A few weeks before arriving in Liberia there were stories of a mysterious oil tanker that had washed up on the shores of Robertsport. The reason behind the beached 209ft ship was claimed to be anything from pirates to terrorism. No crew were found so the local media labelled it the “Ghost Ship” and our curiosity grew. Once we landed, we scouted the spot to see if we could do something with The Liberia Project.

Days later, unable to stop thinking about the remarkable site we got in touch with Mark Jenkins to see if we could work together to install one of his famous faceless figures. His sellotape sculptors have been spotted around the world sitting on street corners and sleeping in museums. But this would be a new experiment for the ever-innovating artist as he puts his idea in the hands of a group of Liberian surfers. His idea, have a figure pushing the ship back into the ocean, it was perfect.

The project was no longer restricted to paint as the team headed to the local store in search of all the sellotape they could get their hands on. They regrouped as excitement started to build for their new undertaking. Leading the way was our volunteer model as the team began to wrap him in tape as he experimented with positions. Each section of the body is taped and filled with bottles to strengthen the structure. Clothes come next to test out the completed look and the group stand back and smile, it was ready to be installed. Unfortunately the Liberian rainy season brings big swell so the installation wasn’t going to be as smooth.

Three attempts at installing the figure were blocked by rising tides and strong swells so we headed out for number four as the sun appeared the next day. It became “Figure VS Nature” as we watched waves disrupt the shore while the team struggled to shove the wooden frame into the sand. Suddenly it was secure and the faceless figure seemed to be pushing the unwanted ship back to where it came from.

We’ve no doubt this will be the first of many tape-sculptors appearing in the Liberian landscape as the local team learned that experimenting with simple materials can have inspiring results.

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Images: Alpanso Appleton + Apartial