Assembling the vessel

Graduate Seminars in Narrative
Mike Ricketts, Chelsea College of Art and Design

The Vessel is a meandering work of art, a cluster of anecdotes augmented by imagery from diverse sources. The topic is a floating metal box: former U.K. prison ship H.M.P. The Weare, now renamed Jascon 27 and serving as home to international oil workers in the Niger Delta. The art work recounts the artist's elaborate quest to access and trace this huge but elusive object through various kinds of physical and virtual space, taking us on a jump-cut journey from Sweden to the Falkland Islands, Germany to Manhattan, Dorset to Dubai via Facebook, Google Earth,, Lloyd's Shipping Register... Encounters and dialogues with individuals whose lives have intersected with this 'flotel' since the late 1970s (engineers, ship spotters, soldiers, the artist's brother...) - and the re-narration of their stories - are central here. The art work, developed over several years, has taken different forms: a performance with projected images, a public event on a windy cliff-top inside a prison, and a short film plus curated display of artefacts. Artist Mike Ricketts will share The Vessel and explore relationships between its structure and different presentations and its unusual subject: a non-propelled barge constructed almost entirely of shipping containers; an often-invisible entity with an unusual itinerary and unstable identity; an object of controversy that's utterly mundane. 

Born in Sheffield in 1971, Mike Ricketts is an artist, a PhD candidate at Chelsea College of Art and Design and a Senior Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Art at Christie's Education. He lives and works between Somerset and London. Mike's practice explores spatial controversies through the development of works in everyday situations, in particular in response to terms of access, spatial regulations and codes.

Assembling The Vessel (video)