Fig.1: Nic Shonfeld, 2021, St Piran's Cross, Penhale Sands - Contact Sheet Scan

I walked through the dunelands behind Perranporth beach and finally found St Piran's Oratory. St Piran was a 5th-century Cornish abbot and is considered to be the patron saint of Cornwall and buried in the dunes are the ancient remains of an oratory established by the monk. The tiny oratory has been excavated and is now surrounded by an unsightly, but necessary, modern breezeblock structure to stabilise it. Close to the chapel is a peculiar cross, peculiar because it appears unfinished - it only has three holes (fig.2 left). I was attracted to this because not only is it linked to this oratory, a place of solitary spiritual reflection, it also ties into my project because of its incompleteness. Incompleteness is one of three principles in wabi-sabi (with impermanence and imperfection) that is underpinning the context of my work.

Fig.1: Nic Shonfeld, 2021, St Piran's Cross, Penhale Sands

I became confused when I was taking the full-length image seen in fig.2 (left); I felt like I was taking a portrait of the monument and as such felt like the message from the photo was becoming more about St. Piran than the metaphor I was using it for. Also, the cross appears 'manicured by human hand - there are other plants growing at its base which although I can't be sure, weren't in harmony with the rest of the natural terrain, I felt like they had been planted there. I tried to photograph a detail image of the head of the cross but it was impossible to fit all the cross-holes in the frame without also revealing the sky behind it. It didn't feel like a photo I would take. I photographed the surface of the monument to join my growing collection of patinas.