BY DARRYN LEE
THE NORTH SEA
Would we know today how poor Norway once was, if in 1889 Christian Krogh had not painted,
"The struggle for existence"?
Oil will disappear from under the sea floor one day and so will the workers. They are to be replaced by digitalization and robots. Unmanned Oil platforms controlled from land are the future. In October 2018 Equinor opened Oseberg H platform. This was the first fully automated oil platform in Norway. It does not sleep, eat or complain about the weather. Norway has become rich from oil and every level of society has benefited. Norway once reliant on the fishing and boat building industry has turned to oil. Robots supply food in fish farms to fish imprisoned in machine made nets. The largest fish factory vessel in the world Damanzaihao, is capable of processing 547,000 tons of fish per year. If the offshore workers are not documented, did they ever exist?
On January 15th the year 2020, I started a project which involves the completion of 14 oil paintings on canvas documenting the lives of oil workers on Valhall oil platform in the North Sea. The project has been funded by people working in the oil industry. The reason I have chosen 14 paintings is because I want to paint as many departments as possible. I will paint real offshore life from the cleaner making the beds to the drillers on the drill floor. The drillers are often called the “Porcelain rotation” because they are so valuable.
Scandinavian artists have created lots of wonderful paintings documenting the lives of fishermen. Artist like P.S.Krøyer and Carl Sundt Hansen depicted their lives in detail. In 2011-12 I studied these artists in Stavanger Kunstmuseum and it was an amazing experience. It was these artists that have influenced most the style of my artwork. The offshore oil worker, is today’s fisherman but who paints them? To be the first in the world to document their lives as they perform their functional duties with oil paint and canvas. I will live and work beside them for the next year sharing their highs and lows. I know my subject because I am an offshore worker and have been for the past 12 years. Jackson Pollock said, “Every great painter paints what he is”.
The future is coming that's inevitable. Spot the robot dog is on it's way to SKARV oil field as I write this, maybe next year the drillers work will be replaced by a new robot arm called DR-1500. The robots are coming, and we are probably the last generation of offshore oil worker.
We don’t want to be forgotten.
“Every great painter paints what he is.”
©2019 by Darryn Lee