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Collective Spirit afloat
8 May 2012
A boat marking the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad has been launched today by Gregg Whelan, Creative Research Fellow at King’s, and his project colleague, Gary Winters. The 30-foot sailing boat has been created from hundreds of wooden objects donated by people from across the South East, including a tiny piece of the Mary Rose, a sliver of Jimi Hendrix’ guitar, a plank from the new London 2012 velodrome and a Victorian policeman’s truncheon.
The celebratory launch of Collective Spirit took place at Thornham Marina, Emsworth, near Chichester. The vessel’s name was chosen by the public and was only unveiled as part of the launch day. She was winched by a giant crane into the water before a bottle of champagne was smashed across her bow and her name revealed for the first time.
For The Boat Project, Gregg and Gary, from Lone Twin, one of Europe’s leading performance companies, invited donations of pieces of wood from people throughout the South East. There was just one stipulation: there had to be a yarn behind the offering.
More than 1,200 contributions, from tiny fragments to substantial items, were given to the project, including large crates used to transport British securities, aka gold, to Canada during World War II, a salad server in the shape of a spanner, several hockey sticks and a hairbrush used by a make-up artist at Pinewood Studios in the 1960’s.
People from all walks of life responded by giving treasured items whether from across the globe or from their garages. Each and every item was photographed with its donor and each fascinating back-story digitally recorded.
Gregg said: ’The boat is a sign of life built from the stuff of everyday life. I think the whole team is excited to be a part of the Cultural Olympiad and the London 2012 Festival, simply because it gives the project a national platform. It deserves that - those 1,221 lives that came together to build the boat deserve their place in our attentions. That’s the basic idea behind the project - to mark life.’
The Boat Project Book was launched simultaneously, logging every part of the project, the stories behind the donations and the people who gave them.
Lone Twin and the build team, which included acclaimed sailor and boat-builder Mark Covell (Olympic Silver medalist, Open Star Sailing, Sydney 2000) and international boat designer Simon Rogers (Artemis 20), brought traditional wooden boat-building techniques together with 21st century technology to construct a yacht capable of reaching speeds in excess of 20 knots (fast enough to wake surf behind).
The boat and her crew will now continue on the maiden voyage along and beyond the South East coast, stopping off at locations where a festival of events - including newly commissioned artworks, music, dance and artists’ talks - will celebrate the boat’s arrival.
Gregg said: ’Once the maiden voyage is complete, the boat will be given back to the region and will become a public resource, there for people from all walks of life to enjoy for many, many years to come.’
The Boat Project is part of Artists Taking the Lead, a series of 12 public art commissions across the UK.
For further please Anna Mitchell on anna.i.mitchell [a] kcl.ac (p) uk , 0207 848 3092.
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