Rockall mural by A Horsnell Wade
This is the story of a large rock with a curious defiance. Back in August 2010, I joined a group of eight artists to create individual outdoor murals as part of the Dartmouth Cove Mural Project. My work was designed specifically for this location in tribute to the embattled mammals, birds and fish that inhabit the great oceans of our world. And I was happy to create a public artwork for all to enjoy.
As a focal point, I chose to depict the incredible anomaly known as "Rockall", a great solitary rock which rises from the depths of the North Atlantic Ocean to stand alone against the elements. In my painting, a wave breaks against Rockall to become a gull, while a whale dives in the background and a school of fish swim in the foreground, all under the tidal pull of a full moon.
The real Rockall is a geographic wonder, a challenge to the adventurous, and many stories abound. Check our Wikipedia's interesting details and photos and you'll discover there's also a point of controversy.
In a long-standing game of "King of the Hill", the United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark and Iceland have all claimed Rockall as their own at some point. As well, various adventurers from amateur radio operators to Greenpeace activists have managed to scramble to the top of this islet (actually the tip of an underwater volcano) for a precarious visit at various times over the years. Claiming Rockall continues to fire the imagination of many, as captured in this lyrical Irish verse by B. Warfield, "Rock on Rockall":
For this rock is part of Ireland, 'cos it's written in folklore
That Fionn MacCumhaill took a sod of grass and he threw it to the fore,
Then he tossed a pebble across the sea, where ever it did fall,
For the sod became the Isle of Man and the pebble's called Rockall.
Which brings me back to my tribute to Rockall and the second half of this story. I recently visited my mural to see how it has weathered over the last two years. Happily the work has stood up very well, however I was disappointed and more than a little surprised to see someone has painted over the title and my signature.
Just as Rockall has shunned flags or placques, my claim has been disputed ... or at least erased. So does it matter? The artist's signature is a mark of certain pride and acknowledgement, however with or without that identification, the work is still my own. And that cannot be disputed. What do you think?
Anna Horsnell SCA
Canadian painter of contemporary abstract art