Making Space:Sensing Place

In October 2009, along with artist Thurle Wright, I was awarded a Making Space:Sensing Place Fellowship; part of the HAT: Here and There International Exchange Programme, managed by A Fine Line:Cultural Practice. The Fellowship includes residencies with Britto Arts in Dhaka, Bangladesh, with Arts Reverie in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, with The V&A Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green, London and with The Harley Gallery, Nottinghamshire. Working and collaborating with artists and craftspeople from the UK, Bangladesh and India, responding to the collections and spaces we encounter and sharing these experiences through a touring exhibition and educational workshops.

This blog, which is still developing and being added to, is a record of my experiences during the MS:SP Fellowship. Steven Follen.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Mandvi- The Boat Yard

Mandvi is located on the banks of the Rukmavati river which flows into the Arabian Sea in the Gulf of Kutch.  Mandvi was originally a fortified town and dates back to the late sixteenth century (1581 AD).
The town is most popularly known for its 400 year old ship yard. The local carpenters still make ocean going Dhows in much the same way that their ancestors had done a century ago. Ocean-going vessels from Mandvi travel between Zanzibar in Africa and Calcutta in eastern India via the ports of Arabia, the Persian gulf and the western coast of India.  The tradition of boat building and sailing made Mandvi an important port in the 17th Century.

The ship yard is beside the main road along the river and it is easy to see the men at work, These great vessels are still constructed with hand tools and there scale is stunning. 

Beautifully flowing forms are made from huge pieces of wood. Rows of regular bolts and pegs coax the timbers into position creating complex curves. 

Makeshift skeletal structures surround and contrast with these streamlined and solid forms and look barely strong enough to have any effect in stabilising the structures.