Aesthetics, in a shipyard

It’s been awhile, a long old while dear. Once again I must blame time at sea for this absence, however to lay fault with such an indulgence would be nothing but a sin.

           In fact, if anything, this year I have solidified my practice as a sailor more than as an artist, and strangely do not mind a bit. Each significantly informs the other and each day I become more entwined as one person in my daily practice, rather than a person split between two such separate worlds. Such a revelation also comes with a new chapter, as for the time being I have left my home base of West Cornwall and am working in a shipyard in Maine, Northeast America. Which is, incidentally, without doubt one of the most beautiful places I have ever laid eyes upon, however, uprooting to the Americas at this time has inevitably lead me to thinking about the reality of deciding to pursue a career in sailing in 2017, and as a woman.

Last years winter project and Summer charge, Pinuccia is an international eight metre owned by the Hotel Tresanton in St Mawes to whom I tended over two seasons and three winters. Where the work was rarely glamorous but was oh so rewarding.  Sawn Oak beams and steamed Elm frames, copper fastenings ( for the most part) with Mahogany planking form these glorious curving lines. The devil is in the detail when all eyes are watching.... 

These vast, curving lines which materialise before us, and the promise that each shape holds, insights an affection in the worker bees that hack and carve, sculpting out form. Beauty becomes a thing of great importance. Yet I am not going to pretend that it is always easy,  there are definitely times when beauty being a thing of great importance has its downside……

A shipyard is a place of significant anthropological interest, though given the maritime industries fairly significant antiquity and agenda,  this may seem somewhat unsurprising. It’s hierarchical conflicts, are testosterone fuelled to a chorus of power tools and as the sawdust settles I quietly observe. I feel sure it has always been this way,  for close to five years I have worked in and out of these rogue places, filled with the grunts of men, wrestling rust and corrosion. Seafarers and shipwrights by default seem to be those with a glint in their eyes and a certain flair for bending the rules and there are times that I wonder how the hell I ended up working in this bizarre and backwards industry, when to remain gracious and polite feels impossible and the desire to scream is almost deafening. When the need to unpick generations of gender sweeping stereotyping feels an unbearable and unjust burden, when, after all you just want to get on with your job. . .

I have wondered for sometime about whether to to write freely about my experiences as a women in the maritime world, in comparison to many other sectors of humanity we have it so easy. But thats the thing about sexism isn't it? Many people don't even consider it exists in our current western climate, the off hand comments slip under the radar as they have little tangible impact. However, I would perhaps argue that these cumulative notions, the commentary upon your strength, fitness, and physical well being in comparison to your male counter part, have the ability, over time, to grind one down just as far as out right open sexism. I do not pretend to be any stronger or more macho than I actually am. I do not feel I have something to prove, I know what I am capable of and this, often allows the assumption that "I am here as the cook" to wash over me without impact. But sometimes I wonder, in this year, in 2017. In an industry in which women have proven themselves capable in for hundreds of years, this is still deemed by many to be acceptable, a path of the cause? We respect our Sea, we respect our ships. Whats left is to respect our She- Captains.

 

Compagnia Imago

Believe me when I say, that the irony of my photographic tendencies, and their roots in the plastic and celluloid, is not lost on me. However, I am afraid that I am an analogue junkie and it is a habit that I do not seem to be able to shake. 

 Hence, whilst trolling the internet and sliding upon the kickstarter campaign of Italian company "Compagnia-Imagio and their bid to produce beautiful, sustainable reels for their 35mm film rolls. I could not resist chewing their ears off to send me some just in time to head to Brazil. Those boys obliged and I took a bunch of their lovely film to sea with me, here are some of the snaps.........

 

Where the actual film stock is of course still plastic, the canisters themselves are made of either bamboo, coconut or just recycled wood with bio-plastic stoppers on the ends. The aim here is to find a balance between the sustainable and the celluloid, the old and the new. As we hunt for this sustainable future for the visual arts, this balanceing act will continue to rear its head. 

check them out the full range at http://www.compagniaimago.com