Charon’s Boats, XR

‘Charon’s Boats’ was created by County Limerick artist Sheila Stone, with the help of friends, students, and local community groups. The name of the project is a reference to Charon, the boatman of Greek mythology who was paid to ferry the dead to the next life.

In 2016, the United Nations Refugee Agency UNHCR estimates that 362,753 people fled to the EU by crossing the Mediterranean. Of these, more than five thousand have been reported missing or dead. Inspired by an RTÉ Documentary about the Irish Navy and their humanitarian rescue mission in the Mediterranean, Sheila decided to use her skills as a ceramic artist to highlight the situation.

With ‘Charon’s Boats’, I have created a ceramic installation which expresses my deep concern at the plight of migrants fleeing across the Mediterranean. Each of these boats honors the memory of one of the five thousand and more, men, women, and children who drowned in 2016. Most of these individuals do not even have a grave to mark their passing. My intention is that the visual impact of five thousand boats, seen en masse, will illustrate the enormity of this ongoing human catastrophe.

Donated to XR Ireland directly by the artist, a number of Charon’s Boats were re-imagined to create a unique reflection on migration and climate displaced peoples for the Irish Global Solidarity in 100 Objects exhibition by members of Extinction Rebellion Ireland.

Charon's Boats, XR Ireland. (Feb 2020)
Charons Boats by Sheila Stone (2016)
Artwork glued onto cardboard; in active use in XR events, on loan to the exhibition. Feb, 2020
Extinction Rebellion Ireland flags in active use in XR events, on loan to the exhibition, Feb 2020. Photo: Joshua Mulholland
Artwork glued to cardboard; in active use in XR events, on loan to the exhibition. Feb 2020

Source: Sheila Stone

Year: 2016 and 2020

Courtesy of Johanna Pykala and members of Extinction Rebellion Ireland