Unraveling the Mariners Way ball

Posted: 27 July 2013.
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Last month I went back to the University of Exeter and unraveled the 1,300metres of knotted rope which is going to be changed into another sculpture along the Mariners Way walk; a passage house. This was new ground for me and I was intrigued to explore how the tarred rope had weathered. On first impression the rope had executed what I had intended. The colour of the rope has changed from its thick dark tar to a light and mature silvery grey. When I investigated the rope further I realised that it looked more like linked steel chains than knots which I thought gave it an interesting element to the piece in connection to the tall ships centuries ago.

After finding the end of the rope I began to unclip the whipping rope that held the outside pattern together.

Now that the first layer of rope is undone it is clear that this discoloration in the rope has been more affected in the areas of direct sunlight.

As more of the layers of rope come off the sculpture I find some sort of mushroom living on the rope. Parts of the rope break away. It appears that the tar that was used to prevent the rope from decaying did not last as long as I had envisaged.

When more rope is unwound, approximately 300 metres, it becomes clear that a white fungus is living inside the sculpture and has joined some of the layers of rope together.

Unraveling the rope becomes more cumbersome and the rope needs to be delicately taken apart. Still it’s a sunny day and the sculpture did get a lot of attention from passers by!

With 700metres of the rope raveled in spools I decide to take the ball and complete the rest of the process in the studio. The effected fungus rope will need to be treated, washed, dried and re-knotted before it can be made into a passage house in September.

-Ed

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