Estuary Eulogies

At the end of November I visited the Thames Estuary site at Cliffe again. It was a cold Wintry day and magnificent for seeing the place in its harshness and greyness. I took a different pathway whilst there without a map and ended up seeing the seawall but not being able to navigate a way through due to the ditches that criss cross the place. I liked being reminded that this place is not easy, has geographical resistors and is not a visitor park with carefully laid down tracks. I spent time just gazing to industry laying heavily on the horizon with a fascinating collection of pipes/chimneys that were stacked together which I began to draw from. In front of me lay an apron of tough marsh grasses and then a smattering of these pipes poked up like a grand collection of organ pipes in a cathedral. Except these emitted no Bach, Mozart or Jeruselum. Far from a ‘green & pleasant land’ the marsh was soon subjecting my hands and body to the damp and ‘rimy’ cold. What I kept seeing though was the container ships and oil tankers entering and leaving the estuary. One in particular was piled so high with containers of every colour that I became intrigued upon what was inside the containers or what had been delivered. The sheer volume of commerce in one ship coming into the estuary was incredible. Our hunger for stuff, visually apparent.
Later I ventured back to the car and drove further up the marsh to access the seawall (a tried and tested route without watery traps). There I came across the remnants of consumption; finger prints of our capitalist obsession with possessions. Objects, intact and the remains of plastic and metal corpses lay scattered on this shoreline, brought up by tidal waters. A bereavement for short lives lived, for real lives sacrificed to fabricate these objects. I recorded individual pieces with a camera, plucking out and elevating objects that seemed especially poignant like the single mattress or just odd like the handle of a fire extinguisher.
When I came home to my studio, I reviewed the images from the camera. There seemed to me an immense beauty in some of these objects and their stripping away of manufactured gloss to reveal ugly materials like foam, nylon or plastic tubing. I began to imagine the brief period of use, the owners, the point of rejection when objects ceased to have value or use. I wanted to write obituaries for selected objects. Aiming to re-elevate these objects I wrote eulogies instead.
Each object was translated into a simple line drawing rendered by means of tracing paper on the computer screen. This seemed to me to remove sentiment or my own interpretations. I wanted to achieve a clinical kind of drawing. I’ve always like the Haynes car manuals and those wonderful diagrams of the casing for the gear box of a Vauxhall Viva or Mini Metro. I then wrote individual eulogies which accompany the drawings. If any emotion or sentiment is present then I wanted it to be through the words. Eulogies would celebrate these objects.

Digital drawing with hand drawn image.
21 x 29.9 cm

Digital drawing with hand drawn image.
21 x 29.9 cm

Digital drawing on tracing paper.

21 x 29.9 cm

Digital drawing on tracing paper.
21 x 29.9 cm

Digital drawing from hand drawn image.
21 x 29.9 cm

Digital drawing from hand drawn image.
21 x 29.9 cm

Digital drawing from hand drawn image.
21 x 29.9 cm

Digital drawing from hand drawn image.
21 x 29.9 cm

Digital drawing from hand drawn pencil image.
21 x 29.9

Digital drawing from hand drawn pencil image.
21 x 29.9

Digital drawing from hand drawn pencil image
21 x 29.9 cm

Digital drawing from hand drawn pencil image
21 x 29.9 cm

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