Saturday, February 18, 2012


  Unknown artist, Gold Ring, c1823, 
© National Maritime Museum Collections, 
Greenwich, London

BAY ART BLOG: The National Maritime Museum
                                       and Baffin Bay                           
Captain John Franklin.        
  Engraved inside the gold band reads, "Part of ye canoe used by Captn Franklin RN in his land Arctic Expedition 1819-22."  This historic ring cradles a sliver of wood decorated with a leaf border. The captain referenced is Sir John Franklin (1786-1847), the Arctic explorer who disappeared during an expedition and resulted in his wife spending years offering grand rewards for the discovery of her husband.

  The 59-year old captain, with a reputation for banning swearing and drunkenness with his crew, left England in 1845 as an experienced officer of the Royal Navy accompanied by 128 men.  He had explored the Canadian Arctic previously three times, but this would be his last. The men were last seen in Baffin Bay waiting for good weather. 

A route thought to be taken during a search for Franklin. 
King William Island is near number 4.
   Franklin died on King Williams Island 11 June 1847 per a note found during a search that described the fatal incident, but searches for the captain and crew still continued. In 1981 scientists from the University of Alberta ran a study of the bodies of crew members and evidence revealed they had likely died of pneumonia and lead poisoning. Marks on the bones even suggested cannibalism. 
Iceberg in Baffin Bay.   
   Many search expeditions took route through Baffin Bay, named after William Baffin in 1616. It is connected to the Arctic and the Atlantic oceans and is mainly not navigable except for the North Water that provides air for aquatic life. In 1933, Baffin Bay experienced a strong 7.3 magnitude earthquake, the largest known north of the Arctic Circle. There are frequent winter storms with average temperatures -4 to -18 degrees Fahrenheit.  Summer temperatures average 45 degrees Fahrenheit with about 4-10 inches of rain annually. About 20,000 Beluga whales are known to live there along with walrus, seals, fox and polar bears. Hunting has been restricted to protect the wildlife. Fish include cod, flounder, herring and halibut.  Birds include the Snowy Owl.

The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.
  The National Maritime Museum is home to the world's largest maritime library dating back to the 15th century. Founded in 1934, it is located by the 17th-century Queen's House and the 1950's Royal Observatory in Greenwich. The buildings began in 1807 as a school for the children of seafarers. Today's collection includes maritime art, maps, manuscripts, ship models, navigational instruments and more. In 2011 the museum opened its largest wing, The Sammy Offer Wing that includes exhibitions, a permanent gallery, a cafe, library and archive.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Yao Lu's New Landscape Part 1 - Ancient Spring Time Fey, 2006.
Courtesy of 798 Photo Gallery, Beijing.  Copyright Yao Lu.

BAY ART BLOG: Science Museum Arts Projects
                                       and the Bohai Sea                            
   Ancient Chinese landscapes take us to dreamy spiritual place where man is in harmony with nature. But take a closer look and you will see a mountain of rubbish shrouded by a green cloth reflecting contemporary China's rapid urbanization. This digitally manipulated photo won the 2008 BMW Paris photo prize for photography and has since been exhibited around the world. 

Yao Lu by Emmanuel Nguyen Ngoc/Paris photo.

   Photographer Yao Lu's work reflects his love for the past and concern for the disappearance of China's natural environment. He was born in 1967, studied as Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing and received a Master of Visual Arts at Queensland College of Art, Griffith University in Brisbane Australia. Currently he teaches at The School of Design at The Central Academy of Fine Arts.

  Beijing is near the Bohai Sea known as one of the busiest seaways in the world and the most southerly sea in the northern hemisphere in which sea ice can form. For some time, fishermen have farmed the waters for sea cucumbers, but unfortunately during the summer of 2011, three oil spills occurred over two-months. Reports boast dead seaweed, rotting fish and a sharp decline in marine life.  

Science Museum Arts Projects, London

  You can view Yao Lu's work at The Science Museum Arts Project's on-line archive. In 1857, the museum was founded as part of the South Kensington Museum, but  since 1909 it has been independent. Today it is known for historical collections, vast galleries and inspiring exhibitions. The museum highlights contemporary art reflecting the marriage of art, science and technology.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


    W.B. Gould, Leafy sea dragon in Gould's Sketchbook of Fishes, c1832, 
     watercolour on paper, The State Library of Tasmania.

BAY ART BLOG:  The State Library of Tasmania,
                                       near Great Oyster Bay                            
      To fall in love with bays is to fall in love with it's magical creatures. This whimsical sea dragon is one of thirty-six, 7.3" x  8.9 " sketches created by William B. Gould, an English and Australian artist. Only six of the sketches were signed, none were dated and the common and species names were penciled by others. The collection includes: Flounder, Perch, Toad fish, Pipe fish and Snake eel to name a few. 

Portrait of W. B. Gould.
   The sketches were created in Tasmania while Gould was a servant to a student of natural history, Dr. De Little. He asked Gould to paint what he saw on the beaches not knowing the artworks would become a collection of historical significance. While living in England, Gould had established a criminal record and was eventually sentenced in 1827 to serve seven years in Australia for theft of a coat. Although he finally gained his freedom, he never returned to England. 

  The original leather bound sketchbook is in the State Library of Tasmania, although in poor condition.  In 2001, author Richard Flanagan wrote an award-winning fictional novel about the artist titled, Gould's Book of Fish: A Novel in Twelve Fish. The Weedy sea dragon decorates the book's cover as it does others. The sketchbook was recognized in 2011 as a document of world significance by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It also contains the first record of a number of species and is still used today by scientists.

  The Great Oyster Bay.
  Tasmania is known for amazing bays including the Great Oyster Bay, located on the east coast and once occupied by Aborigines. The tribe harvested oysters and hunted birds during the off season. Since the 1970's Pacific oysters, native oysters, scallops and mussels have been cultivated through aqua cultures. The invasive Rice grass plant (native to Europe, Asia and North America) has caused problems for the oyster gardeners. Additional native animals include various possums, the Water rat and the Tasmanian devil who has dropped population due to Devil facial tumor disease.

The State Library of Tasmania.
   The State Library of Tasmania operates as part of their Department of Education and is located in Hobart. The Reference Library contains over 200,000 books, periodicals and maps and operates several collections and archives of historical publications and documents related to Tasmania.