Exhibition of boat design goes on display at South Shields gallery

Stephen Livingstone and his striking hull template

Stephen Livingstone and his striking hull template

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An exhibition inspired by the region’s shipbuilding heritage has gone on display at a South Tyneside gallery.

A display of drawings, sculpture and video about the traditions of boat design and building has opened at the Customs House.

Stephen Livingstone and his striking hull template

Stephen Livingstone and his striking hull template

North East artist Stephen Livingstone has joined with film-maker Cat Hardwick for the Boat Curves exhibition, which is at the venue’s Port of Tyne Gallery until September 22.

Stephen worked with traditional wooden boat builders from the South Shields-based North East Maritime Trust to create a striking hull template, a huge three-dimensional template for an ocean-going vessel which forms the heart of the exhibition, at the town’s Mill Dam venue.

The structure took three days to hang.

Stephen said: “The shapes are redolent of ‘stations’, a term used in the development of the drawing of a boat – cross-sections through the hull’s profile.

“The sculpture is made up of a series of laser cut ribs attached to a keel or spine suggesting the inner structure of a boat, or the skeleton of a large sea creature. The elliptical shapes are all cut from ten single sheets of MDF board.”

He invited Cat to collaborate with him to capture boat builders at work, documenting the design and construction of a replacement rudder for the old Tynemouth Lifeboat.

Her resulting film forms part of the exhibition, as do a series of drawings by Stephen.

Stephen added: “The result is ghost images on the paper, almost watermarks. In looking for new and interesting drawing templates I come across Copenhagen Ship Curves, implements to enable shipwrights to plan the complex curves of their boats.

“These seemed a perfect vehicle to develop new work in response to what I saw going on at the Trust’s boat yard.”

The gallery is open 10am to 8.30pm most days and entry is free.