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Artists taking the lead: Lone Twin’s Boat Project shed to open for donations

  • Date: 11 November 2010
  • Area: National, South East
Gregg Whelan from Lone Twin, 2009

Gregg Whelan from Lone Twin, 2009. Credit: Photo: Matthew Andrews

Lone Twin, the winner of the south east Artists taking the lead commission, is unveiling its new boat shed in the Chichester harbour marina at a press launch on 26 November.

Lone Twin's commission, The Boat Project, will see a community team building a 30ft boat, using wood and wooden objects of personal significance - be it a favourite pencil or a much used dining table - donated by the public.

The boat will then make its maiden voyage around the south east during the Olympics and Paralympics in June 2012.

Lone Twin will be hosting a number of pilot donation days in November and December in the new Chichester boatshed. Those dates will be announced on the Boat Project website in early November.

Two yachting and sailing experts have recently been named to lead the boat build: British Olympic silver medallist and America's Cup sailor Mark Covell and yacht maker Simon Rogers.

The Boat Project is one of 12 extraordinary Artists taking the lead projects to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games across the UK. Artists taking the lead is part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad and funded by Arts Council England.

Lone Twin's Gregg Whelan and Gary Winters won the commission for the south east in November 2009. Widely regarded as leading artists in the field of contemporary performance, the duo are also known for their outstanding ability to engage people in their community projects. 

At the heart of The Boat Project are people and their stories and the chance to be involved with creating something - at every stage of the process. From helping to build the boat to - for a lucky few - being on board for the boat's maiden voyage. Like the original Olympics, The Boat Project brings together art, sport and the community.

From January 2011 to June 2012, the boatshed will be the focal point for the donations process. The public will be invited to come along, donate a wooden object, share the story behind their donation, help out with the build or just watch the boat taking shape. The stories collected in the process will be included in a book about the boat and the people who helped build and sail in it.

'By donating a wooden object and sharing the story behind it, people can be part of the creative process,' says Gary Winters.

'They will see their objects being transformed into planks that will make up the boat. There will also be the opportunity to get involved in the building process - sanding, lacquering and manual labour.

'People can nominate friends and family to be taught how to sail and become one of the seven crew members for the boat's maiden voyage.'

Once the boat is built, plans include a launch in May 2012 and a two-week maiden 'Olympic' voyage in June 2012, which will become the focus of celebratory arts events across the region.

Boatbuilder Simon Rogers says: 'This has to be the first time in 20 years that we have been involved with something that on the surface appears potentially so simple, but due to the materials being donated during the build, we have little idea what she will finally be built of.

'We have decided to draw a base line design with known materials and then as the donations arrive, substitute materials throughout the build. I am sure this will produce some very interesting conversations and stories in years to come. As always, we relish the challenge.'

Mark Covell, who won his silver medal in the Sydney Olympics for sailing, will be giving six talks at the London Boat Show in January 2011 about his role as a professional on-board media man - one of the most dangerous and groundbreaking jobs in sailing. He'll also be talking about his role as project manager of the ambitious Boat Project build.

If you would like to donate an item of wood during the Boat Project's pilot days in November and December, please contact