Photo courtesy of Jealous Print Studio
I am thrilled to announce that I will be exhibiting work at Saatchi Gallery as they will be showing the Jealous Needs You exhibition which I have work featured in, in their Print and Editions space on the Kings Road, London. The show will run 9th April – 4th May 2015. All the screenprints are just £75 each.
Monday, March 16, 2015
Monday, March 2, 2015
Sunday, March 1, 2015
Yesterday Steve & I were invited with 3 other arts practitioners by the Royal Navy on board the decommissioned nuclear submarine, HMS Courageous, where we were given a 3 hour tour by a former electrical engineer. This is an image of the submarine rising to the surface on one of her many missions between 1971-1992, mainly as part of the Falklands War. The submarine was powered by a nuclear reactor but didn’t carry nuclear missiles. Internally the ship has been partly restored to represent the SSN fleet of the Royal Navy during the Cold War, using many parts from the interiors of HMS Valiant. It has had it's nuclear reactor removed, but pregnant women are still not allowed on board; making it clear that it has been impossible to rid the sub of all residual radiation. Besides HMS Courageous, there are 11 other retired nuclear submarines which sit rusting in the dock, most of whom have not had their reactors removed. You can read more about this here; "Devonport: Living Next To A Nuclear Submarine Graveyard".
Photography isn't allowed on the sub or in the dockyard but these are some pictures I found taken from inside during her operation. One of the most fascinating things was to discover that the military used William Morris floral fabrics in the interiors of the communal areas inside the submarine - it was such a contrast to see against the activities at the time - and inside such a masculine vessel purely designed for attack. We were told that the submariners weren't too keen on it. As space was limited, the fabric was used to wrap over beer kegs and form chairs in the senior mess; a bar / cinema / restaurant / library / games room & occasional operating theatre.
Morris&Co fabric, Tudor Rose, 1883, used to upholster British nuclear submarine interiors.
In November 1972, Princess Anne visited HMS Courageous for a tour, and a plaque was made which sat above one of the toilets - "Princess Anne Sat Here". Here she is cutting a giant cake in the shape of a submarine.
Being someone who is generally pretty risk-averse, my favourite topic were the emergency evacuation procedures; all involving a huge element of risk (such as your lungs exploding) - my 'favourite' were a set of individual bright orange floatation suits which were given to all submariners to first eject to the surface, await the next, and zip together - slowly forming a giant bright orange human life raft bobbing across the ocean, hoping to be seen.
Many of the submariners (except for the navigator & captain) have no idea where they are going or where they have been during their mission, so surfacing in an emergency may throw up some surprises.
Living conditions were cramped (some of the trainees & juniors were expected to sleep in the mechanical bays, sharing beds with missiles) and the dormitories had up to 40 beds stacked 3 high - in these rooms the lights were only switched on once a week in order to hoover the floors - and smoking was allowed (and popular) until 2010.
As an artist, I don’t think the mindset of the military is something I will ever be able to understand. We are fundamentally different; I am trained to ask questions & they are trained to ask none. This makes it difficult to be creative (although one submariner on HMS Courageous had packed his paints and drawn a portrait of Lenin during one Cold War voyage) & makes it hard for me to fight wars. But stepping into new shoes once in a while is always a healthy and valuable thing to do.
Thanks to the HMS Courageous Association for the images.