New sculpture to commemorate Mayflower Pilgrims

Artist and sculptor, Rachel Carter has retraced the historic Mayflower voyage across the Atlantic Ocean as part of a sculptural project she is working on to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the pilgrimage.

Rachel is to create a bronze sculpture named The Pilgrim Women. 

Rachel set sail from Liverpool in July aboard a cargo ship – in an echo of the 1620 Atlantic crossing of the Mayflower Pilgrims. 

She spent her time working on her project and when she arrived in America she carried out an artist-in-residency at the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum in Boston MA.

“I made my own pilgrimage to get a sense of the feeling and isolation from my family. I wanted to try to understand and experience the feelings that the original Mayflower Pilgrims felt during their 66 day trip in 1620, so travelling to the US by ship, completely cut off from communication was the only way to do this. 

“The journey was such an amazing adventure, we had sunny conditions for just one day, which was when the ship left Liverpool, then rain, wind and rough seas for the remainder of the Atlantic crossing until the very last day,” she said.

“It really makes you wonder how the Mayflower passengers coped on a smaller vessel and without all of the conveniences we have today.

“Stepping onto dry land after just eight days was extremely liberating and my time in Provincetown and at the museum was fantastic.

“I have met members of the Wampanoag Tribe and many more people of all ages. As well as creating the woven panels for the final sculpture I have been teaching visitors how to weave using the macramé method.”

Rachel specialises in woven materials and texture, similar to the practices of the North American Wampanoag people who wove belts which often depicted stories or family symbols. 

Her sculpture, which will be unveiled in 2020, will feature a Tudor-style dress with a fitted kirtle and full skirt made up of woven panels that Rachel created herself while on board the ship and during a series of weaving workshops, engaging women from across the Pilgrim roots areas to create a historically accurate Tudor gown, covered in intricate hand knotted panels. 

The completed dress, to be modelled by Rachel, will be captured using Photogrammetry to enable the sculpture to be 3D printed and then cast in bronze using the traditional lost-wax-technique, with which she has become synonymous.

The sculpture is supported by Arts Council England and endorsed by Mayflower 400 as a Spirit of Mayflower project.