Musician and composer Hilary Woods tells Best Fit how the Irish coastline and its sea waters shaped her as an artist.
“When you grow up on an island, what matters is how you stand to the sea.”
I love this quote by Dublin’s own Roddy Doyle, who is from the same stretch of coastline as me. Being Irish, the sea is a constant presence that is deeply felt, it has shaped so much of the Irish experience. I come from a long lineage of family members who swam in the sea every day, it was my grandmother’s daily ritual, her creative practice.
Although Winter has always been the time I associate with writing, nesting, creativity and alchemy, I love the fact that my record is being released in the Summer. Symbolically and seasonally coming up from the undergrowth ready to exhale and have a life of its own in June. On release day as a way to celebrate, it would be ideal to take a trip to the sea to bathe in the buoyancy of the ocean, enjoy the taste of sea salt, grains of sand in my hair and being in the open. I’ve always loved the water.
TS Eliot once wrote ‘that the sea has many voices, many gods” and by de facto, I’ve always felt swimming in the sea was a way to immerse in cool fresh ways of being and engage with new voices; An opportunity to gain perspective on our own interior monologues and value systems ; to be rid and free of them, to be cleansed, rejuvenated and start a fresh.
Sea water has always been a source of comfort...as Iris Murdoch once wrote “Time, like the sea, unties all knots” and in the same vein almost by osmosis, thoughts or inklings that weigh on me become weightless in the sea, they surface and dissolve - dispersing and disappearing out into its own vastness. In exchange, the sheer volume, density and breadth of its waters offers clarity and inspiration. Its expanse in space, and its existence stretching back in time since time immemorial, blows my mind every time I think about it.
I’ve lived on the island of Ireland most of my life, and it’s fair to say that the sea has shaped me in a very profound way. I grew up by the beach next to Dublin Port and the horizon and what lay beyond it, preoccupied my thoughts as a kid. Igniting my imaginings, I felt there was always something mysterious and mystical about it; I loved stories of the sea, fiction about underwater life that remained hidden and secretive and out of sight, of fantastical sea creatures that transformed and transitioned on land and took different forms in the ocean.
I was always struck and intrigued by its strength, tidal times, medicinal powers, sea swells, reflections, what it throws up. Growing up in a country surrounded by water, I recognise that the sea has created in me a desire to travel, to escape, to look outward and to dream.
Above all, the sea is a tonic. And what I love most about it is the fact that all seas, like records, have their own character. Immersed in it, our bodies and beings become lighter.