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Wood from ships at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard was donated to sea-faring artwork

  • Date: 3 June 2011
  • Area: National, South East
two sailors holding plank of wood

HMS Victory's Lieutenant Commander DJ ''Oscar'' Whild donated wood from the boat to The Boat Project, received by technical manager Mark Covell. Artist taking the lead, Lone Twin, 2011.. Credit: Photograph: Toby Adamson

Pieces of wood that were part of HMS Victory and HMS Warrior 1860 were donated to The Boat Project, an innovative London 2012 Cultural Olympiad art project based on the South Coast, which consists of crafting a 30ft sea-faring boat from donated wooden objects which have personal significance to their owners.

The piece of HMS Victory was gifted by the ship's Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander DJ 'Oscar' Whild RN on 27 May in Victory Arena at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, closely followed by the piece of HMS Warrior 1860 which was gifted by the ship's Captain.

The Boat Project - a South East region-wide Cultural Olympiad initiative led by artists Lone Twin and supported by Arts Council England - is currently being created at Thornham Marina, Emsworth, West Sussex. It is hoped that the ship will be able to sail along the South Coast during Olympic celebrations next year.

Lone Twin will be visiting various locations in the South East over the course of the spring and summer to collect the wooden donations from those unable to make it to the marina in West Sussex in order to make their contribution. Mundane or extraordinary, the wooden donation can be small or large, but it must contain a story. A full list of their stopping points for donation days is listed on the right.

The Lone Twin team - which includes the yacht designer Simon Rogers and boat builder, British Olympic Silver medallist and America's Cup sailor Mark Covell - are also asking people to nominate a friend, colleague or family member who may relish the chance to set sail with the squad next year as they sail the ship from Weymouth to Margate. Nominations are being accepted until 13 June and by visiting www.theboatproject.com and they are looking for six to eight willing participants.

Crew members must be over 16 to apply to crew the vessel but no prior sailing experience is necessarily needed in order to be part of the adventure. Lone Twin would like a mix of people for the team ranging from experienced sailors to complete novices but all must be available during spring 2012 for training.

Commanding Officer of HMS Victory, Lieutenant Commander Whild says, 'I am delighted to be able to donate a piece of wood to this innovative project on behalf of HMS Victory and the National Museum of the Royal Navy. The wood was recently removed from the port bow section of the ship's outer planking as part of the ongoing restoration of the ship.

'During her time in dry dock, HMS Victory has undergone many repairs where wood has been replaced over the years and although it is not usual for the timber to be re-used in this fashion, we are very happy to be linked to this project.'

Commander Ken Jones, CEO of the Warrior Preservation Trust, says, 'HMS Warrior was built on the banks of the River Lea in East London, over 150 years ago, at the Thames Ironworks and Ship Building company's yard. Today, this site is Canning Town railway station in the London Borough of Newham - and Newham is the home of the 2012 Olympics. So this piece of Warrior will be going home!

'Although the ship has an armour plated, iron hull there was still a lot of wood used in her construction. The donated timber is a piece of opepe, a hardwood, taken from the restoration work on the bulwarks. We are very pleased to be able to contribute to this exciting project and look forward to seeing the finished boat in London.'

Mark Covell, boat builder, said, 'HMS Victory represents so much to so many in that she was instrumental in the history of our nation as the flagship of the Royal Navy.

'Having grown up on Hayling Island and now still living in the area The Victory has always been a part of my life and now also the life of my children; she is the attraction I have visited most often in my life and by which I have never ceased to be fascinated and excited by.

'She was also crucial in the development of my professional career as working on the Victory was my first commercial job as a boat builder when I completed my apprenticeship and I felt honoured then as I will do so now to work with her timbers and so contribute to her legacy.'

Sally Abbott, Regional Director, Arts Council England, sees The Boat Project as a great opportunity for people in the South East to feel a greater connection to the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

She comments, 'The donation from these world famous historic ships will sit proudly alongside all the other fantastic donations that people have already given. The donation days that have taken place so far this spring have been a great success, and I am looking forward to watching the construction of the boat progressing in the coming months as well as hearing more about the fascinating donations that will all be part of the boat's story.

'We wait with excitement to discover who will be the successful candidates chosen to sail the ship along the South Coast during the Olympics next summer.'

The Boat Project is one of 12 Artists taking the lead commissions to celebrate the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad across the UK, funded by Arts Council England.