My work as an artist is focused on people and places, and on activities where people work together and help each other. I was fascinated to find out about the boatbuilding project happening in Finisklin because it combines all these elements.
Since November 2017 I have produced a large number of drawings in situ of the boats being built and mended, working from direct observation. I have also begun work on a very large-scale painting based on the drawings. This is my largest painting to date at 14×10 ft.
This large-scale work is being made without using photography. All the information needed comes from the drawings I make in situ. This is partly experimental, an exploration of the role of drawing, and of the nature of perception, and it is also a conscious strategy of solidarity with the boatbuilders, who choose to do things slowly. The idea of time is important in the work. Each week I draw the progress of the builds. Every week a new element is added. Therefore my drawings are different every time. When taking the drawings and trying to make a large-scale work from them, I am faced with the dilemma of which moment to choose to amplify. Making a 10 ft high picture from A3 drawings is a massive technical challenge, and the process will probably take several months.
The boatbuilders have been very welcoming, and are keen to see what I do each session and offer their input on things like the shape and proportions of the boats and the way that they are made and how that is reflected in the drawings.
In my responses to the boatbuilders’ project, I want to explore the idea of craft. I am very interested in the notion of a lost heritage of boatbuilding skills being rediscovered. Making the boats is a long-term project and I really admire the group’s commitment and ability to collaborate and help each other.
Andy Parsons’ project has been funded by Sligo County Council Arts Service.
As the project develops I am planning to explore the subject through as series of 3d works eventually a set of lithographs.