Sea Fever


The Sea Fever Project is a collaboration between artists Mike Perry (UK) and Bruno Van Dijck (Belgium), including contributions from poet Philip Gross (UK) and jazz trumpeter Pete Judge (UK). It is a ‘revisitation’ of the John Masefield poem Sea Fever (1902) and John Ireland’s classic musical score (1913).

Philip Gross and Pete Judge performing at Cwm Gwylog beach, Wales 2016

The project opens with an exhibition at De Queeste Art in Watou, Belgium, 20th November – 18th December 2016.

The exhibition includes photographs from Mike Perry’s Môr Plastig (Plastic Sea) series and paintings by Flemish Painter Bruno Van Dijck. Both artists have chosen works that reference the beach, Cwm Gwylog (Welsh for Lookout Bay), which is a few minutes walk from Mike Perry’s studio in north Pembrokeshire, West Wales. Perry has chosen photographs of plastic objects washed up at Cwm Gwylog and Bruno Van Dijck has included a series of oil paintings that he made at the beach over the summer of 2015.

Both artists present contemporary interpretations of John Masefield’s famously romantic poem, which laments a sailors cry to return to the sea. In Perry’s case, the focus is plastic pollution and what we might be leaving behind for future generations. Van Dijck offers up his oil paintings in a sarcophagus as if they are part of a funeral rite. Both bodies of work reflect ecological concerns for the state of our oceans and a powerful counter to the romantic aspirations of John Masefield’s original poem.

Perry’s highly detailed digital photographs offer an interesting contrast to Van Dijck’s use of traditional painting technique and materials. Whilst Van Dijck’s scratchy abstractions of disappearing coastlines are ‘painted landscapes’, Perry’s ‘micro landscapes’, as he calls them, expose nature’s impact on the man-made. Both sets of work leave us with a feeling that nature will sculpt our world and do it’s thing whatever we throw at it, whether we humans are here or not.

Mike Perry, Glove 2
Cwm Gwylog, Pembrokeshire, Wales 2013
Digital Print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag
Mike Perry, Shoe 2
Cwm Gwylog, Pembrokeshire, Wales 2013
Digital Print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag

The exhibition catalogue includes an introduction by Belgium writer Jeroen Laureyns and a poem written for the project by Philip Gross titled Three Fevers and A Fret. Extract below:

Philip Gross reading Three Fevers and a Fret (2016)
Cwm Gwylog, Pembrokeshire, Wales, August 2016

Three Fevers and a Fret (verse 4)

I am sick, sea says. You must listen. Sick
of many things, including your (pathetic)
fallacies. That song you thought you heard
wasn’t mine… At last night’s bins in the deserted
market, listen; the snatch-mobs of dawn
are at those innards spilled as if your own,
the day’s trick. And the tall ships stitching
trade routes round the earth, to bag, to cash
and carry…
Listen closer. Catch the glitter-
swish of shoals switching grey-silver-grey to
off. The shiver-to-stillness of the coral
bleaching. The slow spreading of the spill
to pools of silence. The hundred-mile spool
of whale song snapped. I have no words for you.

Philip Gross (2016)

Pete Judge’s trumpet solo, Sea Fever – Revisited (2016), recorded on location at Cwm Gwylog, is a melancholic re-interpretation of John Ireland’s (1913) original Sea Fever composition.

Pete Judge playing Sea Fever (based on original music by John Ireland 1913)
Cwm Gwylog, Pembrokeshire, Wales, August 2016
Van Dijck, Cwm Gwylog – 2016, Acryl, charcoal and chalk on conservation board 328 x 328 mm
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