After graduating from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1981,work soon took me to the offshore oil rigs, working as a petroleum logging geologist for a period of three years. One spring we were evacuated from a semi-submersible oil rig because of threatening ice flows and icebergs moving southward on the Grand Banks of the coast of Newfoundland. We spent the next five weeks in St. John's on stand-by at which time I began work on my first model semi-submersible oil drilling rig.I sat up workshop on my living room table.
Later in life, I displayed it in my studio. E. Annie Proulx, writer of the Shipping News, frequently visited my studio on her way up the Viking Trail to her summer cottage at Gunner's Cove. she became a collector of my early style of contemporary folk art.
In 1995, upon returning to her permanent home in Vermont, USA, she phoned me that fall and asked me if I was interested in selling her my model oil rig. Seeing who she was, I said 'yes' and we agreed to a reasonable price. But when I asked her for her shipping address, she said it wasn't for herself but for a friend of her's who happened to be in the offshore oil business. He was Mr. Raymond Plank, the chairman and CEO of Apache Oil Corporation in Denver. I packaged up the model rig and sent it of to Raymond. Shown is a copy of the letter that he sent back to me.
A couple of years later after parting with my rig, I was missing the presence of it in my studio so I decided to build another one. It began in-studio during Christmas of '97 and continued into the winter of '98. It sat in-studio since then, not for sale, but part of a display of the new industry in Newfoundland, Offshore Oil.
In 2009, I gave the model rig a complete overhaul; new paint job, added and simplified components, removed miniature Christmas tree lights that I had installed to light up the rig. A proper wiring job with miniature lights would suite this model just fine.
The model sits on a hand-bar for handling and display purposes. It is a rectangular wooden frame with handles attached to each side, with handgrips at the ends. In earlier years, fishermen used it to carry salt fish, seal pelts and other bulky materials.
This model is of no particular semi-submersible oil drilling rig. Rather it is an artistic and creative representation of what I remember about rigs from my days working offshore Newfoundland. Therefore it has no name. You buy it, You name it. I will attach the chosen name to it on the two red panels that are attached to the white drill floor walls. So, let's say for argument sake if someone like the Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin was to buy it, she might name it "Drill Baby Drill".
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