Hondartza Fraga: The Sea Full Stop


We were in Manchester on Saturday and called into the City Art Gallery. While looking around this small exhibition of works by Hondartza Fraga, a Spanish artist based in Leeds, caught our eye.

This display of drawings, animation and photography by artist Hondartza Fraga is a contemporary response to the seascapes in The Dutch at Sea exhibition. These imaginary sea views explore our understanding of the sea, and give the focus of a seascape back to the sea.

The artist grew up in northern Spain, near to the sea and moved to Britain to study

I moved from a large peninsula to a smaller island and yet I was further from the sea than ever before.

Unconsciously my work started to search for the sea again, as a way of coping with the distance. I was making work about the sea as view from webcams, from movies, from old postcards… I was collecting representations of the sea. Experiencing it through technology, literature and imagination. (Artist’s blog)

The works in the exhibition included drawings, photographs and video animations. I particularly liked her photograph from a series she has taken of old books about the sea angled and lit so they looked just like seascapes (see the photo at the top of this post taken from here). The photograph, like a number of the other works in the exhibition, were from a project she undertook as a Leverhulme Artist-in-Residence,exploring the maritime archives of the Maritime Historical Studies Centre at the University of Hull.

Another couple of works I particularly liked  included Okeanos a drawing of the world ocean


The artist explains on her website

Oceanus is a figure from Greek mythology (Okeanos in greek), personifying the great river encircling the world. Originally thought to represent just the bodies of salt water known to the ancient Greeks, but as geography became more accurate, Oceanus came to signify the stranger, more unknown waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

The drawings present a map of the world’s oceans I have constructed based on maps of constant-scale and Myriahedral projection. I have omitted the land completely and drawn the coast as a continuous line. (Hondartza Fraga website)

and Lines to Sea (2012), a drawing based on a Portolan Chart.


Portolan Charts often follow the ‘Rule of Marteloio”, the grid is drawn here removed from any references to land or sea, drawn as rope to evoke fishing nets or lace work.

The exhibitionalso included a couple of video animations. One based on original etchings found in a book about the voyages to explore the North-West Passage from the Hull Maritime Museum collection, found during her Leverhulme residency

Passages for the World from Hondartza Fraga on Vimeo.

The second animation was based on some of the Dutch seascapes in the adjacent gallery.

An interesting exhibition which made me want to find out more about her work.


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