19 March – 5 April 2014: Catherine Hockey – Fathom



FATHOM 1. A measure of length containing six feet. Holder. 2. Reach; penetration; depth of contrivance. Shakesp.

To FATHOM. v.a. [from the noun] 1. To encompass with the arms extended or encircling. 2. To reach; to master. Dryden. 3. To sound; to try with respect to depth. Felton. 4. To penetrate into; to find the bottom: as, I cannot fathom his design. 1

FATHOM (faTH’um) n. six feet; –v.t. to try the depth of; comprehend. 2

fathom / faðəm / n.&v. n. (pl. often fathom when prec. by a number) 1 a measure of six feet, esp. used in taking depth soundings. 2 Brit. a quantity of wood six feet square in cross section. – v.tr. 1 grasp or comprehend a problem (a problem or difficulty). 2 measure the depth of (water) with a sounding line. fathomable adj. fathomless adj. [OE faethm outstretched arms f . Gmc]3

The works presented in Fathom are a response to visual stimuli experienced from the passenger seat of a moving vehicle. While the driver uses signs and markings to be directed, Hockey records these signs and markers. The resulting body of work is a library of signs that hover over the road, on poles and bridges.

Text is eliminated from the signs represented in these works but there is consideration paid to the terms used in relation to the works. Time is given to consulting a number of dictionaries on the origin of the terms used. (For example, Fathom, Drive, Observational, Flit, Trace.) The collection and collation of images and the lists made and then referred to, result in the final drawings. In some works the surrounding landscape is eliminated in favour of a gridded accumulation of signs and markings that bombard the viewer with colour and directional choices. In other works certain elements of the landscape are included, if only as a suggestion.

1 Dictionary of the English Language, by Samuel Johnson, A.M., for Thomas Ewing, 1768

2 The Handy Pocket Dictionary, The London Book Company, c1930

3 The Oxford English Reference Dictionary, 2nd edition, ed. Judy Pearsall and Bill Trumble, Oxford University Press, 1996