We are pleased to present two pieces by the talented Norfolk artist, Caroline Hack, as part of our exhibition at our Dumbarton Museum – All Mortal Greatness is But Disease. Hack is an accomplished mixed media artist who works with textiles, printmaking, and handmade books. Her artistic inspiration is drawn mainly from Herman Melville’s famous novel, Moby-Dick, and the history of British Arctic Whaling. Hack’s love for Whaling has taken her around the world to whaling sites, research centres, and museums in Europe, America, and Canada, allowing her to create a vast collection of work and develop her visual language in response to the history and practice of Whaling.
For our exhibition, Hack has created a new work, The Shetland Whaling Station, which is inspired by the history of whaling in Shetland. In 1903-1904, Norwegian Whaling companies set up shore-based whaling stations in Shetland, where the animals, particularly Blue and Fin whales, were hunted with small and fast steam-driven catcher ships firing explosive harpoon guns. The textile work, which draws on old navigation charts and imagery of whales and whaling, is a reflection of this history.
Alongside her latest piece, we also have a textile panel completed by Hack in 2018 titled Right Whales Historically Regarded. The piece depicts a skeleton of a mother and an unborn calf on display at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, reflecting on how whales have been and continue to be killed. The Right Whales are named as such because they were considered the ‘right’ whales to hunt. Their bodies floated instead of sinking when killed, which made them easier to process. With their thick, oil-rich blubber and long baleen, they were the main target of Arctic whalers.
Hack has showcased her work in various exhibitions worldwide, including the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Fife, where she had an exhibition titled Arctic Ventures: forgotten stories of Scottish Whaling. Earlier this year, she created a commemorative tarpaulin cover for a harpoon gun at the Scott Polar Museum in Cambridge, titled ReCover. In 2020 (and restaged in 2022), she showed several pieces as part of Scoresby’s Arctic, an exhibition at Whitby Museum, which she also co-curated alongside museum curator Fiona Barnard.
If you’re interested in learning more about Caroline Hack’s work, please visit her website: http://www.carolinehack.com/