I live and work as an artist on an old converted Medway Coaster moored on the River Thames. In this hypothetical space of marginality and transgression I am regarded as ‘living outside the urban edge’, what Michel Foucault calls ‘other spaces’ or ‘counter sites’; …heterotopias which simultaneously represent, compete and challenge, as well as turn upside down actual places… 1
In the final paragraph of a lecture Foucault gave to a group of architects in 1967 entitled ‘Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias’ (Des espaces autres), he describes the boat or ship as ‘the greatest reserve of the imagination, the heterotopia par excellence’. He states …as a moving entity, a boat exists outside mainstream society, and therefore embodies a kind of liberty… 2
As a process of mapping the lived experience of being on board ship I have made a series of indexical ink drawings (I am not claiming the drawings are heterotopic - they are traces of emotional and somatic experiences on the ship as a heterotopic space). By suspending a pen from the roof in the hold, I have captured moments of presence now lost, the fleeting, transient rolling of the ship in relation to the wind, and the tide on the female body. Charts that locate my emotional and somatic relationship to a space and place on the river that can never be navigated.
Similar drawings have been made by other female artists despite each being unaware of the drawings of the other. Could there be a link in these artworks that would indicate a gender aware art practice that relates to ‘feminine’ gendered narratives. If so, how might they inform the discourses in relation to the ship as a transgressive space used, occupied and ‘experienced’ by women?
1. F o u c a u l t, Michel 1997. Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias. – Rethinking
Architecture. A Reader in Cultural Theory. Ed. Neil Leach. London, New York: Routledge, pp. 350–356
2. Foucault, M. (1986)  (Trans. Jay Miskowiec) ‘Of Other Spaces’, Diacritics, Vol. 16. No. 1. pp. 22-27. Johns Hopkins University Press.