Tate Boat - This is not an oil tanker by platformlondon

This is not an Oil Tanker


Artists: Isa Suarez with Mae Martin and Mark McGowan
Location: Tate Boat
Instructions: The Tate Boat goes along the Thames between Tate Britain and Tate Modern, in either direction. Follow directions from either gallery to the accessible jetty located close by. Once seated comfortably on board the boat, press play.


This Is Not An Oil Tanker. It is a journey in oil on water.

Featuring comedian extraordinaire Mae Martin and the inimitable Artist Taxi Driver Mark McGowan, Isa Suarez's musical sound work playfully examines oil and water, BP and arts sponsorship.

Take your seat aboard Tate Boat and find yourself almost eye level with the River Thames. This Is Not An Oil Tanker immerses you in sounds, songs and stories from across the Atlantic, amidst a watery soundscape that echoes the river slapping the sides of the boat itself.

Meet Jasmine Thomas, from the Yinka Dene Allaince who tells of the tar sands impacts on rivers in Alberta, Canada. Meet Mike Roberts, part of a community of fisherfolk whose lives have been irrevocably changed by the BP disaster in coastal Louisiana. Listen to the unique and moving testimonies of children from New Orleans on how the BP oil spill  is affecting them.

This Is Not An Oil Tanker  is a poetic and fun journey where the absurd meets tragedy, humour and hope.


Isa Suarez is a composer, songwriter, performer and sound-artist. Her work suggests feelings and atmospheres and addresses socio-political issues. Her recent film soundtracks include: Ollie Kepler's Expanding Purple World/U.K; Paths Through Utopias/France/UK; Carpe Diem/Canada. She has exhibited at Tate Britain, The Whitechapel Art Gallery, South London Gallery, Barbican Arts Centre and collaborated with Amnesty International, Etoy, Creative Routes, Platform, Transglobal Underground, The Revolutionary Dub Warriors...

Mae Martin is a Canadian stand-up comedian.
Mae's work is a unique blend of songs and stand up comedy that mines her neurotic visions of the impending apocalypse, her extremely strong feelings about certain celebrities, and her adventures in androgyny. NOW Magazine recently praised her "smart, deadpan observations", and Xtra Magazine called her "witty and wickedly funny".

Mark McGowan aka The Artist Taxi Driver
Mark McGowan is a British artist working in the expanding field of art. He has been described by Will Self as "the pre-eminent performance artist working in Britain today."



Dear Tate song and Mutant Fish sketch:  Mae Martin
Performances:  Mark McGowan
Music and Sound design: Isa Suarez


Sounds of the Athabasca River (Tar Sands and Canada) rapids and calm waters recordings taken from ''White Water Black Gold'' - a documentary film produced and directed by David Lavallee - 2012

Bird Song and tar sands testimony: Jasmine Thomas

Bird Song recorded by Felix Gonzales, You and I Films www.youandifilms.com

Tar sands testimony recorded by Dissident Island Radio www.dissidentisland.org/

Jasmine Thomas is a Dene/Cree woman from the interior of British Columbia (Canada) and an environmental & climate justice Indigenous rights activist in the fight against the Northern Gateway Pipeline. The Enbridge project, proposing to build a tar sands pipeline across British Columbia to the Pacific coast, is facing strong opposition from over 130 First Nations communities who have declared this development to be illegal under Indigenous laws. One of these communities located along the pipeline route is Jasmine's home, the Saik'uz First Nation.

Testimony by Mike Roberts, commercial fisherman from Barataria Bay, Louisiana, recorded by Kevin Smith

Chain of Missing Links (extract) by artist Eve Abrams 
Featuring the voices of New Orleans children:
Kennedi Fraise, Jonathan Cohn, Javen Porter and Taylor Marshall.
And Eve Abrams - www.eveabrams.com/

Additional Information

Bird Song translation: ''My time is coming to an end. The birds are coming to get me. Don't cry for me when I go. I'm going to the spirit world.''

Jasmine Thomas speaks about Bird Song:

My late great-grandmother (a medicine woman and an activist) always asked me to sing this song for her… more often when her time came closer to an end on this earth. Most of us thought that this was a bird song about the coming of spring and re-birth. 

It wasn't until I consulted a translator - one of my great aunts - who realized that this was a song about leaving this world, and that the birds would help us find our way to the spirit world, because birds are closest to the Creator. 

My great-grandmother Sophie Thomas was very humble and she did not want us to mourn for her like the words in the song. Rather, she wanted us to keep on doing our part for Mother Earth. She would always say, "soo noundlay," which means "do your best". 

I didn't learn the true translation until a few years after her passing. Sharing this song for years and only now knowing what it really means, makes it that much more special to me. 

When I sing it, I am honouring her memory and legacy...and also as a reminder to myself that time on this earth is short...and to always "do my best". 

For more background on the late Dr. Sophie Thomas, see www.sophiethomas.org 

"If we look after our earth, it will look after us. If we destroy it, we'll destroy ourselves." Dr. Sophie Thomas

Eve Abram on Chain of Missing Links

They were my students, so we had a really strong relationship before I whipped out the recorder.  They knew I made radio stories, and they kept begging to be in one... so I started recording them talking about things they cared about.