That Oceanic Feeling investigates our relationship to the deep sea – the most remote and inaccessible environment on the planet.
The exhibition brings together new and recent works by British artist Rona Lee, developed whilst working at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, alongside geoscientists who use sonar to map the deepest and darkest parts of the earth.
Sea / Draw (10 Atlantic Days), 2009 is a series of ten plaster reliefs, based on drawings made by suspending a pen from the ceiling of Lee’s cabin aboard the Royal Research Ship, James Cook. Like a sounding line dropped to the ocean floor, the paper is marked blindly by the haphazard rolling of the vessel over an eight hour period.
Elsewhere in the gallery A sailor went to sea, sea, sea II, 2012 wraps six miles of thread, enough to reach the deepest place on Earth, the sub-maritime Challenger Deep, around a column, evoking complex layers of association, from Ariadne’s thread to harbour mooring posts.
I want, I want, I want, 2012 features fired and chromed handfuls of sediment, the residue of scientific samples extracted from 4,000 metres below the sea’s surface. The process of retrieving these is recorded in the elegiac video work The Captain’s Bird Table, 2012. Alongside are a series of photographs of Lee’s oceanographic colleagues, Untitled I – IV Drs. Huvenne, Murton, Ruhl and Le Bas, 2012, in which they were asked to imagine the very depths of the ocean.
These works – and many others within the exhibition – ask what it might mean to ‘look’ into a space so embedded within the world’s economic, political and cultural spheres, yet about which we know less than the moon. The show is accompanied by a new, fully illustrated publication.
Rona Lee: That Oceanic Feeling is a John Hansard Gallery exhibition supported by Arts Council England Grants for the Arts and University of Wolverhampton.