To the girls who painted The Mauritania

We are getting ready for the second workshop in the creative writing series, The Response. Tomorrow will see Sheree lead a workshop at the Hatton Gallery in response to The Screaming Steel exhibition there. It is a full workshop with the capacity met a few weeks ago. There seems to be a demand for these workshops. Make sure you book your place for the series starting in the New Year.

It seems fitting therefore to share  a piece of writing created during the last workshop held at Tyne and Wear Archives at Discovery Museum which responded to the Rivers at War exhibition. This piece was created by Caroline Kemp.

Dazzle-ships in drydock at Liverpool
Painting of Dazzle-ships in Drydock at Liverpool, by Edward Wadsworth, 1919

Caroline writes: To the girls who painted The Mauritania…a diamond design Picasso would covet…the ship that looked dressed in a post modern gown..plenty camouflage and thick maquillage…how they laboured over the paint.

My arms are weary, my neck stiff, rigid shoulders seized tight. I am turning into metal. My body feels like hard metal. These razzle dazzle geometrics make my eyes sore, head spin.  The paint smells dizzy, heavy. My head thuds.
I try to hold my breathing steady.  Focus on the soft brush of paint on metal, hold the moment together.  Water, clear water would be heaven now.
I long to go over the black line, choose another colour, a colour of life.  Not always this dead black or corpse white. The world seems bleached of colour, dying. The colour drained. All is grey and black and white. I long for some blue, a piece of the sea or the sky, frothy pink clouds, and seaskyblues.  But all we are ever given is black and white.
At night the ghost of the ship haunts me, interrupting, intersecting.  She sighs and leaks, water echoing, soughing.  I cannot find my way out.  All the lines run into one another, blurring.  The razzle dazzle seems to have failed.  I am sure we were hit.  It is not a near miss.  I am choking, my hair and clothes smell of paint and oil. I cannot breathe.  Air precious air..I need air.
In the sputtering choking moment no words come out.

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