Three Ships

By Michelle Ray
Tuscaloosa, Alabama: Michelle Ray, 2012. Edition of 35.

5.625 x 4.5 x 1.375" shadowbox with one-sheet print plus errata card. Images and text created with photopolymer plates. Printed on Somerset Book papers and museum board. Contained in cloth covered clamshell box with boat scene in bottom. Paper fold-out enclosure adhered to interior lid with print and card laid in. Print: 3 x 4" closed, opens to 9 x 8"; one sheet folded. Errata card: 4 x 3" printed on one side. Illustrated title label tipped on cover of clamshell box.

Michelle Ray: "Three Ships is an archive and travel shrine assembled in memory of the life boats, Stancomb Wills, Dudley Docker and James Caird; Ernest Shackleton's Antarctic stash of Rare and old Highland malt whiskey; safety and foolishness. It is an exploration in mnemonic devices and the relationship between time, memory and seeing. The title, Three Ships, is taken from An Exercise for Kurt Johannessen (2010), by permission of the author, Sarah Bodman. This edition was created as a part of the BookArtObject Edition Four portfolio."

And: "[Three Ships] was produced as a part of an international portfolio exchange entitled "BookArtObject." For the exchange, each of the participants was given a title from the book, An Exercise for Kurt Johannessen, and was asked to run from there. While the piece itself has nothing to do with An Exercise, I used the chapter title, "Three Ships," to create a theme based on Shackleton's three lifeboats. It helps to have a little historical knowledge of Shackleton's travels to understand the book I suppose, but there's no inside secret afoot in the piece. It's essentially a sentimental memory object created to honor the discovery of Shackleton's whiskey stash in the Antarctic."

Ernest Shackleton, Anglo-Irish polar explorer, left behind 3 crates of Highland malt whiskey (and 2 crates of brandy) after his unsuccessful attempt in 1909 to reach the South Pole. Later, In the Trans Antarctica Expedition (1914-1917), Shackleton's Endurance was trapped in pack ice and had to be abandoned. Shackleton and his party were left with 3 lifeboats that had offloaded. Their ordeal and subsequent rescue is legend.

* Note: Recently Associated Press noted that "Three bottles of rare, 19th-century Scotch found at Antarctic explorer Ernest Shack­elton’s abandoned hut were returned to the polar continent Saturday after a distiller flew them to Scotland to recreate the long-lost recipe. Antarctica’s minus-22 Fahren­heit temperature was not enough to freeze the Mackinlay whisky, bottled in 1898."