LIBYAN SEA FIGURES (I-IV) 

2019

lead, beach sand




Dimensions vary
Approximately 14 x 8 x 5 cm


Artist notes

The first casting I ever did took place in the workshed of my boyhood home on the coastal fringes of Melbourne. My father (a post WW2 emigrant from the Netherlands), my two brothers and I poured lead that we had melted on a portable camping stove into soup-spoon forms that we had pressed into damp sand gathered from the local beach. We were making sinkers for future fishing expeditions. I was never a very good fisherman, but in my mind I made the finest sinkers.Recently I have returned to that sand casting practice. I have again been pouring lead melted on a portable camping stove, into figurative forms I first made in clay and then pressed into sand of the beaches that form the northern shores of the Libyan Sea, Europe‚Äôs southernmost borders. These wildly rugged places are approximately 350 kms from the Libyan coast. Although modest in scale these little lead figures are heavy. Each comprises the lead from roughly 80 small spherical sinkers, the kind used by the local fishermen in the long hours spent on the sea with which their lives and communities are intertwined.These recast shape-shifters are personal considerations of some of the outcomes of the darker aspects of contemporary migration systems and the dangerous journeys undertaken by hundreds of thousands of people seeking refuge and opportunity in lands safer than those they call home. They are also meditations on the transformational nature of opportunity which is sometimes only encountered through facing fear. Their materiality recalls the laws of gravity while pointing toward another kind of heaviness, the kind that describes the living conditions that drive people to risk their lives in the full face of vulnerability, danger and uncertainty.