Tide Will Tell I
I’ve been wrestling with this piece since early 2021 whilst others have quietly been and gone. Now the varnish is dry, I guess I win this bout. Or maybe not, it is possible I missed the boat in prior stages.
I’ve hidden it twice with both graphite wash and porcelain slip, and then laid into it with sanders, scrapers, wire brushes, alcohol, turps and paint stripper, each time hoping to kickstart a new direction. I nearly called it a day on several days but this test of endurance, reminded me of how getting utterly lost is vital to the creative process.
The source press photograph for this painting, has been incubating on a hard drive since it was taken in 2013. It showed refugees on a bus heading to an australian detention centre on Manus Island.
What struck me about this photograph was not only the tragic story behind it, the compelling composition or its components, such as the looming tale of the plane or the sequence of windows framing their plight. What struck me, were the men pressing their tiny ID photographs against the bus windows, like shells of notes on a musical score. A human gesture presumably meant to reassure their loved ones back at home, they were still alive.
The UK authorities aren’t doing a humane job of receiving refugees NOW and as numbers of displaced peoples increase globally, the challenge of how to offer humane shelter to refugees is only going to increase. Packing people off to other countries like Rwanda is not a way to deal with this challenge, as history has clearly demonstrated time and time again.
A little background to Manus Regional Processing Centre
Tragically over the next few years after their arrival, instead of being cared for and integrated smoothly into either Papua New Guinean or Australian society, the refugees endured several traumatising years. At least eight of the men died from either suicides, illness or in one case murder.
In 2017, the Papuan New Guinean government requested the Australian government close the centres, declaring them illegal.
Sadly the refugee’s story didn’t end there and it took several more years for the remaining men to find the right to live freely in their new found homes.
For more info on the Manus Regional Processing Centre please click here:
Image 1 – ‘Tide Will Tell I’ (2022) 220cm x 153cm acrylics, inks, graphite, porcelain slip on plywood panel.
Image 2 – ‘Tide Will Tell I’ (2022) details
Image 3 – ‘Tide Will Tell I’ (2022) details
Image 4 – ‘Tide Will Tell I’ (2022) details
Image 5 – ‘Tide Will Tell I’ (2022) details
Image 6 – ‘Tide Will Tell I’ in studio
Image 7 – ‘Tide Will Tell I’ work in progress on ply 250cm x 125cm
Image 8 – preparatory sketch on tracing paper
Image 9 – preparatory sketch
Image 10 – Original source photograph ©Eoin Blackwell AP