A Brief Contemplation on Sir Thomas Browne. Display of hand made artist's books

Sir Thomas Browne

Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682) was a Norfolk-based doctor, polymath and author. Herman Melville owned several of Browne’s books and admired his work and his whimsical writing style, which influenced Melville’s own style. Browne wrote about sperm whales in his myth busting book Pseudodoxia Epidemica, Book of Vulgar Errors, (1646) having seen a sperm whale stranded on the coast of Norfolk. …

Exhibition at Carriage House Gallery, Burton Constable Hall 2019

Pulling the British Threads in Moby-Dick

Prints, artists books and textile work inspired by the British sources Melville used in Moby-Dick When the curator at Burton Constable suggested I return to the Carriage House Gallery with an exhibition to celebrate Herman Melville’s 200th Birthday I knew I had to do something that would appeal to non-readers of Moby-Dick, but would be for me an interesting and …

Verdant Works Exhibition Display case and works

The Arctic Whaling Year

I’m just back from an amazing trip to Dundee for the installation and opening of my exhibition ‘The Arctic Whaling Year’ at the Verdant Works.  The exhibition has been over a year in the making, but much, much longer in gestation.   As I have been researching British Arctic Whaling I have pondered the idea of doing a series of work …

The Right Whale Historically Regarded

Right Whales Historically Regarded

This is one of the pieces made for the Verdant Works Exhibition ‘The Arctic Whaling Year’, Autumn 2018.  The Arctic whalers main target were the right whales, Eubalaena glacialis.  These were the ‘right’ whales to hunt because they had thick oil-rich blubber and had long baleen.  The long baleen plates sieved out small shrimp  and other food from huge mouthfuls of seawater. …

Jute

Jute

This is one of the pieces in the Verdant Works Exhibition ‘The Arctic Whaling Year’, Autumn 2018.  Blubber from the whales was chopped up and placed in barrels on the ship and brought back to the home post to be processed.  The processing involved boiling the blubber to separate the valuable oil, which was stored and sold in barrels.  In …

Beset

Beset

This is one of the pieces in the Verdant Works Exhibition ‘The Arctic Whaling Year’, Autumn 2018.  One of the great perils of Arctic whaling was getting trapped in the ice and either having the ship destroyed by being crushed by the ice, or being trapped in the ice and having to overwinter in the harsh cold and darkness, isolated …

The Whaling Grounds

The Whaling Grounds

This is one of the pieces in the Verdant Works Exhibition ‘The Arctic Whaling Year’, Autumn 2018.  British Arctic Whaling started around the 1600s after sailors sailing up into the Arctic north of Norway for walrus discovered large numbers of whales in the bays around Spitsbergen.  At the time it was thought that Spitsbergen was connected to, and part of, …

Stoved!

Stoved!

This is one of the pieces in the Verdant Works Exhibition ‘The Arctic Whaling Year’, Autumn 2018.  Early, non-industrialised whaling was a dangerous activity.  When lookouts on a whaling ship saw a whale, the whaling boats were lowered and quietly rowed towards the whale. These boats were smaller than the whales they were hunting and whalers had to approach a …

Cape Farewell

Cape Farewell

This is one of the pieces in the Verdant Works Exhibition ‘The Arctic Whaling Year’, Autumn 2018.  Whalers were as superstitious as any other sailors and had many rituals which they observed.  They also amended rituals for the circumstances they found themselves in. A good example of this is the crossing the line ceremony. This is traditionally an initiation for …

Sealing

Sealing

This is one of the pieces in the Verdant Works Exhibition ‘The Arctic Whaling Year’, Autumn 2018.  As whaling decreased the populations of whales, the whalers hunted other marine mammals to maintain their profitability.  Seal skins were a valuable commodity and to maximise the economic return, whaling ships could leave earlier from British ports, pick up men from places like …