There’s nothing like a powerful piece of public art to make a statement that sticks with you.
One of five pieces of public art that’s part of the Quidi Vidi Art Search, “Moratorium Cod Drying” is a statement on one of the most significant turning points in the province’s history (thoughtfully and carefully created in wood, metal and glass) and a reminder of the resilience and fortitude of the people.
We caught up with Kevin-Barry to dive deeper into the significance of “Moratorium Cod Drying”, the fine balance between the old and new, and the innovative use of old cod liver oil bottles (read on!).
Business & Arts NL: Your piece “Moratorium Cod Drying” seems perfectly at home in Quidi Vidi Village. Can you tell us a bit about how the location factors into the artwork and about the statement it makes overall?
Kevin-Barry Martin: The location of “Moratorium Cod Drying” couldn’t be any more perfect. The architecture of the Inn correlates with the sculpture by integrating both the old and new and making sense of traditional components into new structures. It also tells the story of Quidi Vidi Village through its past, present and future. While many fish were caught and dried by the resilient fisherman in the area, the events of 1992 had a tremendous impact on residents. “Moratorium Cod Drying” is not only symbolic of the struggles and hardships of the people, it is also a memory of a place and time when life was more simple. As such, the kinetic sculpture is a reminder to slow down and enjoy what we have, so that we do not miss out on what’s most important.
Business & Arts NL: What was your process like for creating this piece?
KBM: The idea of “Moratorium Cod Drying” was first imagined as a single hanging fish for a personal collection. However, when given the opportunity to expand on the concept, several factors came into play. It was Newfoundland weather that dictated what materials to use so that the sculpture would withstand the test of time. The wood and metal components had to therefore be adapted to be strong enough to carry the weight of the hanging fish while weathering to look rugged over years of exposure to the elements. Piece by piece, through trial and error, the fish and clothesline came together to become “Moratorium Cod Drying”.
Business & Arts NL: Is there any special significance regarding the materials that were used to create “Moratorium Cod Drying”?
KBM: “Moratorium Cod Drying” is a conversation piece that encompasses both the old and the new. The eyes of the fish are made of antique cod liver oil bottles that were discarded over several decades. As well, copper rosehead nails that were meant for boat building were reinvented as chin whiskers on the fish heads. The new components, such as the materials used for the clothesline, are a symbol of the inherited sense of community that provides Newfoundlanders with the strength to come together through the hardships.
Business & Arts NL: What do you hope your piece will help contribute to the visitor experience for those who come by to explore the area?
KBM: My hope is to give visitors a chance to reflect on the symbiotic relationship of Newfoundland and Labrador’s rich history with the sea. As such, “Moratorium Cod Drying” is meant as a steady reminder of what can happen if we do not question common practices. Understanding this relationship is key to maintaining a strong connection to the environment.