Inspired by the unique structure of the Precious Wentletrap shell – a conical spiral supported by external arches – this project set out to re-create its form in a variety of media, and also examined the 18th-century East-West trade in shells and similar natural wonders.
A fictitious blog recreating the life of an 18th-century Dutch East Indies mariner obsessed with finding the shell was created.
The large-scale version of the shell below was created from stiffened tights, and features towards the end of the mariner’s story. A leather-bound manuscript diary of the mariner’s story was created to parallel his blog. Similarly his voyage was tracked on both Google Earth and an 18th-century Dutch map.
His fictional voyage, following the Dutch East India Company’s trade routes, was engraved on a contemporary stainless steel globe, echoing the fascination with globes seen in 18th-century Dutch still lifes.
Throughout his voyage chalk drawings on large blackboards illustrated events created in the fictitious blog;the drawings were constantly erased and worked over, indicating the passing of time.