Bill Woodrow Ship In A Bottle 2003

Bill Woodrow
Ship In A Bottle
© the artist

A pair of hands is holding a large glass bottle within which we can see a model ship. It is a three-master, with all sails unfurled, on a bit of wavey sea. The hands of the person holding the bottle can be seen, he is on a cliff-top and a section of this can be found in the bottom-right hand corner. The ship in a bottle is being held up in front of an actual sea-scape which is simply drawn as a horizon line. Just below the horizon there is a tiny little ship, almost too small to find but if you feel it closely it is similar to the ship in the bottle. A black dot of a sun sits in the top right hand corner.

A ship in a bottle is like a piece of story-telling. Produced by sailors on long sea missions, they are puzzles in which we have to guess how all that detail got passed through the narrow neck of the bottle.

And to a blind person, a ship in a bottle might just feel like any ordinary bottle. The interior cannot be accessed via touch, so this drawing opens up this previously inaccessible subject and enables us to feel through the glass to the object beneath. This ship in a bottle has become a message in a bottle.