Day 10 – Mon 6 Feb: ‘NMM presentation’

Day 10: ‘National Maritime Museum Presentation’
Session 9

Today we presented to Kevin Sumption Director of the National Maritime Museum.

The animation sequence chosen to be primary piece focused largely on the abstract perspective of the estuary, namely the emotional and rational state, framed as one state being an intruder over the other to the point where these two states combine as one eclectic entity (Gulley 1964). In our piece we wanted the schismogenesis (when dynamic forces meet in a system it can be harmonic or divisive) of the intruder (emotional state) to ‘take over’ the rationale but in this case the emotion was taken from stance of positive psychology (SevernEstuaryArtAtlas n.d).


Lou was our group’s chosen spokesperson and she presented beautifully our concise statement, which essentially embodied the following:

The Estuary is a space where dynamic forces are in play yet it is a meeting place of these elements. Our piece explores when saltwater meets with freshwater in an estuarial space. Taking into account that the National Maritime Museum is a treasure chest of oceanic backstories, this artwork explores antiquity framed in Homeric and Platonic notions of emotion and rationale and whether these states converge in an estuarial space for its viewers, in order that they may find that metaphoric and meditative stillness where freshwater meets saltwater.

Colour palette deliberately chosen to be black and white as this is palette triggers that the visual language that this semiotics, in play and the image is not meant to be read as literal. The public reading of the piece in panoramic view becomes an individual reading as the viewer is drawn into the meditative visual of the ink/dye diffusing into the oil.

We were delighted that Kevin received our piece as meditative, which meant that our intent of interpreting the literal Estuary as a meeting place (where saltwater and freshwater merge) into a metaphoric estuary where emotional and rational states can co-exit in a harmonic schismogenesis (Bateson 1972). However, Kevin did ask the question, ‘How do you measure the success of a piece?, which could have been euphemistic for you ‘You ain’t quite there!’

I took copious notes as I personally felt, with this project aside, that Kevin’s feedback was invaluable to how an artist/designer would approach a piece of work, taking into account the designated space – and it’s ambient noise, and placement with the space; demographics of their audience; mindset of the audience and much more.


However, in regards to this project, and acknowledging our time constraints, the points Kevin brought up had to be considered quickly. In essence, Kevin’s main point that he kept reiterating was summed up in one phrase he used of himself – he saw his role at the NMM as an ‘ADVOCATE OF THE AUDIENCE’. (McKever 2009)

Hence, one of the driving factors in improving our piece was all based on the audience, who they were; how they would perceive the film; how we wanted them to perceive the piece.

This meant we had to delve into the audience mindset and utilise devices which who draw them into a mindset we wanted them to be in to experience our piece fully. The 360-degree screen played a main role in getting our audience immersed in the film however although Kevin was able to recognise our piece as meditative, there is a recognition that the meditative estuary may not have been attained by all visitors of the museum, as Kevin would be categorised as a ‘sophisticated audience’, recognising the visual language of the piece and hence respond to those triggers. (Chong 2008, p.126) However, Kevin placed a foot in both camps and hence gave us the feedback we most needed for the piece to work in the museum space, which always stemmed back to the audience and their needs.


Bateson, G., 1972. Steps to an ecology of mind: Collected essays in anthropology, psychiatry, evolution, and epistemology. University of Chicago Press

Gulley, N. 1964, “Homer, Plato, and the Two Cultures.” The Classical Review, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 31–33.

McKever, R. 2009, ‘The Art of Business by Iain Robertson and Derrick Chong’, The Art Book, vol.16, pp. 34-35

SevernEstuaryArtAtlas n.d., Black Rock; Davina Kirkpatrick; 2013 – 2014, viewed 29 January 2017, <>


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