Engraving of Horn Sound from Scoresby's An Account of the Arctic Regions

Spitsbergen 2019

The waters around Spitsbergen are where British Arctic Whaling began. I first visited Spitsbergen (one of the islands in the Svalbard Archipelago north of Norway  in 2012 and despite a busy summer schedule I managed to visit again in the summer of 2019. I sailed from Dover, up the North Sea with a couple of stops in Norway on the …

The Leviathanic Museum (Hull), Textile

The Leviathanic Museum (Hull)

In Chapter 102 of Moby-Dick Ishmael discusses the size of sperm whales and he uses one fictional and one real example (the sperm whale skeleton at Burton Constable) for his measurements. He also explains that ‘there are skeleton authorities you can refer to’ in order to test his accuracy. There is a Leviathanic Museum, they tell me, in Hull, England, …

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 …