‘Water, water, every where’

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‘The creative interest in the sea has not been restricted to the ancient aquatic myths of Gilgamesh, Oisín or Tarō, but has carried on into the modern age. When Joseph Conrad turned his attention to the genocidal imperial crimes in Africa, he did so via an ivory boat venturing deep into the Congo. When Herman Melville wrote his epic on God, America, commerce and mad vengeful ambition, he set it on a whaling ship in the Atlantic. In 1842, JMW Turner claimed he had himself tied to the mast of a ship for four hours during a heavy storm, like Odysseus resisting the Sirens in Homer’s Odyssey. The result was a painting (Snow Storm – Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth), but just as importantly it was the creation of a form of legend, happening just far enough over the horizon to remain convincing.

With revolutions in transport and travel and the predominant move to urban living, it would appear the sea has lost its primacy in our imaginations. A romance, steeped in truth, fiction and more accurately the indefinable merging of the two, seems to have slipped away. Tania Kovats’ exhibition Oceans returns something of this lost allure…’

– On Tania Kovats’ Oceans at Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh

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