All posts by Helen Snell

LIQUID LANDSCAPES Diary Entry 14 Dress Rehearsal

Dress Rehearsal Rosalind


Dress Rehearsal Mayflower Steps Fri 19th June

Finished two further large mirror boats as spares in the morning and then drove down to Plymouth for noon.

Continue reading LIQUID LANDSCAPES Diary Entry 14 Dress Rehearsal



Rehearsal Mayflower Steps Weds 17th June

Stephan emailled me on Sunday night asking for at least four large boats to be ready for today! Felt a bit panicked as I was thinking I had until Friday’s dress rehearsal, and I was teaching all day Monday and Tuesday.

Continue reading LIQUID LANDSCAPES Diary Entry 13



Rehearsal Mayflower Steps 13th June

Boats in  bus shelter

I have made new sets of prototypes for the large boats, white and mirrored.

Glorious day! Took the train  down for morning rehearsal. Packed with people – lucky that the big boats were flat pack and I could put them on the luggage rack, and that a bus was waiting at Plymouth railway station to ferry me down to the Barbican otherwise there were some potential Charlie Chaplin moments for sure.

Continue reading LIQUID LANDSCAPES Diary entry 12


Laringytis 15th May

Struck down with laryingitis .

Made flag boat and pilgrim boats for my own amusement, using the basic boat template as a starting boat and then just seeing where my imagination took me

.Pilgrims blue

This project is prompting me to develop my own work in ways I never could have imagined which is great.

House Boat 1

Thinking about how I can develop the basic concept and where I can launch these new vessels is giving me plenty of food for thought.

Liquid Landscapes Diary 9






Sketching of different configurations 3 May

I have started to sketch out various configurations for boats by the  series of blue doors along from the Mayflower steps.

Boats Asterix shapesMy current thoughts are that the boats shouldn’t be in the water at the beginning of the performance (after what happened at Maidencombe).  They would also detract attention away from the dancers.

 Rather than tethering the boats in the water and running the risk of some capsizing and sinking before the end of the performance, the boats could be configured (beforehand and/or by dancers?) into patterns or groups that might anticipate and be suggestive of what is to come.Boats battle formation

At the end of the performance some of the boats could be released and float off into the sunset (weather permitting!!) to create a strong final image . We would need to fish out the remains  of the boats once the performance was over.

Liquid Landscapes Diary 8






School Cross Curricular Project


LIQUID LANDSCAPES has dovetailed beautifully with a new cross curricular project that we are starting  in the school where I am part- time head of art.

We had a lunchtime meeting with representatives from the following departments Art, History, Physics and Chemistry to discuss the theme of WATER as a starting point, (prompted by my my collaboration with S.K.).  I showed some of the boat prototypes and You Tube clips of TASKFORCE dancers in L.A..  Everyone fired up and off to do some research into boat design, speed , strength, evolution of keels, buoyancy (possible experiments with eggs), Sir Francis Drake, Spanish Armada, Mary Rose, Devonport, knots, semaphore. Need to find some paddling pools.

Liquid Landscapes Diary 7

CIMG5338_edited-1Maiden Voyage  Maidencombe

Another beautiful sunny day.

We went down to Maidencombe beach this afternoon to see how the boats ( with waxed bottoms!) fared in more demanding conditions. These boats are all about 60cm in length, which is the maximum length I can get out of A2 card. I could try attaching two sheets to make bigger boats which would have more visual impact, I don’t know if the join will make them more prone to sinking. (I’ll have a go anyway).
The white card and mirror card boats seemed pretty sturdy for about 30 mins – 45 mins (and were still ok. when I removed them, but slightly waterlogged), the coloured ones made of recycled card absorbed the water and lost their shape much faster, some sank and disintegrated (these were all attached with fishing line).

 We released the surviving orange boat out to sea . It was great to see it sail off into the distance…………….. That sense of freedom like releasing pigeons.CIMG5315
It would be wonderful if the dancers could release a few boats at the end, rather than them all being tethered for the duration.
Maybe we could scoop up any flotsam and jetsam after the performance with a fishing net  (perhaps Mr Fish and Ships might ferry us round for a clear up further out).



March 30, 2009

Coloured Boats

I have experimented with recycled coloured card. The colours are slightly faded 1950s, reminiscent of old school exercise books.

I made one boat in each colour and experimented with stacking them, arranging them in rows, circles and so on.

I photographed them in the garden against the vivid green grass.

Very positive response from Stephan and Lara when I emailed the photos.

I am starting to get a clearer idea of the overall feel now.



First Launch in France
April 6

Have just got back from France. Next to where we were staying at my French in laws in Cluny there is an 18th century lavoir, high ceiling, dark still slow moving waters. A very grand, almost theatrical building for the most monotonous of tasks. Now a forgotten place, tucked away in the old part of town, some grafitti etched on the walls, but no one about. An old coat and beer bottle left on the wide stone shelf that once served as storage space in the washhouse for all the baskets, now an unforgiving bunk bed with its remnants of a makeshift stop over.

It is not hard to imagine all those women wrestling with their laundry in the cold water, the loud voices, the gossip, a cathartic space away from the menfolk

I worked all morning making some prototypes. The afternoon light was fantastic, shafts of sunshine entering the lavoir through the pillared entrance, dark angular shadows and sharp reflections in the water, like a mirror.


The coloured boats lasted about 20 minutes before they started to very gracefully sink (the card is totally untreated here – with wax or varnish they would last much longer). The untreated thicker card stood up much better and they still hadn’t sunk after about 45 minutes. This was obviously very still water so no waves to contend with – this will be my next mission. The higher sided boats caught the wind and moved more as if they had little motors – very cute!(they will resist waves too I imagine).

I played about with cutting the sides into tree and scallop shapes for my own entertainment, but they are too frilly for the commission I suspect.

On the way back to Cherbourg we visited Omaha beach in Normandy, but the atmosphere was too charged for me to put anything in the water.

So I shall now be working on some sea worthy vessels and going paddling.

LIQUID LANDSCAPES DIARY 29 March 2009 Mirror boats


I had a few sheets of mirror card in my studio left over from a previous project, so I decided to cut out the boat net from these to see the effect.

I also scaled up the net and cut out a larger boat (about 1metre in length); Stephan had mentioned the possibility of the dancers doing some improvisations with the larger versions. The interplay of light would be great on a sunny day. I made one with the mirrored surface on the inside and another with the mirror on the outside.

We played about with these in the garden, fortunately it was a glorious day, not a cloud in the sky. By moving the boats about we could reflect and bounce the light in a dramatic flashes, a bit like the sweep of a light house beam, so bright, almost blinding.

This worked particularly well with the boats with the mirrored inside.

The boats with the mirror on the outside have an interesting camouflage effect, so much so that they disappear into the background (made me think of the Dazzle ships of WW1).