30 DAYS AT SEA: NEW WORKS BY TIM CHRISTENSEN
CENTER FOR MAINE CRAFT
24 SERVICE PLAZA DRIVE
WEST GARDINER, MAINE
By Taryn Plumb
For 30 days, he was essentially a stow- away on a container ship set on a course thousands of miles across the open sea.
The moody ocean vacillated between violence and tranquility; the scenery was at times turbulent, blissful, and teeming with life — but whatever each day brought, the experience was endlessly powerful and life-altering.
Maine sgraffito artist Tim Christensen, bound for Sydney, Australia, spent hours above deck studying the changing pat- terns of the water, the sky and the wildlife, then rendering his observations in dozens of sketches and notes, filling a journal to the bindings.
His trip is chronicled in the solo exhibit “30 Days at Sea,” now on view at the Center for Maine Craft Gallery in Gardiner. Through Nov. 19, viewers can experience dozens of Christensen’s prints, world- renowned clay work, and the weather- worn notebook that made the passage with him across the ocean.
“I see the entire trip as one great performance piece,” said Christensen, who also blogged throughout the journey. “I made some of the best work of my career on this trip.”
For those lucky enough to travel to Australia from the states, there is often an initial dread in the logistics of arriving safely Down Under: The time-intensive- ness of a 24-hour-plus flight; the exhaus- tion of ensuing jet lag; the instant culture shock upon stepping off the plane.
But Christensen saw a whole different opportunity. When he received an invite to the annual “Smoke on the Water” conference at the Ceramic Centre for Excellence, Inc., in Queensland, Australia, he began casting around for ways to turn what could be a cumbersome travel experience into something more creativity-inspiring.
He had larger, more underlying rea- sons, as well. The Maine native has long been a steward of the environment, doing whatever he can to be conscientious and courteous while minimizing his impact. He lamented that he’s already seen signif- icant changes to the Earth in his lifetime.