Send all the lifeboats you have
opening March 22 | Show runs March 22 - April 13
Amid the shipwreck of scientific theories, the erstwhile spectator is reduced to clinging to a plank, but this bit of debris is precious to him, for it represents his best hope of rebuilding some frail raft that can carry him, if not safely into harbor, at least further on his endless voyage. Yet the prospect of shipwreck looms ever on the horizon, and pursuing the project of human self-assertion in our present situation means being prepared to abandon whatever patched up craft is currently bearing us across the turbulent seas of existence, in order to leap into the waves and begin, again and again, the task of constructing a new vessel from the materials at hand – including, perhaps, the debris from earlier shipwrecks.
- Hans Blumenberg ‘Shipwreck with Spectator: Paradigm of a Metaphor for Existence’
In 1949, Ann Davison lost her husband at sea when they were shipwrecked on the southernmost point of Dorset, England. Four years later Davison became the first woman to sail solo across the Atlantic. In her book about the journey, ‘My Ship is So Small’, she tells how she accidentally signalled ‘send all the lifeboats you have’ when entering a port in Spain.
'Being of an economical turn of mind and knowing no better I had flown the Q and G flags on the same halyard, one above the other, making a two letter signal QG, "send all the lifeboats you have." But I could not get red in the face about it.'
Her story is one of tragedy, human folly, and ultimately, resilience and courage. As Blumenberg reminds us, the shipwreck has stood in for the frailty of life and precariousness of survival for centuries. As someone who survived a shipwreck, Ann Davison lived the metaphor, literally leaping into the waves, constructing a new vessel, and carrying on.
Carly Butler is an interdisciplinary artist who lives and works in Ucluelet on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Her practice reinterprets nautical knowledge around navigation and survival to reflect on longing, regret and nostalgia. Carly has an MA in Art History and studied fine art at Central Saint Martins in London. She recently completed a BFA at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and was a finalist for the prestigious RBC Canadian Painting Competition in 2014. Recent exhibitions include Anywhere Else at Campbell River Art Gallery, and S.T.E.P. at Queens Museum, New York.