Yesterday saw me cycling in the early morning along the coastal cycle path to Carnoustie to meet and interview fellow beach comber, Stuart Henderson.
Initial contact had been made via my website through his daughter Marta, who herself is a practicing artist. Graduated in sculpture Marta now creates textile works and writes patterns. She wondered if I would like to see the objects and bottles that her dad has collected over the years. Of course I accepted!
When I was given my directions to meet at their home I was assured that I would easily know which house in the street it was , This was no exaggeration. The driveway was covered in shells from the beach and the pathway to the back door led to a wall with up-cycled buoys that had been converted to planters.
Our informal meeting began with introductions, coffee and biscuits. It was a family affair with Stuart, his wife Zenta, daughter Marta and the family pooches in attendance.
I was very excited to meet Stuart and hear about his beach treasure. I was not prepared however for the extent of his eclectic and beautiful collection.
Stuart began collecting from an early age when he would search the coastline for Irn Bru bottles. Fourteen bottles where required to earn him the £1.40 for his return bus fare homewards.
Examining Stuarts carefully curated haul of treasure I began to recognise groups of objects that I also collected myself: teeth, screw bottle tops, buoys, forged iron nails to name but a few.
Not only where we attracted to similar objects but some of our reasons for collecting where similar too:
Over the decades Stuart has found more that twenty 'messages in a bottle'. When Stuart finds a bottle he always tries to contact the sender. However bottles are not the only means to the creation of a human connection. Stuart has found a number of bags over the years also.
Every room in Stuarts house displays part of his extensive collection. I thought that my own collection was big until I got the chance to admire his. I was inspired not only by his keen eye but his wit and kindness too.
It was a real pleasure to meet with Stuart and his family and hear the numerous tales that resulted from his collecting. I felt privileged to be allowed to view his amazing collection. Our meeting concluded with me giving Stuart one of my bottles to launch into the waves.