Nor Any Drop to Drink
By Gail Lemasurier

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Year
1993
Media
Printmaking
Subject Matter
Abstract
Reg. Number
P506
Size
84.5 x 64.5 cm

This vivid screen print is based on a line from Coleridge's poem 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner'. In the poem, the old sailor relates his tragic story. By killing an albatross, he brings bad luck to himself and his ship. His shipmates, who all later die, punish him by fastening the albatross round his neck. The ship is becalmed, and he goes mad with thirst:

Water, water every where
And all the boards did shrink
Water, water every where
Nor any drop to drink.

While the albatross remains round his neck, he suffers under the strong sun and has hallucinations about sea-monsters. Lemasurier's artwork, which at first may seem like an abstract swirl of colours, uses some of the images from Coleridge's poem. The viewer can see the ship, its dark pink hull and mast outlined against a white background. Its white and blue sails may also remind us of the wide wings of the albatross. One can also see the burning sun, the sea and the fish below. Coleridge uses colourful language to describe the scene, and the mariner's confused state of mind. The predominant colours in the screen print are shades of red, pink, orange and yellow. These emphasise the burning heat of the sun, which has caused the mariner's thirst and delusions. Shades of blue and green indicate the sea and the sea creatures.

The print is one of twelve prints from a series produced by the Edinburgh Printmakers' Workshop in 1993. The overall title of the series is, 'Oaharra! Oaharra! The Sea! The Sea!'. The puzzling title is actually a rendition into English lettering of an ancient Greek word, which is usually pronounced (and written) 'Thalatta! Thalatta!', as opposed to the modern Greek spelling, ???????, and pronunciation, "thalassa".) Xenophon, the general who wrote an account of the retreat of the Greek army after fighting the Persians, said this was the cry of the 10,000 soldiers when they first saw the Black Sea, and realised they would be able to get home to Greece.

Gail studied Fine Art Printmaking at Manchester Metropolitan University graduating in 1990, after which she moved to Edinburgh. Gail has since trained as an Art Psychotherapist and now works full time in the health service.

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