Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Sea Inside

Philip Hoare in the my work last year.
With apologies.
Philip Hoare's "The Sea Inside" was published this Summer.  As he's from Southampton...  and the book is about the sea and Southampton...  and Southampton is all about the sea...  and illustrators are all about the sea...  a project came about, involving the school of art at Southampton.

(Last year, when I hadn't met him, I included him in the "writers" section of my "People Of Southampton" piece.  It's not a great likeness.  I gave him the tail of the whale, for his celebrated book "Leviathan - or The Whale")

The exhibition came together in time for the start of the new student year, but it began in March or April.  It was a bit hush-hush at first, because the book wasn't out yet.  We had excerpts to work from...  I'll give you the description from the exhibition:

The Suburban Sea is a collaborative art project between three organisations:  Red Hot Press, Southampton's Open Access Print Workshop; Southampton Solent University's Unsinkable Press and Students at Norges Kreative Fagskole in Oslo, Norway.

Taking inspiration from the opening chapter of The Sea Inside by Philip Hoare, artists from each organisation were asked to respond on a single sheet of Somerset Paper.  This was then passed on to the next organisation and given to an artist or student to work on again - this time responding to both the initial extracts of the book and the work that was now on the paper.  After the second artist had worked on the paper it was passed on again.

It proved to be an interesting and, at times, challenging project asking artists to work blind, to challenge their existing practice and to explore new mediums of working.

We hope that you like the results.

My "first layer" of a collaborative piece.

"Working blind" really is a strange challenge - leaving space for the next artist, who might respond differently, and hoping that they wouldn't obscure what I'd done.  Working on top of someone else's layer was even harder.

I picked the excerpt that described swimming in Southampton Water (he does it every day), and fleshed it out with vignettes of life on the waves:
"The water is so clear it scares me.  Fish jump up as though they'd dropped out of the clouds.  Everything is rising to the surface, summoned by the light, slowed to the sea's heartbeat.  The water brims like an overrun bath.  I push out through the stillness of the standing tide, my hands creating the only ripples."

The piece on the wall with another layer on top.

Only at the exhibition / start-of-term celebration did I get to see what happened.  Some of the pieces (including two more that I worked on) had three or four layers.  My first had only one layer on top, which I'm pretty sure is Jonny Hannah's work.

Experimental illustration from Southampton School Of Art & Design!

A few of the collaborations in the exhibition.

Look at Philip Hoare's blog - Leviathan Or The Whale.

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