SGHT has unveiled a new artistic commission to shine a light on the story of humankind and the resurgence of the wildlife of South Georgia. Watch our live Press Launch here.

The winning artist is Scottish sculptor Michael Visocchi, with his work called ‘Commensalis – the Spirit Tables of South Georgia’. This site-specific piece will be situated on South Georgia at the Grytviken Whaling Station, with Michael’s concept drawing inspiration from a number of sources to tell the island’s powerful story of an eco-system in recovery.

Watch our short film to hear Michael talking about his work and find out more about the island and its wildlife.

Commensalis: The Artist’s Diary

Follow our winning artist sculptor Michael Visocchi, on his trip to Grytviken, South Georgia to work on ‘Commensalis – the Spirit Tables of South Georgia’.


About the Commission

Under the umbrella of the GSGSSI heritage strategy and Conservation Management Plan for Grytviken, SGHT has hosted an international competition to engage creative practitioners from varying artistic disciplines to develop a site-specific commission to celebrate the whale through a reinterpretation of the former Flensing Plan. This is an inspirational project (with thanks to Thies Matzen for the original idea), an opportunity to create a legacy for the future, a message of hope for the natural world and a reinterpretation that will challenge visitors to consider man’s changing relationship with nature and in particular with the whale.

The winning commission has been selected by a diverse panel led by the Trust’s Vice Chairman Professor Elaine Shemilt. The panel was composed of representatives from GSGSSI, South Georgia stakeholders and the creative community. The artist’s brief was to create a sculpture that will set the scene for visitors to Grytviken. Its purpose is to help visitors interpret Grytviken’s past and present and to celebrate the recolonization of whales, seals, seabirds and plant life, thanks to excellent British stewardship and environmental management of South Georgia’s terrestrial and marine environments.

This commission is part of a cultural heritage programme to communicate a poignant message about our changing attitudes to nature and the need for resolute stewardship of our oceans and the natural world.

Grytviken Whaling Station, showing the old landing point (the “Flensing Plan”) for Whale Catcher ships. Credit: Image from Geometria working for the Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI)


This project is generously supported by:

Find out more about the organisations supporting Commensalis by watching this video:

Find out how to support our work here.

Humpback Whales off the coast of South Georgia Island, photo by Phil Tempest, 2015