Hanging on: In Limpet Limbo

This ‘lockdown’ often feels like we are just hanging on.
In some kind of peculiar limbo.

I found myself fascinated by the barnalces on the beach on my daily walk the other day.
I found a stunning, completely barnacled, empty, limpet. A gift.
I was moved by it’s pearly interior contrasting with it’s crusted, alive, exterior.

It made me wonder about us all, perhaps, just hanging onto a dying reality…letting go and letting the tide take us where it will.
I felt some kind of a connection with my love of lichens too.
Lifeforms that grow on other lifeforms, without ever taking from them.
Just using them for support.

Perhaps we could evolve to be like that too? I wondered.

The prompt from the weekly, local, ‘lockdown’, art challenge was ‘all things sea’ so I broke out some of my less used mediums and attempted to draw it.

by kat robertson artist
Barnacled Limpet

I also found this unusual pair of fused oysters on this shore walk.
Both shells were empty now.

Sticking together in the big wild ocean.
Forming connections.
Hanging on to each other.

I began seeing more and more barnacles as I tuned into them.
They were everywhere. Hanging onto the rocks, onto the seaweed.
Each a perfect mini-fortress with it’s own intricate ‘door’/mouth system.
Each individual in it’s own kind of independant ‘lockdown’, yet remaining connected, part of the colony.
A colony defined by it’s host structure.

Sometimes that could be a whale. Or an ocean cruiser.
They travel, while staying completely still, these creatures.

Like us on planet Earth, moving through wider space.

On my return I did a bit more research.
It was then I learned that the limpet is also considered a ‘barnacle’.
And that there are around 1,220 types of barnacle.
That they are actually related to crabs and lobsters!

‘A barnacle is a type of arthropod constituting the infraclass Cirripedia in the subphylum Crustacea, and is hence related to crabs and lobsters.’

Also that not all of them are kind to their hosts.
Some are parasitic.

Fascinating creatures. 

You can learn more about them here.

Extinction Rebellion put out a suggestion for everyone to make little paper boats and either float them or hang them outside their houses.

I had five flyers left from last years fenzied distribuiton.
I made five wee boats.
No-one would see them here were we live.
So I sewed them together in a kind of prayer, using the left-over twine from the red thread action.

They made a magical, 5-petalled, flower!

Like the barnacles, moored together, to make something beautiful in all this chaos.

I hung it in the Gaia-Hut.

Stay safe. Stay connected. #Alonetogether.

Despite all my well-laid plans, (for getting out and about with this little, multi-functional, gallery/studio-on-wheels), this year being cancelled, I find I am quite grateful.
There is still much finishing work to be done on it.
And lots of Time to fill.

I will share progress some day soon in another post.


  1. Sheila Williamson

    Every day I learn something. Today about barnacles! Maybe we are barnacles that will learn to be symbiotic not parasitic.


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