CAMMELL LAIRD RESIDENCY

2000-2001

Work commissioned by Arts Council of England and Cammell Laird Shipyard, Birkenhead

 

PHOSPHORESCENT LEVELS

 

The sheer scale of the shipyard’s facilities and the physical toil of its operations were echoed in Phosphorescent Levels. In preparing a dry dock for ships, workers use lengths of clear plastic tubing filled with water as a horizontal level finder, while plumb lines establish the vertical. In a long, laborious operation involving over a kilometre of rope, Mackinnon-Day suspended forty fifteen-metre lengths of the plastic tubing vertically along the length of Dry Dock 4. Filled with phosphorescent sea water and fluorescent light sticks, the tubes glowed green in the murky shadow of the empty dock, while cast lead bobs hanging from their ends scratched marks in the muddy bottom as they swayed about.