“Our boats become our women; our women, vessels of magic, become our boats.”

Lee, Rona (2013) “Our boats become our women; our women, vessels of magic, become our boats.”. In: Fourth International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Emotional Geographies, 1-3 July 2013, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.

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Official URL: http://www.rug.nl/research/ursi/events/emospa/


This artist’s presentation will reflect on - the encircling of shadow - a body of interrelated ‘site responsive’ artworks made in 2001, which combined found material, video, performance, text and social engagement, shown in three different locations: Newlyn Art Gallery, Penlee House, Penzance and on the foreshore at Newlyn, Cornwall (population 1,400 and the largest fishing port in England.

The Newlyn Art Gallery, who commissioned the work, was originally built to house works by the Newlyn School School of Painting, a substantial colony of plein air artists based there in the late 19th to early 20th century. A large and much loved public collection of their work is now held locally at Penlee House. The starting point for my enquiries was provided by the work of Walter Langley whose paintings frequently depict women standing at the edges of sea and shore.

Supported by six months of local research, involving differing environments archives, individuals and groups, (including Porthcurno Museum of Submarine Telegraphy, Trinity House Corporation, Morab Photographic Archive, Penlee House) and conducted using a range of inductive, participant, ethnographic and spatial methods the resulting work sought to ‘map’ a set of physical, cultural and gendered geographies of the liminal.

My paper will briefly:

Describe the works produced (see attached images)

Reference the key ‘emotional’ encounters, events and discoveries, such as a meeting with the coxswain of the local lifeboat whose father, also a lifeboat man, had died (along with the rest of the crew) attempting a rescue at sea or the discovery that over 75% of boats in the contemporary fishing fleet are named after women, that influenced the genesis of the work

Reflect on the artistic strategies / methods used within - the encircling of a shadow - such as its use of light and shadow and their capacity to:

• Elucidate and elicit differing subjectivities/emotions.

• Embody the physically and socially transitional nature of coastal environments

• Articulate an emotional geography of departure and return, safety and danger, desire and loss, adventure and confinement, homely and foreign, masculine and feminine,

• Understand coastal zones as spaces in which material, symbolic and physiological boundaries are both drawn and become porous

• Reflect on the ways in which critically engaged artistic methodologies might offer means of responding to the emotional charge of coastal climate change

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: L700 Human and Social Geography
W100 Fine Art
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Arts
Depositing User: Rona Lee
Date Deposited: 22 Nov 2013 16:44
Last Modified: 04 Nov 2019 12:20
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/14698

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