The Longest Journey

Sculpture, 1994

In the years leading up to The Longest Journey, Pacheco had been exploring the journey theme in two series of prints, The Longest Journey I and II (1987) and Terra Ignota 1-10 (1994). In these powerfully imaginative works, passengers perform the gamut of human behaviours on boats that are stranded on stilts or swinging in mid-air. The sculpture, as is always the case in Pacheco’s work, presents a monumental distillation of these “circumnavigations” of the theme. Ten figures are adrift on a boat without power or crew. The adults in the stern are questioning or contemplative, the five huge, white-robed figures in the prow more watchful of the boat’s course and its passengers. A young child takes keenest interest of all, a lookout precariously perched on a stool amidships, linking the two groups. Where is this 32 foot Broads cruiser headed? Is this the longest journey we all undertake? Are the shrouded figures our guides to an unknown realm?  The title of this work comes from D H Lawrence’s poem, The Ship of Death:

Build then the ship of death, for you must take
The longest journey, to oblivion…