Nerine Martini

Life Boat / Thuyen Cuu Roi

Size: 65 x 335 x 505 cm.

Materials: Wood, steel, lead, lacquer

Exhibited at the Museum of Ethnology, 2006, Hanoi, Vietnam;
Sculpture By the Sea, Bondi 2007, Sydney;
Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Awards, 2008, Werribee Park, Victoria.
Winner of the Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Popular Choice Award.
Purchased 2008 by artsACT, for permanent public display in Canberra.

Life Boat/ Thuyen Cuu Roi is about ocean journeys of courage and compassion. This sculpture is constructed from an old wooden boat which came from Hoi An, a town in the centre of Vietnam. The boat was originally used for trading goods such as ceramics, bronze, fish sauce, pepper, herbs and incense from Vietnam to countries in the region such as China, Indonesia and Malaysia.

The people refer to this boat as a "pregnant boat" (ghe bau) because of the shape of the vessel and its ability to carry many things. Eyes are painted onto the front of the boat as a symbol of warning and to protect the boat and its passengers. The arms are made from carved recycled timber and coated with lacquer using traditional Vietnamese techniques. The hand gestures were inspired by the statue, One Thousand Arms One Thousand Eyes, seen at the Bút Tháp Pagoda near Hanoi.

Photographs at Sculpture by the Sea: Louise Beaumont, George V'Myer