Full Fathom Five – about the sculpture
One of the largest sculptures recently installed in the UK, the Seafarer’s Sculpture has been created by artist Michael Dan Archer. It consists of a forest of granite columns running across a large earthwork by the sea in the new Port Marine development in Portishead near Bristol.
The 108 granite columns vary in height from 1m to 3m and are arranged in serpentine aisles which the spectator can walk through to the crest of the mound where a stone has been set to sit on and contemplate the sea. From land or sea, the view reveals that the columns form the profile of a wave.
The sculpture was designed to evoke the atmosphere of the sea and to relate to historical and contemporary seafaring. It also indicates Archer’s preoccupation with enigmatic architectural form of ancient cultures.
Text relating to the seafaring history of the site and including the names of ships, cargos, destinations and parts of a poem relating to the sea, has been inscribed on many of the columns.
See Robert Stuart Clamp information for full version.
Text and Sources :
The definitive text which is carved into 40 of the granite pillars
This listing was completed in discussion with the local community and particular thanks are extended to the Royal British Legion ,The Gordano Historical Society, Mr Winter, Mrs Herbert, Mr Ken Crowhurst and Mr John Rich for their clarification on matters historical.
The aim is to provide clues to the history and heritage of the site thereby connecting the present to the past, provoking and recording memory and emotions from Portisheads interdependence with the sea.
Line, Carved Text, Explanatory Note
1, SS LYN 28TH JUNE 1879 PS WAVERLEY, The first and last boats to enter the old dock
2, BTS FORMIDABLE BRIGANTINE POLLY, National Nautical School ships
3, BRANDON ST VINCENT SALCOMBE,
4, SALLY ORGAN LETTY PET,
5, BERTIE QUEEN MOTHER STELLA,
Items 3,4,5: Coal Ships and Bristol Channel Pilot Boats
6, MARINER DENBAR SAGE, Portishead Lifeboat names
7, HMS CALLIOPE HMS CLEOPATRA, Royal Naval training ships stationed offshore
8, PS ALBION PS WESTWARD HO, Of local interest
9, ALBRIGHT EXPLORER ALBRIGHT PIONEER, Albright and Wilson ships
10, MV BALMORAL CELTIC WARRIOR, Strong local connections and stories
11, BLACK NORE POINT 1894 BATTERY POINT 1931, Lighthouses
12, CATTLE COAL GRAIN
13, PETROLEUM PHOSPHOROUS TIMBER
Items 12,13: imported materials when docks at their height of activity
14, GKU OVER AND OUT, Final message issued by the old Portishead Radio Station
15 to 26, Sitting by the singing sea, alone, left behind
Feeling your breath on the wind
Reaching out to touch beyond the horizon
Waiting for the tide to turn
Past and future connect, only a memory away
Crossing was never easy (verse 1)
Sitting amongst these grief cold stones, alone too long
Hearing the ocean’s whisper, silent on the wind
Time eludes us yet, devouring our anger
Laying waste to all our dreams
We have to go now, make us ready
Crossing will not be easy, sailing to be free (verse 3)
Verses 1 and 3 of the poem written by RSC
27, REFLECTION HOPE SERVICE
Items 27, 28: Guiding principles of the Royal British Legion
29, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM, Quoted from the Laurence Binyon poem, always spoken on Remembrance Day
30, NEEDS NO COMPASS, CARRIES NO MAP, Sea Shanty (about a ship’s rat!) Cyril Tawny
31, SALLY FREE AND EASY, Sailors Lament
32, ONE MORE DAY ON THE GREY FUNNEL LINE, About working for the Royal Navy
33, MAKE WIDE THE OARS AND PULL AWAY
34, DO YOU THINK THAT I DO NOT KNOW ?
35, IN TROUBLED WATERS IT KEEPS US AFLOAT
Items 33,34,35: folk songs
36, ARE THOSE HER SAILS THAT GLANCE THE SUNm, Quote from The Ancient Mariner
37, NO MERMAID JUST GOING FOR A SWIM, Modern folk song by Joan B
39, MICHAEL DAN ARCHER
Michael Dan Archer is an established Scottish born sculptor. Currently based in Lincolnshire he exhibits widely in the UK and around the world. In recent years he has made sculpture and exhibited his work in the USA, Japan, South Korea, Sweden, Germany and Italy He works predominantly in the field of public art, making large-scale sculptures for local authorities, educational establishments, architects and industry for public and private sites. These have included an 8.5 metre high obelisk in granite for Cardiff Bay, a 4.5 metre high gateway form in marble for Ashridge management school and works for Cambridge and Nottingham Universities.
Archer works primarily in stones such as granite and marble but also makes sculpture in cast iron, neon, steel, earthworks and light/image projection. Archer's sculpture does not deal with the human figure but with artifacts and forms implying a human presence. These include references to familiar objects such as crucibles or gateways but these new versions have enigmatic functions or act as metaphors.
Many of the works in stone deal directly with landscape, using fragments of actual landscape for example naturally riven slabs of quarry face which retain their wild qualities.
Archer has been developing a number of themes in recent sculptural commissions. Gateways while acting as a physical zone of change from one place to another also stand as a metaphor for psychological change from one state to another. Similarly the crucible is a zone of transformation. A further theme is the obelisk which has its roots in the distant mists of time, in standing stones and in Egyptian obelisks. It is timeless, occuring in architecture in the form of towering skyscrapers. He sees works in this tradition as sculptures which indicate significant sites. The viewers of the sculpture look at the environment around the work and the sculpture itself in new and fresh ways.
In current projects collaboration and installation are important elements. Archer has recently won a commission to design a tidal barrage and sluice gate on Tyneside and recently completed a light and sound installation sited on and within a land lighthouse in Lincolnshire.
In many of Archer's recent commissions Archer has incorporated community involvement. As a lecturer for many years he is experienced in engaging with people and has led many successful, commission related, workshops, consultations and seminars.
BA (Hons) Fine Art
Elected to membership of the Royal Society of British Sculptors in 1994
Elected to Council of the Royal Society of British Sculptors in 1995
Member of the International Sculptures Society, USA
Senior Lecturer in Sculpture, Loughborough University
Visiting Lecturer at Cardiff, Coventry and Derby Art Colleges
Cambridge Arts Society, Lincoln University
Annual Stone Carving Workshop at Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Stone: Sculpture and the Work Place, Canary Wharf, London
2 - Michael Dan Archer and Pal Svensson, Customs House, South Shields
Echoes, Memories, Dreams - Solo Exhibition, Djanogoly Gallery, Nottingham
Dunston Pillar, Beacon Project, Lincolnshire
Horice International Sculpture Symposium, Czech Republic
Emaar International Sculpture Symposium, Czech Republic
Group Show, Dean Clough, Halifax
Newby Hall Sculpture Park, North Yorks
Group Show, The Living Gallery, Stourbridge
Solo exhibition, Lincoln Cathedral
Solo exhibition, CBAT - Cardiff Bay Arts Trust
2001 Sculpture on the Green, Norwich Castle and Museum
Oggleshausen Sculpture Symposium, Oggleshausen, Germany
Solo exhibition Daiwa Foundation, London
In Site. Djanogly Gallery, University of Nottingham
Passing Through Solo Exhibition, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield
1999 Durbach International Sculpture Symposium, Durbach, Germany
For further details, please see website www.archersculpture.co.uk