THE SUNBEAM 2009, Modified found object, 21.5cm x 28.5cm x 5.5cm. ‘The Ashley Book of Knots’ by Clifford W. Ashley 1993, covered with 23 ct gold leaf and embossed with text inscription
THE SUNBEAM The inscription embossed on the cover of the book instructs the viewer to turn to a specific page, paragraph and sentence contained in the text.
This selection of text has particular relevance to the title of the work itself. The inscription is therefore an invitation to handle the object and enter into real communication with it via the senses and the mind. I consider the work a conceptual piece although ironically it can only become an artwork once the viewer enters into direct physical contact with the object and the text.
The title is taken from the passage to which the embossed instructions direct the viewer: in 1904 a ship named the ‘Sunbeam’ sailed from the port of New Bedford containing a small library of 100 books. As the author of the text explains, this is noteworthy because the library contained too few books to satisfy the Sunbeam crew’s appetite for reading materials during the 5 years of its voyage. The crew soon returned to the art of scrimshaw and rope-knotting in order to keep themselves busy. The irony is that it was in fact the introduction of literacy programmes aboard sea-vessels that led to the almost wholesale extinction of the traditional art of rope knotting.
The Ashley Book of Knots contains detailed written instructions and illustrations for 3,854 different rope knots and rope-knotting techniques. It remains a seminal text detailing the history of the sailors’ craft of rope-knotting. Today the book helps to keep this dying art form alive albeit in a new, written form.
Rack of Pipes/ Throwing Bones
RACK OF PIPES/ THROWING BONES 2010, Modified found object, dimensions variable. Used smoking pipes and pipe rack, 23ct gold leaf and embossed with text inscriptions
Kings & Queens 1
KINGS & QUEENS I 2010, Modified found object, approximately 15cm x 8cm x 3cm. Limited Edition Casino quality twin-deck playing cards, 23ct gold leaf. Cards published in 2009 in commemoration of Darwin’s Bicentenary and
150 years of The Origin of Species
Kings & Queens 2
KINGS & QUEENS II 2011, Modified found object, 18cm x 12cm x 9cm. Camel bone chess set, steel knuckle duster with the word ‘love’, mahogany chess box, 23 ct gold leaf. The chess pieces do not fit into the container in any other formation
Rabbit & Hat (for Mary Tofts 1701-1763)
RABBIT & HAT (for Mary Tofts, c. 1700-1763) 2010, Modified found object, 25cm x 32cm x 23cm
206 Rabbit bones, 23ct gold leaf, vintage collapsible silk top hat. Original storage box, German made, 1930
RABBIT & HAT Mary Tofts (c. 1701-1763) is an infamous figure from British history whose actions gave rise to the figure of speech (and magic trick): ‘pulling a rabbit from a hat’. In the mid-18th century Tofts convinced the British establishment that she had the ability to give birth to rabbits. She was eventually found to be a fraud but her actions destroyed many a surgeon’s reputation. Interestingly, on average a rabbit has the same amount
of bones in its body as that of a human being.