Collective Spirit - The Boat Project

Her History

This amazing sailing work of art has been dubbed ‘the ship of a thousand memories’.

Commissioned as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad and funded by the arts council, it was the brainchild of Lone Twin performing artists Gregg Whelan and Gary Winters.

Called “The Boat Project” it set out to build a seaworthy boat entirely from wooden objects donated by people across the south coast of England.

A request went out for people to donate any wooden object, the only stipulation being that each piece of wood had to have a story behind it.

Donors gave their wooden objects for the project from the highly personal to pieces of national importance. They include fragments from over 50 houses, hockey sticks, sections of vessels from family sailing boats to the Mary Rose, a piece of the Cutty Sark and the Royal Yacht Britannia. Wooden spoons, toys, even a shaving from one of Jimi Hendrix’s guitars

Each item was catalogued, capturing the fascinating stories and memories behind each donation. The story behind each piece was documented and became part of the fabric of the boat.

The boat, a state-of-the-art racing yacht designed by Simon Rodgers and built by Olympic yachtsman Mark Covel, in Thornham Marina near Emsworth, she was named “Collective Spirit” by public vote. Collective Spirit was launched on 7 May 2012 and attended a variety of events leading up to being at Weymouth and Portland, the sailing venue for the 2012 Games.

Collective Spirit is not just beautiful to look at but fascinating and functional as well. In total the boat contains over 1,200 donations. Each piece tells a story is a living archive of people’s stories and lives. Together they create Collective Spirit.

One of the goals from the project was always to create a wonderful, long lasting legacy for generations to come, long after the Olympic Games had been and gone.

Whilst much admired artistically since her launch, she has been involved in a few community projects and seen at festivals around the UK and abroad. Unfortunately she has never totally fulfilled her full potential afloat providing opportunities for people to experience her on the water.

Our intention is to get Collective Spirit back on the water and continue her legacy as originally intended, so that she can be shared and enjoyed by the community.

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Universal Yachting: Mercury Yacht Harbour, Hamble-le-Rice, Southampton SO31 4HQ
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