Each morning the tractor is started up and driven down 10 or 20 meters onto the hard sand to float the boat into the water. There it waits until the boat returns, when it is driven up onto the stones and the hard ground.
Fishing and prayer are such similar acts; the process is reliant on God to provide the nutrition, the luck or the bounty. All that is required is dedication to go out and cast your net and send your prayer out with a constancy and a daily belief that good things will come from it. Like the tides of the sea prayer has a rhythm that works best on a daily basis.
The act and concept of witness is so solid and inscrutable. You are asked to wait, walk and hope to see and pass on information to the next generation. I took pictures of the 12 tractors on a beach in Cromer and had such a strong connection to them as objects of witness: they see the passing of time as the tides, the seasons, or the generations. Before the tractors have had several shapes and embodiments. : before there current embodiment of hauling fibreglass boats powered by diesel they carried wooden clinker boats hauled up by man or hoarse.These objects of use have retained this space on the beach for longer than there own life span making them witness the the change to there surroundings even if only in the incremental creep of rust from the salt air.
The fishing community in Cromer has been there for what seems like forever. The boats are only modernised in materials not in design. They are strangely both objects of pure industrialism and superstition with small talisman strapped on with twine and fishing string. I started to feel like these tractors on the beach were waiting for god in the same way as the witnesses at the end of John.The idea is that being on the beach is like waiting for God to appear without expectation.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “No”, they answered. (John 21 v.4-5).
When I visualise this image of Christ waiting on the beach I view it on my own beach. I am specific. I am there watching with the tractors waiting behind me, with the tide going in and out and together we watch Jesus appearing in the morning light. Cannon Angela Tilby referenced this in a recent Thought for the day on BBC radio 4
Sacred events are sacred because they are true in all times and in all places.
She spoke of how people have interpreted the stories of jesus as experienced as a presence in their lives and in there surroundings by extension.
In the later part of this story Jesus redirects the lives of the disciples and by inference our lives:
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some”. When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. (John 21 v.7).
We are asked to accept that through the acts of the gospels Jesus asks us on every tide and every beach to remember, to witness, and to change our lives. This concept of inhabiting a biblical text is called Ignatian Contemplation, and I wanted to vocalise how I felt the tractors contained such a multilayered religious act.
The next part of this project is to create a mediative video that is responded to by a daily office based around the imagery of the sea. People would be invited to partake in the saying or viewing as contemplative act of witness.