BY DARRYN LEE
THE NORTH SEA
My project Offshore Life started in the beginning of 2020. The project is about documenting the oil workers' lives at my workplace, Valhall oil platform in the North Sea. The final pieces will be done with oil paint on canvas. I have selected 14 main motifs that I feel represent the real oil industry offshore. I will paint everything from catering, scaffolding to the drillers on the drilling floor. The drillers in our industry are often called the "porcelain rotation" because they are so valuable. The project has been funded by colleagues working in the oil industry.
Technology is making enormous progress and even before the oil runs out, the workers on the oil platforms will be replaced by digitization and automation. Unmanned oil platforms controlled from land are the future. In October 2018, Equinor launched Oseberg H platform. This is the first fully automatic oil platform in Norway. It does not sleep, eat or complain about the weather. Norway has become rich from the oil industry and all levels of society have benefited. As they say, "A rising tide lifts all boats".
Before oil, the fishing and boat building were the main industries in Norway. Scandinavian artists have created fantastic paintings that document the lives of fishermen. Artists such as P.S. Krøyer and Carl Sundt Hansen described the fishermen's lives in detail. In 2011-2012, I studied these artists' works in Stavanger Art Museum and it was a fantastic experience. It is these artists who have influenced most the creative mediums in my artwork.
The offshore oil workers are today's fishermen, but who will paint them? I am the first in the world to document the lives of offshore oil workers with oil paint on canvas. I will work alongside them and share their ups and downs. I have been able to celebrate them because I have had an offshore worker and have been one of them the past twelve years. Jackson Pollock said, "Every great painter paints what he is." The future is coming. It is inevitable. At the time of writing, Spot the robot dog is on its way to the Skarv oil field. Will the drillers work next year be replaced by a new robot arm called DR-1500?
The robots are coming and we are probably the last generation of offshore oil workers. We do not want to be forgotten.
That's why I must paint because I can.
“Every great painter paints what he is.”
©2019 by Darryn Lee