the signal house

edition

c. 2020

#18

Calorwheel_Sara Impey .jpg

Calorwheel

Sara Impey

Summer OMNIBUS 2022

poetry

the gallery floor

essay

Futures Past: Encounters with Aldous Huxley

podcast interview

the making of frank prewett

non-fiction

object lessons

interview

the taste of an apple:

a conversation with storyteller Kevin Kling

essay

the card that didn't exist

perspective

2nd arrondissement, Paris, june 2020

audio

the empty cage

interview

sara impey

Erica Gillingham

John Frew

Henry Martin | Joy Porter

Melissa Chambers

Clare Muireann Murphy

Eloïse Mignon

Hetty Kate

Kit Brookman | Andre Jewson

The Editors

contributing artists - James Kenyon, STANDAMID, Luke Mullins

welcome

The mer-people of the South China Sea finally have the eatery they deserve.

 

Jumbo Floating Restaurant was a barge-borne eatery moored in Hong Kong’s Aberdeen Harbour. It belonged to a group of harbour restaurants collectively known as Jumbo Kingdom, and, over the course of its 70-year history, had become a renowned tourist attraction. Following a 2003 renovation, Jumbo Kingdom stretched to a footprint of 4,200 square metres and could accommodate as many as 2,300 diners, yet it struggled to maintain profitability, and in 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic dealt it a lethal financial blow.

 

The restaurant’s parent company, Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises, tried to offload the restaurant, but no one would accept its enormous operating costs. With its Marine Department operating license close to expiry and no harbour berth available, the owners decided that the best course of action was to put to sea and await better prospects. The restaurant was towed out of Aberdeen Harbour on the 14th of June. No final destination was confirmed. Six days later, after encountering adverse weather conditions a short distance from the Paracel Islands, Jumbo Floating Restaurant capsized, and was lost.

 

The Paracel Islands, also known as the Xisha Islands and Hoàng Sa, lie approximately 689 kilometres from Hong Kong. They are one of a number of disputed archipelagos in the increasingly contested South China Sea. China, Taiwan, and Vietnam all claim sovereignty, but de facto control of the archipelago rests with China, which has embarked on enormous infrastructure works and land reclamation on this scattered collection of shoals, reefs and sandy islands that barely rise above sea level. As well as the wreck of the Jumbo Floating Restaurant, the islands are home to the Dragon Hole, the deepest known sinkhole in the world.

 

It’s hard to know what to make of this story; its elements come close to knitting together as some kind of metaphor for the times, but seem to slip at the last moment, like similar pieces of four different jigsaws. A restaurant on the sea, financial ruin, a bottomless pit, vast, competing powers lavishing resources on depopulated stretches of sand.

 

This summer The Signal House Edition marks two years in publication. Over this time, along with our many contributors, we have recorded a version of the times that is as inscrutable as it is profound, as global as it is personal and specific. As urgent, nonsensical and unexpected as the tale of Jumbo Floating Restaurant. 

 

Welcome to our 2022 OMNIBUS, a double issue where we resurface sunken treasure from our first two years in the light of a new day.

SARA IMPEY is our featured artist this month, and is also interviewed in this issue by our poetry editor Erica Gillingham. Sara is an Essex based textile artist specialising in machine-stitched lettering. With a background in quilt making, she uses the textile surface to comment on social and political issues, sometimes with a dash of humour. Website. Instagram.

(Image credits: artwork photographed by Douglas Atfield)