Autumn of 14 Collection / Colorado Yule Marble
SN141102 / 31.5 x 5 x 6.5″ / 20.4 lbs / sold
Prior to moving to Woody Creek in October of 2003 almost my entire life had played out within fifty or so miles of the sea, and needless to say being the outdoorsy nature-lover that I am I took practically every opportunity to discover, hike and explore any and every wild, near-deserted beach I could lay my feet upon. The coastline of my native British Isles is in places as wild and treacherous as anywhere you can possibly imagine: death-defying cliffs peer out over mile after mile of craggy boulder-strewn shoreline. All along the west coast, from Cornwall’s ‘Land’s End’ to Scotland’s ‘John O’Groats’, huge waves whipped into a frenzy by Gulf Stream trade winds batter the island pretty much year round. And so, with such dangerous waters surrounding so great a commercial seafaring nation, shipwrecks make for a very familiar sight indeed. Very few stretches of coastline are devoid of these elegantly rusting hulks. Sometimes they might be glimpsed from the dizzying heights of a near vertical cliff top, half submerged and seemingly clinging to the jagged rocks with a living will as the merciless white water seethes and pounds the fractured hull. Quite often however these curiously fascinating rusting hulks can be found languishing upon an innocuous sandbank like some giant beast stretched out to take a nap. But just how these expensive behemoths came to be abandoned in the first place can occasionally prove something of a mystery. Often, with little or no outward signs of damage it can appear as though it just sort of gave up the will to live and voluntarily beached itself , as would appear to be the case with the ‘Gemari’, a beautifully majestic wreck that would seem to have gently glided onto the southernmost rocky tip of the Greek Island of Karpathos. Regardless of how these things arrived at their final resting place I have to say that irrespective of their past I think they are really quite beautiful – just as nasty horrible cruel ancient castles, quite often the stage for inhuman acts of unimaginable cruelty and barbarity, are now considered aesthetically pleasing. To me the origin of a thing, once it has been de-fanged is immaterial, and such is the case for these beautiful arcane shipwreck sculptural installations.
But just how and when the vision of a shipwreck entered my head during Beached Boat’s carving process is a question for speculation. At seven and a half thousand feet in the Rocky Mountains, not to mention a thousand miles from the sea, there aren’t too many shipwrecks around these parts. My guess is that a photo album that I recently ‘rediscovered’ opened the floodgates to memories of the years when I spent so much time on so many beaches that sand was apt to come spilling out of any and all outdoor clothing, hiking boots and camping equipment alike. And so I present ‘Beached Boat’ – my personal tribute to the utterly fantastic larger-than- life Brutal Industrial Art Installations that literally ‘litter’ the north world’s shoreline. And just as gorgeously curvilinear concrete highway bridges cannot, in themselves, take the blame for the pollution they so gracefully facilitate, then these stylishly rusting hulks surely can be appreciated for their incongruously magnificent scale and form, not to mention the enduring spectacle presented by such a mighty man-made object ever-so-slowly dissolving to from whence it came. A working title for ‘Beached Boat’ was at one point ‘Sheer Folly’, such was the extraordinary amount of time it took me to figure out the schematics of this piece. The mandate I originally set myself was to carve a sculpture that looked to be fundamentally ‘implausible’. I wasn’t quite sure where that would take me but as I set about carving a horizontal, long, curvy bowl the imagery and ideas kept pointing to a shipwreck of some kind. However, actually working out the angles required to balance so complex a project proved something of… a challenge. But as with my previous ‘tipsy-looking’ bowls I assure you ‘Beached Boat’ is as stable as can be. Even when filled with water it won’t tip – not unless it is subjected to conditions that would cause practically anything… a toaster, blender or the like, to topple over.
Hot on the heels of ‘No Strings Attached’ and ‘San Rocchino Bowl’ Beached Boat continues to explore themes introduced by these two most striking of bowls and yet hearkens back in many ways to ‘The Maiden Collection’ and several of the groundbreaking bowls incorporated within what was my first Finite Marble Sculpture Collection. Perhaps then it’s fitting that this whiter-than-white ghost from the past should receive the signature Maiden Collection matte finish that serves to reduce surface sheen to an absolute minimum, a durable monotone hand finish that allows in my view the true form of this wafer thin sculpture to take clear precedence, revealing in the process the magnificent, ethereal and almost transparent properties of this fine specimen of Colorado Yule Marble.
And finally… with all but three tiny fingerprint-sized areas on the underside of Beached Boat exposed to view I thought it appropriate to inscribe the serial number (SN141102) in roughly the same spot as the ill-fated ‘Gemari’.
The last time I checked my Google Earth, the ill-fated Gemari still lies stricken upon the rocky shores of Karpathos, Greece.
Colorado Yule Marble Sculpture by Martin Cooney
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