Saturday, 8 August 2009

Aurora in Erdopolis

Cube in the Square Gallery.
Aug 2009

Friday, 3 October 2008

A VERY BIG THANK YOU... everyone for their participation in and support of Claudia Losi's Balena project.

We are aiming to show our whale work again at Rookery House on Saturday 18th of October (from 12.00) as a continuation of the project whilst Claudia's exhibition is running at the Ikon/Mailbox and also to raise awareness of the plight of the house itself which is due to be closed up at the end of October with it's fate hanging in the balance.

We would very much welcome your company for art, tea, music, biscuits, discussion, cake, and artcake.

See u anon


Tuesday, 23 September 2008

The demise of the Aurora?

In the event Claudia directs the whales to drag the boat "ashore" and no life is lost.

Aurora and the whale

Mailbox Birmingham 22 09 08

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Pics 21 09 08

Pics 21 09 08

Pull to windward!

21 09 08
Pt 7

The Sail and Jib are a work of art in themselves and a couple of emails to Bluejacket have been neccasary to clear up some confusion over plan details. Thanks to Suzi for her assistance. So the morning of 20 09 08 has seen the final fitting completed, setting up the sails with strengthening pieces, bolt rope, reef ropes, tieing on the mast, boom and gaff and rigging them to the boat. The rudder has been painted to match the colour scheme and line tubs fitted inside the vessel. I have to admit to leaving out a few small items due to time constraints (piggin, water breaker and lantern keg) so the crew will have to go thirsty in the dark!

I have tried to photograph as many details of construction as possible and this has amounted to quite a lot of pics which I will edit and publish here as and when.

So, the Aurora is set up and ready to run. Right now (Sun morning) she is within the circle surrounded by wooly whales on my work table just waiting for the last few photos before packing up for transportation to the gallery tomorrow. What fate awaits her is yet to be determined. I can only hope for fair weather and a calm sea, though I fear mightily for her safety.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Fun with Ropes and Lines

A little improv' going on here as the plans are a bit confusing with regard to the sails etc!

Circle of Life

Cloth purchased from Wilton Market, Erdo.
Process Cyan acrylic courtesy Rob Y. 2nd coat.

"Trimming" the sheets

Tracing Sail and Jib outlines onto sailcloth using the lightbox.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Sizing the Circle

I guess a Dia' of 1 yard would be appropriate.

Whales Ho!

Pt 6
17 09 09

Pretty much on the last leg now. Just waiting for Bluejacket to get back to me regarding a query over the construction of the sails/rigging. I have had to make a slight revision in my plans as it's not going to be possible to paint my circle on the floor of the Mailbox space where Claudia's whale is being exhibited. So, I shall endeavour to track down some canvas (or similar) and make the roundel portable/temporary. Emma from Ikon has agreed this will be suitable and I'm looking forward to Mon 22nd when it all kicks off.

All that remains is to fit the sails & lines (mast, boom and gaff now constructed) , make the killing lance (harpoon made: see below) add harpoon racks, apply final coats of paint/varnish and add a nameplate to the port bow then she's ready to set sail!

The Immortal Dawn

Aurora now had left her saffron bed,
And beams of early light the heav'ns o'erspread,
When, from a tow'r, the queen, with wakeful eyes,
Saw day point upward from the rosy skies.

Virgil - The Aeneid

Monday, 15 September 2008

On the Wall @ Artsfest.

Whales visit Birmingham Council House.

Cast off!

Pt 5
10 - 15 09 08

Oarlocks, Harpoon Crotch and Rudder fitted and the mast has been raised. Much thought about ways to disable the boat: Oars lost o'board, rudder broken, capsize and broken mast, holed below the waterline. It needs to be damage that would sink the boat so really she needs to be broken a'midships in a way that could be inflicted by a whale so... perhaps a hammer blow to the hull!

Ikon have indicated that we could meet with Claudia on the 22nd so 5 days to finish building the Aurora!

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Oar Aura 01

The boat won't be ready for Artsfest so here's a scuptural assemblage featuring the Aurora's oars which will act as a stand in.

Oar Aura 02

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Hell yeah, remember Aurora

I name this vessel Aurora.

May *** bless her and all who sail in her.

Belay there!

Pt 4
07 09 08

Things have moved on somewhat since Pt 3 and quite a lot of small details have been added: thwarts, fore deck, cuddy deck, clumsy cleat, raising rods, lions tongue, loggerhead, bow rails, steering oar brace, oarlock pads, rear standing cleats, steering oarsmans foot brace and a cleat to tie off from the steering oar brace. Phew! As I say only small details but quite a bit of work. Cramming all this in between working away in Evesham and making plans for Birmingham Artsfest (where I hope to show the piece as a work in progress)

The next really fiddly bit is to cut lengths of reed to affix to the thwarts. These parts are called knees and they are used by the oarsmen to brace themselves against (I think) I have also constructed the steering oar and it's very satisfyiing to make this small detail accurately (another five oars to go)

I have decided on a colour scheme and 'though Blue Jackets instructions state that this type of boat would invariably be painted white below the rubbing strips I am going against this and as well as using Cyan to paint the blue circle which the boat and whales will be displayed on the boat itself will be Magenta (outer hull), Yellow (inner planking, ceiling and thwarts etc) and Black (gunwhales, rubbing strips outer hull upper) which ties in with another series of work currently in development:

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Sunday, 31 August 2008


Auspicious date.

