Diving

Poetics of Space

Diving in the Persian Gulf (out of Bahrain). In 1989 as a scuba diver I saw enormous corals in varying states of destruction. They were bleached white and appeared  devoid of life – bizarre skeletal ghosts vague testimonial monuments to once flourishing activity. Some time later in 2020 and I understand that such bleaching of the corals is possibly due to global warming and the rise in sea temperatures

In 1999 at The Slade School of Fine Art I made a large sculptural installation called The Gut – Keeping On. This sculpture was inspired by some of my surreal memories under the sea

Fine multi-coloured crepe paper was chosen for construction. During process water used to make the plaster bled into the tissues. Over the next week the gradual change intensified as the rainbow coral continued to grow in space. Wax was a large part of the sculpture and the wax in contrast displayed the quality of containment of liquid seepage into neighbouring tissue spaces. The Gut – Keeping On was drawn and constructed in a space fortunate to benefit from a mezzanine  and the audience were able to look over from above and down onto the coral ridge inspired sculpture (evoking personal memories of the sensation of flying over coral ridges, supported in space by water)

The sense of immense space and also the simultaneous recognition that the personal space of the diver is intimately enclosed and distinctly different from expansive space. Diving demands complete centredness in the moment and whilst one is acutely aware of the self is also totally emersed and at one with everything else at the same time. The closer one is to the surface and dependent on other variables such as visibility, sunlight bathes the elusive depths of the ocean in delicious acceptance and celebration. A small window in Intimate Immensity (2001) reflects the recognition of the necessity to remain focused and study detail whilst retaining awareness of the expansive quality and nature of being under the water. The multi-layered casting of fragile layers of wax over the top of the form simulation of the relationship of light through and onto the forms below the surface and also the notion of weight and the sense of weightfulness of volume of ocean above the individual

The labour intensive casting of the individual wax layers was in large part, a dedication to the processes of minute development and tenacious determination over time, implicit and common to life; continuation. The siting on the welded steel form (painted silver to play with the notion of sunlight through blue) as a bed support structure attempted to indicate the interplay and interdependence of systems and a potential reflection on maintenance, rupture and disruption. Intimate Immensity enabled the audience to walk in the blue space and under the layered form. People (usually adults rather than children) touched the wax and in its fragility broke and fell. Between each layer was placed a single fresh red rose. These changed over time with degeneration and the viewer asked to look closely to see beauty, albeit in process of change. The request to look was repeated in the use of the small mask-sized window device cut into the side of the sculpture

Process continues and life goes on. Recognising and attempting to capture futile. Plaintive creative efforts manifest sculpture, song and theatre, paltry mimetic or transformational. Akin, to other high risk endeavours diving demands the management of heightened states of emboldened omnipotent exhilaration whilst retaining the potential imminence of error and death and spaces pausing between to awe and enjoy

Cradle and Cloud were accompanying pieces in the installation Intimate Immensity

Refer to Portfolio sections 1999 and 2001 respectively to view The Gut – Keeping On and Intimate Immensity

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