Offshore: artists explore the sea

1st April - 28th August 2017

Hull Maritime Museum and Ferens Art Gallery.

‘Offshore: artists explore the sea’ examined the many contrasting ways that the sea has shaped our culture, our imaginations and our physical existence through mythical sea monsters, superstition and seaside traditions as well as trade and travel. While inherently without borders, we have mapped the sea for exploitation, geo-political advantage and for conservation.

Ten new commissions were produced specially for ‘Offshore’, including works developed in conversation with leading marine scientists. Existing works by contemporary artists were also selected for their related insights into the sea.

The works were presented at both the Hull Maritime Museum and the Ferens Art Gallery as part of Hull UK City of Culture. At the museum, artists worked in intervention with the historic maritime collections and displays. At the Ferens, maritime paintings from the fine art collection gained a new perspective alongside more contemporary counterparts. From the collections saw a selection of British and North American Scrimshaw, as well as works by Dorothy Cross, Barbara Hepworth, John Loker, Henry Redmore, Bridget Riley, John Amhurst Selby-Bigge, John Keith Vaughan, Willem van de Welde II. 

Unlike the surface depictions of the sea found in traditional maritime painting, contemporary artists in this exhibition were given the opportunity to look beneath the waves: the writer China Miéville explored the ocean depths of Bermuda in a submersible to write an essay, and artist Phil Coy joined a fishing boat out of Bridlington Harbour to create a new film.

Our treatment of the sea threatens its health: climate change, coral bleaching, toxic waste and flooding are some of the issues that artists explored through their work. This and a complex web of ownership, trade and migration provided a wider background for the exhibition.

New artist commissions: Saskia Olde Wolbers, Mariele Neudecker, Badgers of Bohemia, Kasia Molga, Martin Parr, Bik Van Der Pol, Phil Coy, John Wedgwood-Clarke and Rob Mackay, Jonathan Baldock and Ian J Brown and new essay by author China Miéville.

Plus artist works: Tacita Dean, John Smith, Adam Chodzko, Alexander Duncan, Tania Kovats, David Malone, Verena Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Emily Richardson, Shimabuku, Zineb Sedira, Lawrence Lek, John Akomfrah.

‘Offshore’ was part of season two of Hull UK City of Culture 2017, ‘Roots and Routes’ and also included a Symposium ‘Sounding the Sea’, from 15th – 16th June 2017, held at Ferens Art Gallery and the University of Hull.

For more information on the exhibition: Download a print friendly exhibition guide.

Part of Hull UK City of Culture 2017. #Offshore17, #soundingthesea

‘Offshore: artists explore the sea’ was produced by Invisible Dust in partnership with Hull Culture and Leisure and was supported by Hull Culture and Leisure, Arts Council England, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Hull University and the Wellcome Trust Sustaining Excellence Award.

Header image: © John Akomfrah, still from Mnemosyne, 2010.

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