The lightship LV21 is now transformed for this fascinating exhibition and provides many echoes from its seafaring history to inspire artists of today. These are just a few thoughts on a small selection of my personal favourites of the many works shown.
I enjoyed Caroline Gregory's 'Welcome aboard', and the camera taking us through the ship - all the different parts of the vessel, the brightly painted hull, the decks, the inside passageways, the portholes, the cabins no longer occupied by the sailors but now given over to artists. Mystery of a ship no longer at sea - its nautical architecture is inspirational - its previous life was in the water, but no longer, only the outward vestiges remain of what was once needed to survive in its former life.
- Sarah Sparkes is the puppeteer seen in the background of her film, pulling the strings of a light blue tiny dinosaur-like being, (from a heraldic image of the Azure Porcupine) - it has a quiff of upright little blue spines.
It is delightful to watch the little azure marionette figure dancing and playing round its small space inside the ship, and we enjoy the playfulness, and somehow long forgotten memories of our childhood are evoked - eventually in its wanderings it lights upon a large blue sculptured head, a kind of figurehead - with staring eyes, also with a quiff, though a larger and darker one with taller spines - the little one is playing and dancing again, this time trying to get attention and a response as it touches and moves closer and snuggles up to the head, wanting to play - the blue head is unresponsive - is it just an inanimate object, or is it its mother, strange rejecting mother, or is it just a stranger - and why does it not move in response - could it be - dead? Its continual non-response becomes very poignant. Eventually the litte azure figure flops down disconsolately and movement gradually stops. The whole event is mesmerising though it only lasts a few minutes. It touches the heart.
In the next film by Sarah she is seen wearing the large blue head!, transformed into a headdress and in its authentic role as figurehead of the ship - the artist walks along the deck and looks out from the prow - the large blue head is redeemed somehow and stands for adventure as it looks out to sea and the wide blue yonder and its infinite possibilities and we look out with it.
- Tracey Francis' films have a little girl collecting pebbles and stones - 'it's fun' she says, and we join in too, - but can it be fun for ever? - the stones build up and accumulate, so many stones have been gathered through the years and as she becomes a woman the stones become more heavy and weighty - 'The weight she has to carry' - responsibilities, sorrow, stresses - all carried somehow but not complaining - just carrying the stones - and then as the girl becomes an adult in society she takes part in political action to change the world - and share the load
- Joanna McCormick's eerie singing ghost makes strange sounds of lamentation aboard the ship, surrounded by the remembered images, now lovingly handmade into monoprints, of the sailors who were once there in person but where are they now - the shipmates have gone -quiet atmosphere inside of an abandoned ship - but there is still sound to be heard, beautiful tinkling piano music interspersed with the crashing of the waves, the ship has had its being faraway at sea, so far from land - the film drifts from the present to the past, and back again - is she waving or drowning?, did the mariners come safely home or were they lost at sea?
These are just my personal highlights,
Thank you so much to the curator and all the artists for a wonderful and deeply moving experience