CALUM F KERR
For this site-specific performance I haunted Enderby Wharf by the River Thames for a day. I created and became a ghostly Sperm Whale, beckoning spirits of the whalers and calling out to the destroyed industrial heritage of this rapidly changing part of South London. I was intervening where nearby cruise liners are planned to depart in the streams of the whaling ships. Enderby’s Wharf is named after Samuel Enderby (1719-1797) the founder in 1775 of Enderby & Sons Whaling Company. Enderby House built around 1840 by his sons is found nearby, boarded up and marooned within a new Barratt Housing development. Enderby’s company was one of the first in the United Kingdom to travel the seas hunting the Sperm Whale for their precious Spermaceti oil.
In Herman Melville’s Moby Dick the Peqoud meets another ship, ‘The Samuel Enderby’ and the company’s history is mentioned further in Chapter 101. “In 1778, a fine ship, the Amelia, fitted out for the express purpose, and at the sole charge of the vigorous Enderbys, boldly rounded Cape Horn, and was the first among nations to lower a whale-boat of any sort in the great South Sea. The voyage was a skilful and lucky one; and returning to her berth with her hold full of the precious sperm…” (Moby Dick, Herman Melville, 1851). The Sperm Whale navigates using echolocation which is heard underwater as a series of complex clicking noises. The people encountering this animal at the wharf heard expressive vocal sounds, clicks that echo an ancient tongue.
This performance was created for the InspiralLondon Festival (September 22-25, 2016).