Aye Aye Skipper!

Pt 3
30 - 31 08 08

Having spent the last week in Bristol (which allowed the opportunity to see some boats, not least of which was the recreation of John Cabot's ship The Matthew) I'm back for more boat building.
Completed fitting of internal planking and applied two more coats of white acrylic to inner and outer hull. Just before I went away had time to construct the centre board housing which will also get a coat of paint before fixing. Next stage is to cut the many frame heads and fit them between the riser and gunwale along each side of the upper internal hull then add the thwarts (on which the oarsmen would sit) Ah!, first need to fit two small sections of decking that come as individual laser cut parts...

...grrrrrrrrrrr! All very fiddly. Have some lunch and think about it.

Monday, 25 August 2008

In consideration of...

...the scuptural qualities of the boat.

Yo Ho Ho!

25 08 08.

The outer hull is pretty much complete. Soaked and fitted garboards and upper planking, left to dry and then seams filled with automotive filler (Upol D). This was then sanded smooth with 80 grit and then 360 grit paper.
Bluejacket recomend using Testors paints which aren't easily available in the UK so I'm gonna use acrylic. Applied 2 coats of thin white acrylic to the outside of the hull and then sanded back.
Fitted keel, false stems, guard and rubbing strips to outside of hull and then gunwales to inner top edges. It's starting to look like a boat! Next up is the inner planking or "ceiling" which entails cutting all the planks to size from the supplied basswood strips. Pretty damned fiddly by the look of things.

Saturday, 23 August 2008


Building the New Bedford Whale boat
Pt 1.
23 08 08

Well the kit has arrived and on inspection I'm feeling that I've bitten off rather more than I can chew! Oh well in for a penny in for £65.00 (incl' post and packing)

Ticked off all the parts against the checklist and all seems in place. Looking at the plans and instructions it clear this is going to be quite a challenge. There's a bit of interpretive licence required and some new techniques such as soaking some of the basswood planking to fit. Lots of boating lingo and part names also: garboards, keelson, cuddy deck, lions tongue, loggerhead, thwarts and cleats etc.

My immediate feeling is that with all the work needed to build the boat I shall be reluctant to send it to its destruction on its maiden voyage. Hmm, should I be referring to "it" as "she"? But that's all part of the process, creating something for a specific purpose and then suffering a sense of loss when it is destroyed. I hope that in some small way this will emulate the feeling of watching the boats put out to sea on a whaling expedition not knowing if they will return.

Sourced the recomended glue (medium cyanoacrylate) from Maplins and set to work. Firstly assembled the building board and fitted the keelson to the stem and sternposts. Also made some sanding boards using self adhesive 3M sanding disc paper on foam board.

Next is to soak the garboards (having marked centres etc in pencil) and fit them along the keelson and around bevelled edges of stem and stern posts. Here goes!

Monday, 30 June 2008

Project Proposal 01

I have a bit of a thing about Herman Melville.

We share a birthday (1st Aug)

& I’ve tried reading Moby Dick on two occasions and struggled to engage.

I have a bit of a thing about coincidence/synchronicity, especially when it is tenuous.

I was watching a clip from the 1956 version of Moby Dick on YouTube the other day and there's a great line:

Capt Ahab (Gregory Peck)
Did yer see him lads? Did yer see his hump like a great
snow hill?

In the UK Birmingham is about as far as you can get from the sea. What with the melting ice caps and all that I find some comfort in this distance. I remember, at about the age of 10, staring out to sea on the front at Bridlington one chilly Easter and having my first real sense of awe at the power of nature. The anthracite grey of the restless waves reflecting a sky of equal tonal depth seeming to stretch out and away forever towards an indiscernable horizon.

The piece I will be making consists essentially of two parts. Firstly the construction of a small sculptural assemblage consisting of a blue circle painted on the floor on which are arranged a series of toy woollen whales knitted by my mom Jillian Hope.

The mini whales will surround a centrally placed scale model of a New Bedford whale boat constructed by myself from a kit purchased from Blue Jacket Models of Searsport Maine.

After a short time part two will take place. I will invite Claudia to destroy (or "disable") the boat by stepping up on deck as a symbolic action with the obvious links to issues regarding whaling as well as being an expression of feminine energy. One essay on Moby Dick considers the notion of the White Whale symbolising the void or a sense of unknowing. I wish to allow the Goddess into that space also.

All these activities will be photographed, videoed and blogged.

Simon Hope May 08