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01-014 "Queen Mary: Monster Machine"
2001, acrylic on canvas board

The Queen Mary is a lot of things - an example of art, a site of history, and a conveyance. She is also one monster machine, a gigantic steel engine with millions of interlocking parts and four very large moving ones: her forty ton bronze propellers. Normally hidden from sight by the sea, these whirling brutes would on rare occasions be lifted near the surface when the waves were at their worst. Here we are dead astern of the Mary as she lumbers through bad seas; a sixty-foot wave is cresting in her middle, and the deep trough behind it briefly exposes the frightening spectacle of her churning screws. Hurling foam in all directions, these leviathans make a momentary appearance, like sea monsters, before sliding down into the deep again. Fortunately, the engines are turning slowly; they must be, as the propellers will suddenly be somewhat freed of their dense water burden and attempt to speed up. Engineers are watching the strain on the drive shafts carefully, and have lowered the speed to ease the danger of a broken shaft. This scene was obviously hard to photograph; the few passengers on deck are probably seasick; however, some who saw this eerie sight remembered it vividly, and their descriptions resulted in this image of a monster sea at war with a monster machine.

Chris Butler

Copyright 1994-2003 by Chris Butler
More of Chris Butler's art can be viewed at Novagraphics Space Art.