Maritime Art Week – Simon Patterson’s "The Undersea World and Other Stories"

Since there are some cool contemporary maritime influenced art projects currently on exhibit across the globe, we’ve declared this Maritime Art Week. Here’s a peak at a another.

Simon Patterson is a British artist that is probably best known for his work The Great Bear, a London Underground map in which the names of the stations have been replaced with those of philosophers, film stars, assorted celebrities, artists and even saints. In 1996, Patterson was shortlisted for the Tate Britain’s prestigious Turner Prize.

Simon Patterson The Great Bear

The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England has a program called New Visions – Contemporary Art at The National Maritime Museum in which “the Museum commissions British and international artists to explore themes that illustrate the significance of the sea, time and stars to an ever-changing audience.” Patterson currently has a show there entitled The Undersea World and Other Stories. From the museum’s website:

The Undersea World and Other Stories investigates Simon Patterson’s consistent explorations of the sea, stars and time – themes central to the collections and research at the National Maritime Museum (NMM). The Museum unpacks the material cultures that result from human attempts to find their place in the world, be it mapping the skies above, the ocean depths below, or seeking relationships across time and space. (more)

Simon Patterson Cousteau

Patterson takes inspiration from the famous French undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau who in the 1960’s and 1970’s hosted the very popular TV show The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau. Hence the title of the exhibition.

The Undersea World and Other Stories presents an anthology of Patterson’s works alongside a new commission Cousteau in the Underworld which takes as its first layer mid-19th-century Admiralty charts of the eastern Mediterranean and Aegean where the sea is necessarily represented through its limits: soundings show the depth to its bottom; rocky outcrops and sandbanks mark where its surface is interrupted; details of landmasses, such as coastlines and buildings seen from seaward, its edges. Into these empirical documents Patterson folds Greek mythology – a belief system in which the adventures of gods and goddesses were used to interpret existence and conduct.

Not content with setting these two descriptive structures in mutual confrontation, Patterson further complicates the matter by drawing the figure of the French oceanaut Jacques-Yves Cousteau into his network. The pioneering scientist’s long-running television series The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, first screened in 1966, turned the TV set into a porthole through which world-wide audience could explore the deep, aided by the crew of his ship, Calypso. Naming is an act that concerns Patterson: Cousteau’s ship adopts that of a nymph from Greek mythology, which in translation means ‘I will conceal’, quite the opposite of Cousteau’s mission.

Here are some of Patterson’s earlier works.

Monkey Business 1993

Simon Patterson Monkey Business

Untitled (Sails) 1996

Simon Patterson Untitled (Sails)

From the Ikon exhibition guide for the show High Noon:

This work plays upon the viewer’s knowledge of two diverse subjects ­ sailing and literature. The names are those of famous authors  Sterne wrote ground-breaking novels, Bell was the pseudonym of Charlotte Brontë and Chandler wrote crime fiction. However, each name has an additional association related to sailing and shipping ­ the stern is the rear of the boat, the bell is used as
a traditional nautical signal and a ship’s chandler provides necessary supplies. The numbers become less obscure through the realisation that they relate to the authors’ birth and death dates. The information on the sails is presented as formal yacht identification markings ­ highlighting Patterson’s obsession with systems. The work evokes ideas of escape and travel, as the artist invites the viewer on a voyage into a fictional world created by the three writers.

Simon Patterson is a smart conceptual artist interested in ideas and language, not pretty pictures. Lucky for us, his works have been heavily influenced by maritime history, heritage and culture.

The Undersea World and Other Stories is on exhibit until October 26, 2008. General information about the National Maritime Museum, a must see for anyone interested in all things maritime.

TimesOnline (UK) Review (April 30, 2008 )

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Maritime Art Week – Container Art Show

Since there are some cool contemporary maritime influenced art projects currently on exhibit across the globe, we’ve declared this Maritime Art Week. Here’s a peak at a another.

The Wooster Collective is one of my favorite art blogs. Their interest is primarily street art and I’ve previously posted some of their incredible discoveries. Last week they posted about The Container Art Project which is currently in Italy.

From the Container Art Project website, “What is container art?”

Empty containers ambling around the world, filling with beauty wherever they stop.

An urban, itinerant and adaptive art exhibit. Installations, sculptures, and paintings of the most innovative talents of the local and global artscape in many containers spread around town. A different work of contemporary art in each container, a different mix of artists in each city. Interactive containers connecting communities far away through art.

