Thursday, August 14, 2008


"I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown for going out, I found, was really going in." - John Muir.

From the moment my toes sink into wet shingle I feel cleansed of the city buzz. There's something so calming about being at the sea. Breathing in the salty air, gazing out as far as the eye can see and generally just slowing down from the rushing about that we all do.

......And then there is the searching, the unearthing and the gathering of sea treasures.

Our family has been collecting cowrie shells for as long as I can remember. If a cowrie washes up on the sand we see it as a message from our loved ones who have passed on. A message of love. We see you, we hear you, we are here.

My eldest daughter favoured the spotless white cowries and my youngest, the little brown speckled ones. I love the sand buffed, worn cowries....though I have to admit that the first siting of a perfect new cowrie makes my heart sing.

I have been working on my "Beachcomber" totem for the past week and reliving those long languid days, wandering along the sea shore.


  1. Ooh, sea treasures. Lovely! Your beaches look lovely too, you don't find much wild beach in Europe these days. When we first came to Spain we would see herds of goats on the beaches but no more, its all hotels and hammocks these days. Shame.

  2. What a joy to see your finished totem...Robyn, its truly magnificent. Makes me want to reach out and touch it!
    Your "beach combing" day sounded wonderful. I love your famalies belief in the cowrie shells and thier beautiful meaning...From now on, I will think of this everytime I see one washed up on the beach!
    Robyn, your wild beaches are so similar to some of ours...looking at the images, it could have been Torquay here in Victoria! Breathtaking.

  3. Your "Beachcomber" is wonderful!! This is the second post in a row that I've seen tonight about the beach. Yes, something truly healing and magical about it. How I wish we lived close enough to at least visit once in a while...not that I don't love the flat farmland of my ancesters.

    Are those cows on the beach?! That's something I've never seen!

  4. I love that the cowries have special meanings for you... We never find these beautiful shells on our northern beaches..

    Your imaginative carvings please me every time.. so tactile and lovely

    I want to trade places with one of those cows!!

  5. Cherry, I'm afraid our beaches are going to go the same way. There are more and more areas that are being sold to large overseas developers to be turned into luxary housing estates and hotels.

    Jo, I have heard that there are many similarities between Oz and S.Africa. I have a brother in law who is over in Australia for a month as we speak.

    Willow, it's very common to see cows, goats and donkeys on the beach in the Transkei.

    Gwen,I don't get to the beach often enough since selling the family cottage. I often think of trading places with you when you write of those wonderful solitary walks along your beach.

  6. The "Beachcomber" totem looks huge. Just how tall is it?

    The beach looks pollution free too which is nice. In Japan most of the beaches have rubbish on them which apparently comes from Korea and China...

  7. Hi Jason, isn't it a pity about the pollution! My totem is 160 cm tall.

  8. Your totem...I'm speechless. I have had a powerful reaction to this totem. For whatever reason. The sight of it has brought a lump to my throat, tears to my eyes, and fullness to my heart. I must ponder this...

  9. Top toteming that woman!x:)

    Absolutely stunning and the piccies of the beach make me want to fly out NOW!(...haven't had holiday in 13yrs, the menagerie would never speak to me again!)

    And how's this for hubby's called Ben and my Bully is called Bella...teehee! ;0)

    (....right back atcha Hens Teeth! x;0)...)

  10. Hello Robyn of Art Propelled. I am so glad to meet you. Your piece is beautiful and your blog is so heart felt. i love your work and your writings. I am so moved. Wow, the hyena men ?? Stunning. Thank you for sharing.. I appreciate your support on my new blog.
    Thank you,

  11. Kate, you have touched my heart. Thank you.

    Embellisher, it's wonderful to be sharing our work across such distances. Different mediums, different countries, but a common passion for creating art.

    Mimilove, I have the same problem with the menagerie.

    Caroline, I appreciate your great comment, Thanks for stopping by.

  12. I totally agree, the sea does something to the soul. I know my energy levels increase after a visit and the collecting of shells and glass is a bonus. I agree with Jo, you could so easily have been on one of our beaches and we get the lovely cowrie shells too.

  13. I loved your post today. Your totem is gorgeous! The symbolism of cowrie shells has such a wonderful meaning. I have spent my life living far from the sea, but in my mind I can go there effortlessly. Thanks for stirring the memories again. P.S. It is wonderful to see open range cattle. We keep ours behind barbed wire in Wisconsin. I always wonder what they would do if the borders were removed.

  14. Ro, you are right about energy levels. It's been a while since I was at the coast and I must say I'm feeling like a top up of energy.

    Chris we also keep our cattle behind barbed wire here but in the wild areas (like the Wild Coast in the cow photo) there are very few fences.

  15. "Beachcomber" is an incredible work of art! Your work is amazing, I love the moments of your life that you share with your beautiful creations...Roxanne

  16. this totem is breathtaking an di love the theme of it. i also enjoyed hearing the meaning of a cowrie rolling up onto the sand. i've never heard that. very special.

  17. Oh so beautiful ~

    I am speechless!


    I am serious. My heart just stopped for a beat. I loved your entire post!


  18. and your favorite cowries are the sand scrubbed, worn ones ?!! my oh my, one more thing...

    robyn, this totem is exquisite... i love the way she holds all of the treasures in her torso. i love all of the *treasures*!!! and the beads around her neck, and the expression on her face... all perfect, absolutely perfect.

    so inspired by what you do...

  19. Angela, Thank you so much. I think people who don't live at the sea (and a few of those who do) find the beach very magical. Memories of childhood.

    Lynne, you're back!The neck piece actually consists of a very old piece of fishing net still with its sinker attached and shark teeth.

  20. Gosh, your beachcomber totem is a magnificent piece. Very striking indeed!

  21. Wow, Robyn... Your Sea totem is truly a treasure. Beautiful work! Thanks for sharing...

  22. I feel exactly the same way about the ocean. nothing like it in all the world to me. And the gathering of treasures is just the icing on the cake, isn't it? I never knew that about cowrie shells, though...I will keep my eyes peeled in a whole new way, now!

  23. Azirca and Ahna, thank You!

    Amy, I always feel uplifted when I find a cowrie.

  24. I'd missed this post- I'm glad I found it today. I love this totem with the boxes filled with treasures. Wonderful

  25. This totem is spectacular. I find the beach to also be so calming and inspiring.