Mia Taylor – Cruising through Art & Science

After a crack of dawn flight I am in Iceland. After checking in to my hostel in Reykjavik I head for an exploratory wander towards the dock, where almost immediately I see the Royal Research Ship Discovery looking very impressive. It’s hard to contain my excitement because it will be ‘home’ for the next three weeks.

IMG_0009I’m in Iceland to join an international group of oceanographer scientists on their UK-OSNAP research cruise on the RRS Discovery, we set sail on the 27th July and will head towards the southern tip of Greenland, stopping at moorings in the North Atlantic along the way, then finally we sail back to Southampton for the 17th August. I am not a scientist, I make art (and other things) and this will be an entirely new experience for me – I’m as green as they come. However, thanks to Principle Scientist, Penny Holliday, from the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton I am learning about the project and its aims, which are “to make continuous measurements of the gyre and overturning circulation in the subpolar North Atlantic”. It’s a ten-year project and an international collaboration that will involve taking measurements for the first time ever from moorings in the subpolar North Atlantic from Canada to Greenland to Scotland. Data from the project will help provide a better understanding of ocean circulation and as I understand it, its relation to climate change. The scientists write about it so much better than I can, you can follow their research, its aims and the OSNAP project and journey here – http://www.o-snap.org/news-events/blog/

IMG_0027So, what am I – the ‘fish out of water’ – doing there? I hope to learn more about the project, its methods and the tools that enable it and the people involved, plus the impact their research might have. I am interested in what the lines of communication between our disciplines will be and I’m more than curious about the experience of being on a ship in the middle of the North Atlantic; with little internet, email access and no phone. My practice is often studio based but involves working in response to different environments and subjects; nothing so far will have been quite as extraordinary as this. Whilst on the ship I will be developing new art projects; I’ve packed the watercolours and audio visual equipment but in truth it is hard to imagine what life on board will be like so inevitably I will be responding and nuancing ideas as I go, allowing the journey, physical and metaphorical, to influence what emerges.

So, I’m all packed and ready to go – I’ve borrowed a hard hat, steel toe capped boots and a boiler suit and I’ve got enough layers to keep me warm in a biting wind. I’ve also got Melville’s Moby Dick to keep me company. The only thing I’ve forgotten is a ball of string, which is apparently very important as everything needs to be tied down. However, I do have a roll of masking tape – from studio to ship – perhaps that will do the job.
I’m not sure how much access to internet I will have but I will be writing on here about the journey when I can and also on a blog on my website – miataylor.co.uk

Mia Taylor
Senior Teaching Fellow in Fine Art

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