A conversation with muse Easkey Britton
In the luminous milky pools formed by wave and tide we were witness to the transformative power of salt water on natural beauty Easkey Britton - artist, surfer, researcher, speaker and basho muse. She spoke with us about the power of exploring her own inner cycles and the greater connection she has with the ebb and flow of the natural world.
Do you know your skin type? Has it changed in your adult life? If so how?
My skin got very dry earlier this year. My body didn’t seem to be absorbing enough water and I wondered if it was linked to the fact that we had to change our household drinking water source. We used to get our drinking water from a spring well but water tests found trace amounts of pollution. And I’m not convinced our tap water is the best - so we’re working on getting better quality water and I started to take a spirulina supplement. I notice that periods of dehydration come in cycles and usually flair up when I’ve been using too hard before the start of my menstrual cycle.
Do you have a creative discipline or passion which you dedicate your time to? How does it impact your health/wellbeing ?
My painting. The urge to paint rises as a deep longing and it’s the one activity other than surfing where I experience total immersion. It’s a powerful release. It reminds about the importance of a creative practice and the need to make make space for it. I have a place I go to, my friend Pauline Bewick’s art studio tucked away in a mountain valley on the south-west coast of Ireland. I first met Pauline when my Mum brought me to one of her painting classes when I was 10 years old and we’ve been pals every since. She’s now in her 80s, so full of life, passion and wisdom - it’s been wonderful to have that mentoring and guidance from an older female role model.
When do you feel your most radiant self?
After a cold sea-dip or a surf in winter swells. The cold water just fires every cell in my body. I’ve been in the sea my whole life, but mostly wrapped up in my wetsuit aka ‘seal skin.’ There’s something about stripping bear and having that more direct contact with water that is instantly electrifying. I’ve been building up my tolerance for these cold-water dips for the last couple of years since spending more time at home year-round on the west coast. There are such lovely ‘tribes’ of sea-folk of all ages and backgrounds who gather at these favoured pockets of coastline for an almost ritualised immersion in the sea. I love that sense of belonging and connection when you share an experience as intense and visceral as that. Another friend recently introduced me to river rock-pool plunging, so I have a new fascination for rivers and water’s journey to get to the sea!
Do you have any self-care rituals that ground/nourish/energise you?
It always comes back to my need to feel more connected with nature. It can be a mix of mindfulness practices in nature - my current favourite is creating my own regular ‘sit spot’, noticing whats going on around me near and far and the changes through the seasons. It’s a rare moment of stillness for me. I find foraging very grounding although I’m still a complete novice. So far I’ve been experimenting with seaweed, and picking elderflower for cordial or dandelion tea! And anything that gets my body moving, dancing, jumping into a wild body of water!
What is beauty to you?
Beauty is a feeling of presence and aliveness, that deep sense of connection felt when the beauty of nature captures our attention. I love David Whyte’s description of beauty in his book Consolations, “Beauty is the harvest of presence (…) an achieved state of both deep attention and self-forgetting; the self-forgetting of seeing, hearing, smelling or touching that erases our separation, our distance, our fear of the other. Beauty invites us to that fearful frontier between what we think makes us; and what we think makes the world…”
How do you reconnect when you’re feeling out of touch with yourself?
The breath. I love how with each breath we take we are always connected with the ocean. How 70% of the oxygen we breathe was released from tiny ocean plants some 400 million years ago. The breath is our inner anchor and cycle that mirrors cycles in nature - ebb and flow of the tide, the wax and wane of the moon.
How do you embrace your own sense of womanhood?
I’ve only come to this in the last year, the importance of cultivating greater awareness of my menstrual cycle. As a woman entering my 30s it has shocked me that I’m only beginning to discover the power and wisdom that lies in understanding our own inner cycles. It was through another amazing woman I met last year, Ruby May who was doing an apprenticeship at the Red School that I’ve accessed a whole other way of learning about and experiencing my cycle. I see it as an incredible source of power and self- connection that was denied to me for so long because of how our society has oppressed these more powerful aspects of the feminine and made it this dirty, unspoken thing, or at best an inconvenience that must be endured.
I’m only just beginning to explore what this means in terms of my own energy and how to tap into the natural flows of energy in my cycle but already I feel the power of a more intimate connection between my body and the environment, the moon and the tides.
As living beings we’re all influenced by our environment and are affected by the cycles of night and day, the moon, the seasons… As women, we are gifted with an internal cycle – if we’d only been taught to better listen to our bodies. Our body tells us when it’s time to act and when it’s time to rest. I’m beginning to develop a greater awareness of my menstrual cycle in just this last year, and it has had a profound effect on my work-life balance and energy levels. It helps me understand my own inner ebb and flow, the high cost of always being ‘on’ in a society that rewards ‘being busy’, and the equally important need for stillness and reflection.
This is the focus of a new short film I’ve made with film-maker Andrew Kaineder called A Lunar Cycle. It won best edit at the Irish Surf Film festival this year and will be released in September.
Is there an inspiring/empowering poem or quote that you could share with us?
I love this description from one of the women who was part of our Be Like Water programme in Iran, which promotes positive body-awareness and connection, of what the sea means to her, It’s purity. The sea is honest. It is truth, without discrimination. It may be vicious, it may be calm but it’s always honest about how it is. - Fereshteh, ‘Surfing Mum’ from Chabahar, 2016
The Lunar Cycle made with film maker Andrew Kaineder can be found here - it is a powerful exploration of a synodic month from a female perspective, fusing Easkey’s beautiful words and her body’s movement through water and on land in the most epic landscape.
To find out more about what Easkey is getting up to head on over to her website