Sacred Ocean: Inspiration under the African moon

25 July 2008

From Noel Ashton’s studio in Cape Town

“For many years I have watched with horror and dismay as the whaling ships leave port and head towards the Southern Ocean Sanctuary in pursuit of whales.
A shiver runs down my spine when I recall the deeply disturbing images of the hunt…of the harpooned whale thrashing in the water as it slowly dies, red blood in the blue water, tortured death-throws lasting up to an hour.

I am deeply disturbed by these events....

....and I am not alone.
Around the world hundreds of thousands of people are horrified by these brutal actions, but they have found no single voice to speak of their feelings.
I would like this sculpture to become their voice.”

Noel Ashton, 2008

Sitting by the fire under a rising African moon, the concept of the Sacred Ocean sculpture came to me. To the ancient peoples of this vast continent, fireside times were opportunities to connect with the mysterious inner and outer beings, and to express this through stories, images and dance. For me that night was one of those rare moments when inspiration and creativity merged in a flash of focused energy; and with time the form of the sculpture was slowly borne out of the smoke and the sparks of the fire, and it finally became real when I grappled with large charcoal drawings in the studio. It was only when the sun returned that the image was complete, fought over and meaded, pulled slowly from the recesses of my wandering mind.

As I worked on the sculpture over the next few days, I would now and
then slip into differing realities - at times I would be in the water
with the whales, the sparkling surface overhead dappling light on the
mother and calf as they glided by in an incredible ocean stillness.

Other moments were spent grappling with the mighty bones, as they
formed into graceful curves like sacred gothic arches, threatening to
topple upon me unless I balanced them carefully. Underneath all I
encountered the soul, the spiritual connection which spoke to me
through the emotions, and I knew that this sculpture had to be brought
into the light of day, and that I would invite the world to join me in
my wish to make this sculpture stand for the whales...silently and
alone, but with pure and focused intent. Although the sculpture is
primarily an anti-whaling statement and icon, a physical extension of
my inner voice, for me it is also a testament to the magnificent whales
with which we share this blue ocean home.

I therefore wish to honour
and celebrate them, and to ask people to bear witness to the importance
that whales have in their lives, from creation stories to the
reawakening present, for there is an ancient mystical aspect and
connection with these mammals of the deep, which is far beyond rational
thought. So join me in celebrating their lives, and striving to save
them from the dark brutality and hideous slaughter that brought many
species to the very edge of extinction. Become part of the global voice
against the cruelty of whaling.

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