Saturday, June 17, 2017

Holiday art encounters - 2

This encounter was extraordinary: it was an experience which lifted my spirits in a way which has perhaps not occurred since way back in the mists of time.  We visited the arts centre in Lochmaddy, North Uist to have lunch on our tour of that island, and to see what art there was on exhibit.  Upstairs there was a room with quotes from a logbook written on the walls, the log books of Roberta Sinclair, naturalist and submariner. Stationed on Berneray after the second world war, she was a keen sea swimmer and regularly explored the waters around the island, gaining the nickname An Giomach (The Lobster).

and a mobile with small cable cars filled the upper volume of the space.  The exhibition's title is The Lobster and the Lacuna

The downstairs gallery contained a full size cable car, with projected waves on the walls around. the mid 1950s, the system expanded into the sound of Harris, when an unsuccessful attempt was made to create a new shipping hub on the east coast of the tiny island of Hermetray. Backed by investment from the then owners of Amhuinnsuidhe Castle, a small team built a prototype car which travelled from Berneray along the Grey Horse Channel to Hermetray, spending much of the route underwater to avoid crosswinds and interference with shipping.
Ms. Sinclair helped modify HCTC gondola No. 72 into an amphibious vehicle and was the only passenger on the prototype’s single voyage. Thinking both of a species of intertidal sea snail (Lacuna Vincta) and also of the silent unknowns of the world beneath the waves, she referred to her adapted cable car as The Lacuna.
So many exhibitions these days are based on or derived from history - events, people, social developments, etc. that this appeared to be another such - beautifully designed and engaging, ... amusing and largely quotidian quotes from the logbook, and the 50s wooden cable car there downstairs.

WHAT!?  A cable car transit across a stretch of sea constantly buffeted by strong winds, gales...?  And which also journeyed part of the route under water...?  A beautifully constructed cable car, but nonetheless a wooden cable car which resembled a cross between a shed and a beach hut-?

I must admit that my initial response was that it was all real, and that it had just been some bonkers idea from the folks in charge, but then doubts (which came much more rapidly to my husband) crept in.
What a glorious wheeze.  What a wondrous conceit so excellently, meticulously executed.  Brilliant story and accompanying detail and design.  The Hebridean Cable Transit Company  is - the artists - are Philippa C Thomas and Hector MacInnes.  The exhibition had been shown in Stornoway previously, and a blog noting its journey is here, whence came the images above (part of its title is Suspension and Disbelief).

Here are some snaps I took of the cable submersible:

Two other spoofs which I have encountered in my lifetime are similar: the spaghetti harvest film presented by the BBC (see it here), and the supplement on San Serriffe in the Guardian newspaper  (see it here).

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