Category Archives: clayak
While earning my BFA degree I began using unfired clay in performance art pieces, and as a sculpture material. Reintroducing water to dry clay changes its state from being a fragile solid to a malleable or even semi-liquid substance over a relatively short period of time. This essentially mimics a geologic process which generally takes eons, and is cyclical in nature much like our own birth-life-death-rebirth. In addition to these themes the Clayak project absurdly focused on its own failure as the key to its success.
clayak kayak qayaq qajaq iqyax baidarka
On July 11th 2015, Joseph McGovern attempted to paddle his Clayak out on San Francisco Bay, planning for it to slowly dissolve and soften until it would ultimately sink.
He had just lowered himself into the cockpit of the kayak, and was adjusting his sitting position when a wave picked up the front of the kayak causing it to break in half. He continued with the launch into the water, immediately getting rolled off the kayak cradle in the small surf as the cockpit section broke apart from the bow and crumbled around him. He recovered the remaining bow section in front of him attempting to paddle it, though it quickly flooded with water and disappeared beneath the surface. Determined, he returned to the stern section of the kayak still laying on the cradle, and rolled it into the water. This last conical piece floated, then partially submerged as it filled with water through the bulkhead openings trapping an air pocket in its top. He wrapped his legs around the kayak bobber, and then began paddling it towards the Golden Gate Bridge.
Joseph McGovern spent about five months working on creating the twelve and a half-foot long kayak made entirely out of clay. He began the piece while an Artist in Residence at Creativity Explored, an art studio located in the Mission District of San Francisco.
The Artist used about three hundred pounds of clay to construct the kayak. He also made a modified tuilik (pronounced do-ee-leek) sprayskirt-dry shirt from Tyvek, and a traditional West Greenland style paddle out of a common Douglas Fir 2×4.
unfired clay, playsand, beeswax – 2015
tuilik and west greenland style kayak paddle
tyvek, neoprene, thread, shock cord, vinyl tubing – 2015 [top]; douglas fir 2×4, tung oil – 2015 [bottom]