We amble around the world following our impulses and interests.

Below images from Container Art’s Flickr photostream.

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Maritime Art Week – David Byrne’s "Playing the Building"

Since there are some cool contemporary maritime influenced art projects currently on exhibit across the globe, we’ve declared this Maritime Art Week and we’ll take a peak at a few.

One of my all time favorite bands was the Talking Heads and long after they broke up, I’ve followed the music, art and activities of front man David Byrne who’s latest project is an installation in the beautiful Beaux Arts Maritime Building in New York City.


From David Byrne’s website where there’s also a good interview about the project.

Playing the building is a sound installation in which the infrastructure, the physical plant of the building, is converted into a giant musical instrument. Devices are attached to the building structure — to the metal beams and pillars, the heating pipes, the water pipes — and are used to make these things produce sound. The activations are of three types: wind, vibration, striking. The devices do not produce sound themselves, but they cause the building elements to vibrate, resonate and oscillate so that the building itself becomes a very large musical instrument.

Here’s short BBC news report on the project followed by an interesting YouTube video:


“Playing the Building” is sponsored by Creative Time an arts organization that does some amazing stuff. From their website:

Creative Time presents the most innovative art in the public realm. From our base in New York, we work with artists who ignite the imagination and explore ideas that shape society. We initiate a dynamic conversation among artists, sites, and audiences, in projects that enliven public spaces with free and powerful expression.

Here’s a video slide show of some of Creative Time’s past projects.

My favorite Creative Time project was Art in the Anchorage (1983) which was installed "inside the cavernous space of the Brooklyn Bridge’s massive stone foundation. In 1983, to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the bridge, Art in the Anchorage (1983–2001) inaugurated an annual series of exhibitions. The first year ten artists were commissioned to create new works addressing the “vivid historical and visual qualities of the Anchorage,” including the barrel vaulted ceilings and massive masonry piers housing the bridge’s cables." (link)

It’s great to see that art can bring life to a beautiful old maritime building, one that harbors so many memories and stories about New York’s rich maritime heritage.

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Sea-Fever Style: Subway Sea Monster by Joshua Allen Harris

I loved Joshua Allen Harris’ earlier creations so much that I posted off topic about them. Now he’s done a Sea Monster which is cool and definitely suitable for Sea-Fever. Enjoy!


Related post: Sea-Fever Style: Air Bear in NYC

Thanks to Wooster Collective

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Sea-Fever Style: Air Bear in NYC

This is off topic from what is usually covered here but heck it is my personal blog and I love this street art by Joshua Allen Harris.

Using discarded plastic bags, Harris makes animals and other mysterious creatures that jump to life on NYC subway grates. There is something really magical about this. Hope you enjoy it too!

Via the always interesting Wooster Collective blog

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Sea-Fever Style: Music for the Deep Blue Sea

Kitsune Noir is one of my new favorite blogs. It’s written by Bobby S. as “a collection of art, design, movies, music, technology and ideas that I want to share with people who read it.” KN’s was recently featured on Boing Boing for it’s cool Desktop Wallpaper Project.

Yesterday, Bobby posted a link to a great mixtape he created for a weekend journey. It’s call Deep Blue Sea so you can probably guess what the inspiration was. I really enjoyed listening to it today so I thought I’d pass the link on to you too. The music artwork is beautiful as well. Enjoy.



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Sea-Fever Style: Mast Appeal (NY Times)

Mast Appeal sailing jacket NY Times TomSchierlitz

Sea-Fever Style has moved to Saturday to make way for Sunday VOWs.

Last Sunday’s NY Times Play Magazine had a style section titled Mast Appeal which presented “sailing-inspired styles for seaman and landlubber alike. You don’t have to know how to hoist a spinnaker — let alone trim a gollywobbler — to look the part.”

Above: VICTORINOX SWISS ARMY SAILING JACKET made with wind- and abrasion-resistant stretch fabric, a snap-off hood and an adjustable harness to help prevent unintentional swims. $650.

Recent Sea-Fever Style Posts:

Sunday Sea-Fever Style (Bonus): Maiden Voyage (NY Times)

Sunday Sea-Fever Style: Living in a shell

Sunday Sea-Fever Style – Jason Taylor’s Underwater Art

Sunday Sea-Fever Style: The Harbour Crane Hotel

Sunday Sea-Fever Style: Tom Price’s Meltdown Chair

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