Leviathan and the Sea

I’ve been working on a collaboration with Michael Borkowsky for the Liverpool Biennial. We’ve been planning on working on a project together for years, and eventually came up with the idea of basing it on Leviathan, the Biblical sea monster described in Job.
At first we didn’t know what direction the project might take us in, but we have arrived at the idea of an installation. We are drawing our inspiration from cryptozoology, alchemy, natural history and Biblical references.

Leviathan has interested me ever since I first came across a reference to him in the Bible a few years ago. I have a fascination with the sea: I love its otherworldly quality and, for me, it embodies the idea of the sublime, it being both beautiful and terrible. I read quite a lot on the subject of sailing and circumnavigation, and I find the stories terrifying. I’m intrigued by the idea of the landscape of the oceans changing quickly, raising up great mountains beneath a tiny ship, which disappear into deep valleys. The surface itself is liquid, and yet solid enough to smash a vessel to pieces. It seems like sailing through a nightmare, from stormy seas, to the maddening calms of the doldrums, where sailors drift for days, or weeks on end, waiting for the slightest breeze to get them moving again.

Personally I am scared of the sea because of the dangerous creatures which lurk there. I used to snorkel when I was on holiday, but one day I just lost my nerve for no real reason, and have never dived again since. Snorkelling is such an amazing experience, like flying over a different world which is covered by a layer of silver film.

All this contributes to my fascination with the sea, and I see Leviathan as being the embodiment of stormy seas.

Our project, Reviving Leviathan, seeks to find the “real” sea monster. Job explores the idea of being able to control Leviathan (which it seems only God has the power to do), and this idea translates directly to the idea of being able to control the stormy sea.

You can see our project as part of the Liverpool Biennial at Arena Gallery, Liverpool, from 10th – 20th July, along with more great work by other SCIBase artists. The opening is Thursday 10th, from 6-8pm.


Initial sketches for Leviathan research, showing samples of skin.


About Sharon Mossbeck

Sharon Mossbeck is a conceptual artist based in Sheffield. Mossbeck's work focuses on themes of death and religion, often presented in a vibrant, hedonistic manner. While based on themes of death, her work is more easily read as a celebration of life while questioning what may happen beyond. Mossbeck works in a variety of media, including painting, sculpture using found objects, photography and textiles. Available for commissions.
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