David O’Connor is an artist whose work is inextricably tied up with the sea. He was brought up in
Birkenhead, Cheshire and his earliest memories are of his father telling stories about his time in the
merchant Navy during the Second World War. His earliest visual memories are of the vivid docks in
Birkenhead and Liverpool and of his father making and sailing beautiful A Class pond yachts. They
are elegant, finely crafted objects which now command high prices with collectors.
“Like a small child's dream of running away to Sea…” was how one visitor described one of his early
Installations. The boats are emblems for the self. A theme directly inspired by Rimbaud’s poem ‘The
Drunken Boat’ and his father's descriptions of the Atlantic and Murmansk Convoys where he was
torpedoed and sunk twice off Iceland and bombed on the Cunard liner Georgic in the Red Sea. David
has just collected on his father’s behalf his posthumously awarded Arctic Star.
The form of the boat is idealised and condensed much like mediaeval illustration of boats where
scale and form are manipulated to tell the story rather than directly represent boat forms. More
particularly the sculptures are inspired by the mythical journey of St Brendan sailing from Co Kerry to
discover the New World in a canvas covered Currach. They are also directly inspired by another Irish
boat namely the Iron Age gold ‘Broighter Boat’ discovered in County Derry and now in the National
The pieces made in bronze, copper or brass are Patinated. This is a complex chemical process using a
wide variety of formulas which alter the surface nature of the metal by etching and changing the
colour. No two boats are alike as it is virtually impossible to repeat the pattern.
The sculpture presented are made for indoor display. The pieces are either lacquered or wax
finished and do not need any further maintenance.
David O’Connor 2020