it, it would ‘do my head in’.

I first saw this tea towel in the Craft Centre of the Devon Guild of Craftsmen in Bovey Tracey, Devon.  I was there for their Annual Craft Festival, held at a separate venue.  Teignmouth Groynes was on permanent exhibition in the Craft Centre, as part of Penny Seume’s work.  I saw it, and loved it; by the time I had spotted it, however, I had already bought two of Penny’s tea towels from the Craft Festival and thought a third might be overdoing it.  That was a mistake; always go with your gut instincts.  After I went home, and had blogged about the tea towels I had bought, I told Penny I’d seen the tea towel in the Craft Centre and how much I’d liked it.  I had no idea what beach it was an image of.  Penny put this on one side for me, for which I am very grateful, and I managed to collect it after the BS9 Craft Trail earlier this year.

I have not yet used this tea towel; it has been placed on the back of the chair where I usually take the photos of my tea towels (the chair that Fee always complains about) so I can look at it and admire it.  Today, I decided to blog about it so that I can continue to enjoy it, in the purpose for which it was intended – wiping up.  Take a good look at the picture on the tea towel, there is not a lot going on in it. Sky, sea, at the very forefront some waves rippling on the shore and a short length of groyne.  For the  uninitiated, the essence of a groyne is that they are barriers, or breaks, running parallel to the shore, from the upper beach into the water, designed to interrupt the water flow and limit the movement of sediment.  In Teignmouth the groynes are 50 metres apart; the area between each groyne is called a ‘field’.  As in the case of Teignmouth, groynes are usually made of wood, although rock or other material is occasionally used. Groynes are a feat of coastal engineering; they are not about adding extra material to the beach but about retaining what exists.

I just love looking at this tea towel. I look at the ripple of brilliant white waves on the shoreline and I can almost hear the gentle sound of the waves, the movement of sand and shells.  The groynes prevent too big a wave splash; it is a gentle sound, back and forth, lapping, inviting you to dip your toes in the water.  The breaking of the waves on the shore is such a small part of the picture, the rest is just sky and and calm sea.  Is it heading towards dusk? Or is it early morning? Are there other people further up the beach, walking their dogs, paddling, skimming stones, watching the horizon?  those questions are unanswered, left to imagination of the beholder.

Anyone who has read other parts of this Tea Towel Blog will know (a) Penny Seume is one of my favourite tea towel designers and (b) one of the things I love about her tea towels is that they usually have no borders, the image goes to the edge of the material, you are taken ‘into’ the image with no barriers.  This one is different in that it is edged, all the way round, with the ‘hats’ that sit on top of the posts at the water end of each groyne.  On this tea towel, this is absolutely appropriate.  Groynes each have an ‘end’ and each end is marked to show how far into the sea they stretch; on this tea towel they are used to mark the end of the image.

Until I was introduced to the Teignmouth Groynes by Penny Seume and her tea towel, I’m not sure I knew what exactly a groyne was. In the last few days I have learnt that they are like buses – when you see your first groyne another comes along almost immediately.  When I was at Southend last week, I found their groynes!!  (See photo a the bottom of the blog, note the little green ‘pixie hats’, different from those at Teignmouth).  This tea towel has given me a new perspective on beaches but now that I have taken it off my chair, I am going to do the wiping up – it’s really good at that as well.




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