The offending stone
My daughter Rose has reached the age when children start to explore their identity by deciding how ‘weird’ they want to be. Her best friend, a bright little button who’s good at EVERYTHING, announced recently that she has Dyspraxia. I find it hard to believe, but am sorry if that is the case, because if she’s anything like Rose she will accidentally knock her drink across the table EVERY time she goes to a restaurant, or even every time she has a drink.

So Rose declared recently that she has Trypophobia. This is a new one on me. Google says that it is the irrational fear of holey things, like the seed-head of the lotus or barnacles on a rock. I was reminded of this at the weekend when I found a pebble on the beach at Fraisthorpe and absent-mindedly held it out for her to see. It had one large hole and lots of tiny ones all over it where microscopic sea creatures had burrowed. She took it from me but handed it swiftly back shuddering in disgust. I LOVE stones like this. We are opposites!

It got me thinking about holes… (Not in a pervy way.) Ever since I was literally knee-high to a grasshopper, growing up in Kuala Lumpur I’ve loved seeking out the tiny holes made by animals. One of my earliest memories is of tracking a long line of ants back to a sandy hole in the bank of our drive in Ukay Heights. In 1970’s Malaysia, cartoons were only on TV for an hour in the afternoon, and the digital entertainment revolution was still decades away, so I think I spent whole days (pardon the pun) just sitting and watching ants. 


The beaches of the west coast of Malaysia are home to millions of miniature crabs that emerge from their moist little holes at low tide to sift through the sand, depositing tiny balls of sucked sand in neat rows radiating from the hole at the centre. As you walk along the beach they scuttle home en masse to wait till you’ve passed. This was a source of pure delight for me as a child.

Later, when we came home to the UK, I would accompany my parents on antique hunting forays, scouring cobweb-swathed shops along the Kent coast, where I learnt to look for the perfect little round piercings in pine pews and oak beams; a giveaway sign that a wicked woodworm lurks within.

Taking up beekeeping in my early 30’s I was thrilled by the perfection of honey comb, and the imperfection of protruding queen cells that are built when the hive is planning mutiny. At Allerthorpe Common on dry summer mornings, you can watch the tiny holes in the path give birth to the solitary bees that live in sandy hermitages beneath your feet.

On Sunday, picnicking on the North Sea coast I watched  sand martins burst from the low cliffs like bullets from the barrel of a gun, and marvelled at how they remember which of the many holes marks the entrance to their own cosy burrow.

Then there’s the corals and chalky skeletons of tiny underwater monsters pockmarked to perfection that catch my beachcombers eye and come home with me in gritty pockets. A glass tank filled with these, collected from Langkawi, Paxos and Cape Verde sits on the windowsill of our family bathroom. I wonder how Rose copes?

The beach at Dane’s Dyke, north of Bridlington is littered with sea-smoothed flat chalk pebbles most of which are pierced through with uncannily regular holes, and we like to stack them in graduated monoliths for the next passer-by to knock down.

Spying on Sarah
through a
Hepworth hole
Today I ventured West with a good friend, to visit the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield, and I was delighted by the holes in Barbara Hepworth’s sculptures. Here they create tension or balance, passing through the sleek and bulky abstract forms that she created in stone, steel, plaster and wood. Her library of reference books revealed a fascination with the organic forms of plants and flowers, and some of her work reminded me of skeletal structures like the pelvis where the femur sits snugly into the hip socket. Her workbench and tools form part of the exhibition where fragments of discarded stone showed how she drilled a series of holes to perforate the medium in order to extract large sections from the centre of a piece.

At this point I should perhaps apologise to anyone who has been hitherto unaware of a deep-seated case of Trypophobia that has now surfaced after all this talk of holes. In my defence, I do believe aversion therapy can be very helpful, but if you need a break, read on.

Contented hours drifted by at the Hepworth as we enjoyed looking deep into the vivid brushstrokes of Howard Hodgkin’s India inspired works, (although some of these prompted mixed responses including infantile sniggering). And in between all this serious art we enjoyed just gazing out of the great picture windows at the rushing waters of the river Calder as it passed over the wide weir below, and at the rows of arched red brick warehouse windows boarded up in smart black.

The whole gorgeous slate grey edifice of The Hepworth, designed by David Chipperfield, (who sounds more like a moustachioed ringmaster than a shiny London Architect), houses superb learning facilities, a conference centre, a trendy cafe, swish modern loos, and of course a very cool shop, where my lovely friend bought me a hand-stitched stick of rhubarb to wear with Yorkshire pride on my lapel. (Helen Riddle, Textile Artist). Entrance to the gallery is free and it comes highly recommended.



An architect designed garden bee house. Available to buy at The Hepworth Gallery Shop
Having said that I love all things holey, there is one texture I do not enjoy: Although I share it with my beautiful mother, and also Helena Christensen, I have spent my life wishing for ‘peachy skin’ instead of ‘open pores’, so I am excited about the imminent arrival of a parcel from Beauty Pie containing Fruitzyme Five Minute Facial, which India Knight says is a miracle in a tube, reducing the size of pores and giving you a fresh smooth youthful glowing complexion! 

Read my next blog to see how I get on.

#trypophobia #holes #hepworth #sculpture #wakefield #rhubarb #coral #burrows #yorkshiredaysout





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: