The Beached Margin

Edward Wadsworth’s painting The Beached Margin (1937), of which I became aware during a recent visit to Tate Modern, where it is presented alongside the work of the Surrealists. Wadsworth himself was never affiliated with Surrealism (he had earlier been associated with the Vorticist movement), but is one of a number of British artists of the period whose work shows a Surrealist influence. During World War I he was one of a group of artists to pioneer the use of dazzle camouflage and his paintings of dazzle ships are probably his best known work today. The linked site suggests his involvement with dazzle camouflage was more in application than design.

The notion of The Beached Margin has much in common with that of The Haunted Shoreline, although if a particular stretch of coast served as a model for the image above, it was probably in southern France, not southern England. There may not have been a model- the beach in the painting is featureless, a kind of Everybeach. All beaches are marginal, after all. The shorelines are haunted precisely because they are shorelines.