Pandemic Ghost Cruisers 2020: An Artist’s Response

Empty cruisers, grounded by COVID-19, sound fog horns in Weymouth Bay 2020.

As many as 9 cruisers have been abandoned, apart from a skeleton crew, in Weymouth Bay in 2020. I have stayed in Ringstead every year for the last 20, and in 2020, feeling overlooked on a normally deserted stony beach, I took to making beach sculptures to somehow capture the change in atmosphere on the beach and my own response to that.
Using stone freely available on Ringstead beach, I chose the four colours normally connected with East, North, West, South in Maya iconography. Each colour connects the 4 cardinal directions to the centre of the Earth, from which grows The World Tree.
Previously painted on 20 individual canvasses exhibited in London Maya Calendar they show how the Maya applied red for East, connected to the rising sun and dawn; followed by white for North midday the sun at its zenith; followed by black for West and the setting sun; and finally yellow for the sun’s journey underground to rise again next day associated with the underworld, the harvest and abundance. Red stones, or rather the earthy tones of orange and brown I found started the pattern and the contrast with the chalk white stones was striking.

Local stone collected and arranged in a calendar circle, echoing the colours found in Maya manuscripts, showing cardinal directions.

I found the eye drawn to the black/white contrast seen locally in the Marbled White butterfly which flutters all over White Nothe, overlooking the beach and suddenly I recalled a sculpture I had seen in Stuttgart in the 80s – Walter De La Maria had filled a room with white stones, at first blinding the viewer but with a little patience one became aware of the sun in the room, a cloud outside changing a tone or shade. Actually white appeared to be made of tones of yellow, grey and cream with the actual form of the material casting black shadows and gently toning white to grey. This observation has coloured how I examine blocks of colour ever since.
Expanding circles of local stone; proved popular with local visitors.

Due to the Pandemic and also the cruisers, Ringstead beach is thronged with holiday makers unable to go abroad and more importantly, it is unlike Weymouth beach in that dogs are permitted – enter families of dog loving walkers. My normally abandoned beach is filled with families and dogs, nudist and tripper alike. These stone sculptures were my response.
See more on Facebook. Serpentina Lawlor Mottram. Weymouth Stone Sculptures.