Red brick in the suburbs, white horse on the wall,
Eyetalian marbles in the City Hall:
O stranger from England, why stand so aghast?
May the Lord in His mercy be kind to Belfast *
*Ballard to a Traditional Refrain by Maurice Craig lifted from Brendan Behan’s Island 1963
Scantlings is a new solo exhibition from artist Aphra O’Connor, which celebrates the enduring local boat building industry through a range of sculpture, print and ceramic works.
The exhibition follows the construction of a new fishing vessel at the Parkol Marine engineering site in Whitby. Each stage of construction has been documented by the artist, and the works reference the various techniques employed in the boat building process.
Items discarded during the building have been collected together and reimagined in abstract three-dimensional collages. Through this, O’Connor sets out to capture the nuances which lie behind the rough and heavy labour which takes place on the yard. In a similar vein, ceramics feature as a method of recording the imprints of the found objects. By indenting and creating repeating patters on ceramic, O’Connor seeks to open a dialogue between the traditional nature of making and more industrial modes of manufacture.
The systematic approach to assembly and the reliance on the prefabricated is played upon in ornamental prints, whose designs isolate and focus on the many forms hidden within the structures of the boat yard.
Scantlings is a natural progression of O’Connor’s interest in the manufacturing heritage of the North East. In a time of severe difficulty for British production, this exhibition offers a wink to both local history and the surviving industry.