Lost and Trouvé'd


Found vintage beer keg with mirror

Lisa Heath 2020

UPENDED is a vintage beer keg that was rescued during a clean up of Fishbourne Bay, not far from where I live on the Isle of Wight. I offered to dump it, and since it was heavy and leaking, I took it home to be drained before heading to the tip. Over the next couple of weeks, as the sea water slowly trickled out, the keg and I became friends. Its battered sides and corroded edges had something to say to me and by the time it was finally empty, we had plans.....

I wasn't sure if I could use it, because it has a company name, a place and a serial number stamped on it, but this information told me that it was manufactured and filled with Bass beer between 1961 and 1967, which meant over 50 years of bobbing at sea before we met. I discovered that if the keg had been jettisoned (perhaps in order to lighten the load of a sinking ship), Merchant Shipping law allowed me to keep it; but if it had merely gone down with a ship, I could keep it unless and until the owner made a claim for it - but how would the owner know I had it?

Turns out that finding the owner is the job of the Receiver of Wreck. I have submitted my Report of Wreck and Salvage and The Receiver now has a year in which to reply to my notification. That's a long time, so I have proceeded with completing UPENDED, even if it might end up existing as a temporary installation. The keg's desire to represent the battered 2020 hospitality industry is just too poignant to ignore.

I found a stand and mounted it but felt it had more to say so I added a scratched mirror, to emphasise the shaky self reflection all this upheaval has foist upon us.

UPENDED is the weathering of the C-19 storm, yes, but we might also see it as an invitation to examine our cultural endorsement of drinking to excess; and our economic reliance upon that too. Bar by bar, lockdown gives us precious pause.

The keg was lost as one version of itself and found as another. Most of us will be travelling a similar road at this time. UPENDED challenges us to accept the battered parts of our lives and to redefine ourselves in a way that allows us, and others, the best chance of moving forward in healing and grace.

lisa heath artist blog