A house by the sea – a son with an interest in marine biology – a television documentary featuring the Challenger Expedition (1873–76) – a conversation with SAMS Director Laurence Mee … the sea cast its spell and an artistic exploration was underway. In 2011, I started reading the Report of the Scientific Results of the Exploring Voyage of HMS Challenger during the years 1873-76 …
My line of inquiry moved seamlessly from the Challenger Expedition and oceanography to NASA’s space exploration programme, thrilled to discover that NASA acknowledged the importance of the Challenger Expedition by naming a space shuttle and the Apollo 17 lunar landing module after the ship, and that one of my favourite photographs was taken from space shuttle Challenger – Bruce McCandless II taking the first untethered spacewalk using a Manned Maneuvering Unit.
Over the years, twenty-six artworks inspired by the Challenger Expedition have emerged: digital collages, screenprints, cyanotypes and even an assemblage. These works acknowledge and celebrate the courage, determination and achievements of those who explore the unknown to give us a better understanding of our world and ourselves.
The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.