by Ray Caesar
“Tainted” – Solo Exhibition of Ray Caesar
Tainted by the Sea
In the summer of 1966, my family took a road trip to Cornwall and it was the first time I placed my foot in the sea. I had been to Brighton a few times but for some reason I didn’t think that counted. We had recently been informed by the British educational system that all life sprang from the ocean, and all the pink bits on the map were part of the Empire, and that we had better not forget it. My brother had warned me of a drop in the sandbank where the water became very deep past a point, but I ignored him as was my usual practice in those green salad days. Walking out into the ocean, I dropped like a stone and the sea swallowed me up as if it was waiting for me…as if I was returning home and it was claiming back what was rightfully its property and part of its Empire. I began swallowing sea water, but soon I was swimming under the depths with no need to breath and floating in a wonderful brilliant blue realm of incredible coloured sea plants that was glorious and magical. I can still remember the absolute beauty till this very day. Then I was back on the beach coughing up brine and spewing out seawater through my mouth and nose and eyes and lungs. Unbeknownst to me, my brother was frantically searching after seeing me go under, had finally found me sinking into darkness and dragged me to the surface by the hair on my head. I don’t know how long I was gone, or if I had died and come back from some deathly realm, or if the life I am living now is just a fiction of the one I lost….all I know is that my life had changed and I possessed an awareness and a sense of difference as if that initiation was the first day of a new life. I was tainted by that infinite sea and its salty taste has never left me and still saturates my very soul. If I didn’t belong to it before, I certainly did now and the sea never gives up what it wants to possess. Each night I sink again into my dreams and drag back fragments from the salty brine and depths of my own subconscious sea, and on rare occasions, seemingly connect to what I can only think of as the superconscious. The vast ocean depth is patient and it awaits all of us to return and swim in its brilliant blue realm but I am aware of its patience too, and I am in no hurry.