Before They Evaporate

SOMETIMES there are no words to translate a place into memory. At least, that is what English major Amelia Scott experienced during her spring 2019 study abroad in England. Students in the program, called British Literature and Landscape, study the literature of the British Isles while walking through the places that inspired it. One of the program directors, associate dean and professor Leslee Thorne-Murphy, noticed Scott’s particular preoccupation with capturing the sites visually.

“I had one student . . . who carried her watercolor paints and equipment with her wherever we went. She painted constantly, whenever we sat down for a few minutes, and so she created quite a collection of landscapes showing the various places we traveled.” This collection, which Scott called her mixed-media journal, was a mostly watercolor compendium. In the way that compendia summarize, in brief, larger works, Scott’s depictions in water and hue lay down not just the details or proportions of these landscapes but also strove to capture the feeling of the days as they slipped by.

Scott described her effort to distil her experience into tangible media using her limited art tools as follows. “The one I recall best is the docks in Boscastle, England. It was seven o’clock in the morning and our bus was leaving in an hour. So I sat on the cold, wet dock while the sun rose. I’d hoped to incorporate the light I saw shining off the stone and morning dew but only succeeded by bolding the lines with ink for a stained glass effect.” Like most artists, Scott shares the sense that she has not yet fully conveyed what she sees in her mind’s eye. She added, “There wasn’t nearly enough time spent in Boscastle, but it is one of the locations I remember most fondly and will definitely visit again.” In the meantime, she generously offers us this window into one student’s impressions of her time abroad.