Erola Arcalís     Shipwreck studies    Arcadia    Fireweed     Daguerréotype     Los ausentes   Rehearsing the real   Lethe    about

Shipwreck Studies is currently showing at Hauser & Wirth Menorca until the 25th of October
curated by Oriol Fontdevila as part of the exhibition After the Mediterranean.

Shipwright Francesc Preto built his last boat inland, with the intention of housing a naturist community. Arcalís creates archaeological fictions with the flotsam of her great grandfather’s shipwreck, using the traces of a utopia that is yet to become alive.

Oriol Fontdevila

Menorca-born and London-based artist Erola Arcalís presents works that are two-dimensional, successfully exploring the sensation of time against the sensibilities of the landscape and enabling and offering the present and future a platform on which to apply itself. Shipwreck Studies (2017–22) comprises photographic works that are deliciously difficult to read as they sink into their own swell of water. Intentionally including nothing of the horizon, they appear as abstracted images that are timeless, as is the condition of the water. Conceived of by an artist drawing on her interests in narrative and the nature of memory as a motioned experience, they offer her audience these tonal representations of reality, as recorded by the artist’s choice of images.

One of the smaller works in the series is pinned to the wall, as though having been washed up by the water – a self-contained photograph of
Francesc Petro building his last ship (1981). A man stands on a wooden frame, with the pieces stretched out in front of him as he singlehandedly builds the pictured boat for his own story of the Mediterranean. With his exact identity omitted from the label, we are intrigued into a desire to introduce the man to our own lives.

Rajesh Punj, Canvas Art Review

Shipwreck Studies is inspired by a collection of found objects that used to belong to my great-grandfather. A ship builder and a man of unconventional thinking, his last project was the construction of a 26 meters long ship that was to become a communal living space. The vessel, made with reclaimed materials from the sea, was to remain moored in the middle of a rocky field in the island of Menorca.

Just some years after its construction in the seventies, an unexpected fire destroyed it. Different stories are shared about the cause, but whether provoked or accidental, the flames burnt the ship almost entirely, leaving only a few traces of the little utopia. Thirty years on I went back to the same place and gathered few of the flotsam, wreckage and surviving objects with the intention to transform them into a series of sculptures.

A vessel settled
in a meadow
of asphodel
glass and dry fennel

[all memories dissolve]


All monochrome photographs in this series have been hand-printed and processed by the artist.

Wine-dark Sea 
La Mar Grisa

(images of the sea)

silver gelatin hand prints

123 cm x 155 cm

Vessel I (a variation)
Vessel II
Vessel XI

silver gelatin hand prints

35 x 40 cm

Still life with a snail and a spoon
Drimia Maritima with supports

silver gelatin hand prints

13,5cm x 11cm
 (frame size 46cm x 37cm)

Paco Preto building his last ship, 1981
colour picture, family archive

11cm x 8cm

Whale womb eye hull

ink on paper

15 cm x 21 cm


for this project:
general enquiries:

Shipwreck Studies is currently on show in Hauser & Wirth Menorca until the 29th of October 2023. Installation pictures by Roberto Ruiz, courtesy of Hauser & Wirth.