Storm Drawings


Toured with Cape Farewell’s Unfold exhibition, most recently exhibited at John Moores University, Liverpool, 8 March – 26 April 2012.
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“The challenge of making a visual diary that captured the unique experience of sailing through a remote part of the world, preoccupied and inspired me. I experimented with various ways of recording our journey from Svalbard to Greenland; eroding suspended plaster blocks in the ocean behind the ship; burning card with a large lens that tracked the ships movement in relation to the sun; allowing a small ball covered with ink to roll over paper soaked in seawater.

The journey from Svalbard to Greenland was calculated to take four or five days although weather warnings before we set sail indicated conditions weren’t great and that there was a possibility that a huge area of sea ice had broken up from the Arctic ocean and was being swept south by strong winds.

As it was, we arrived in Greenland after nine grueling days of sailing. Although I had undertaken a few voyages with Cape Farewell and had developed ‘sea legs’, I don’t think I, or any of us were prepared for such a rough ride. The exhaustion, stress and fear was palpable.

I wanted to find an unpredictable way to document the wild bucking and rolling of the ship. The idea came to set up a tray that could contain an ink-soaked ball and allow this to roll backwards and forwards in reaction to the ship’s erratic movements. Constructing a makeshift waterproof tray was relatively easy to do but trying to find a ball on the boat was not! Eventually, I found that some of the ship’s light bulbs could be made into spheres by breaking the metal attachment off one end and removing the filament. I was able to fill the hollow with plaster, and when hard, crack and pick the glass off.

After trying various consistencies of ink I realized that by soaking the paper in seawater the tracks that were left by the ball’s movement became subtler and more evocative. The storm grew in intensity and as night fell we seemed to be in a very dark place. I had brought with me some luminous paint and using the same set-up produced another series of drawings that glowed with the same quality of light as the Northern Lights that shifted and flowed overhead, glimpsed very occasionally through cracks in the blackened sky.

Eventually the storm subsided and by dawn we finally saw the coast of Greenland – a truly beautiful sight! The storm had passed, the sky had cleared and the sun was rising, illuminating the most exquisite enormous icebergs I have ever seen. The sense of rebirth after one hell of a journey was intoxicating! We finally and gratefully made shore a few hours later.”
(Dan Harvey)

From Cape Farewell’s 2007 Art/Science Expedition.
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