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Seafarers chart their journeys

04 Jun 2015

Seafarers chart their journeys Image

An installation at the Mission to Seafarers’ Norla Dome last month saw the space transformed into a large-scale compass.

Drawn on the floor in chalk, the actual journeys of visiting seafarers were recorded on the compass throughout the two-week installation.

Created by associate professor of design Margaret Woodward the project aimed to connect with the journeys of seafarers who visited the mission and was part of an ongoing research project into the “social life” of souvenirs.

“Background research for this project involved discussions with volunteers, staff from Port of Melbourne and ex-seafarers, whose concern is for the welfare of seafarers,” Ms Woodward said.

“They highlighted the loneliness and isolation of contemporary seafaring, quick turnarounds and short stays in port, dangerous conditions at sea, the regimented working life and the impact of these factors on seafarers’ families.”

Across two weeks, Ms Woodward welcomed seafarers into the gallery and recorded journeys from 22 visiting ships and seafarers on the large-scale compass.

Seafarers were also welcomed with tea and cake and offered a souvenir enamel mug printed with a QR code, which they were invited to use to record their future journeys.

Ms Woodward thanked all the seafarers who had been scanning their mugs from their new destinations including Singapore, Brisbane, Fremantle, Adelaide and Busan.

“The project aimed to make a personal connection with the seafarers, using a souvenir object, as a vehicle of welcome and connection and also to trigger intangible, affective qualities – reminders of journeys and places, and new associations with tastes sounds and people,” Ms Woodward said.

She said she was looking forward to taking the project in new directions based on its success in Melbourne.

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