The transformation of materials from one state to another, as well as circular journeys both real and metaphorical, form a large part of Simon Starling’s work, which he has described as ‘the physical manifestation of a thought process.’ Project for a Rift Valley Crossing (2015–16) saw Starling construct a canoe out of magnesium extracted from 1,900 litres of seawater. The work evolved from the artist’s interest in the British engineer Frank Kirk, who in the 1980s built light-weight magnesium bike frames using the same method. The magnesium used to create Starling’s boat was extracted from the politically charged waters of the Dead Sea, which as the artist explains is also ‘the most concentrated source of magnesium in the world’. After exhibiting the boat in his solo exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary in 2016, Starling returned it to its source and used it to make the difficult crossing from Israel to Jordan.
Purchased with funds from the Thornton Bequest, generously given to the nation by the estate of Elfrida Louise Thornton in 1951. Historically the gift has supported the casting of sculpture by British artists and in that spirit, the Arts Council Collection has supported Simon Starling to complete this work.
- Artwork Details: 53 x 474 x 85cm
- Material description: Canoe cast in Dead Sea magnesium, 2 paddles, 2 canvas seats, Dead Sea water, tanks, wooden welding jig, 2 silver gelatin prints
- Credit line: © the artist. Acquired with funds from the Thornton Bequest.
- Accession number: ACC28/2016