New sculpture will reflect Morecambe Bay's maritime heritage
Morecambe Bay has been chosen as the location for renowned artist Anna Gillespie's latest sculpture Ship.
The bronze and steel artwork, which is due to arrive in Half Moon Bay next month, will show the outline of a Viking longboat with two opposing figures at each end, one facing "the new" of Heysham's Nuclear Power Station and the other facing "the old" of the ancient monument of St Patrick's Chapel.
Providing a new focus on Morecambe Bay’s landscape and maritime heritage, the sculpture reflects the importance of seaborne trade in bringing news, innovation and shaping the character of the area.
“Morecambe Bay and Heysham are in a perpetual tug-of-war between the splendour of the sea and its sense of danger, the beauty of the landscape and the fierceness of the climate that has shaped it, modernity and tradition and the ebb and flow of its population as industries have come and gone," she said.
"Ship marks those contradictions and opposing forces as essential to the area’s identity, heritage and environment, pointing to the past as well as the future and offering a welcome to new arrivals and a farewell to anyone starting a new journey from here.”
Gillespie’s deeply evocative public realm sculptures show acute sensitivity to the environment and the character of communities in which they find their home, demonstrated by her most recent, celebrated installation, Maid of the Bridge on Bath’s riverside.
Purposely crafted to be of no definite historic reference, yet evoking the recognisable outline of Viking longboats of the type landed on the same shoreline by former settlers, Ship’s inconspicuous sandstone block centrepiece will provide a functional place of rest ‘amidships’.
As ferries sail out towards the Isle of Man from Heysham’s ferry terminal, they and Ship will remain clearly visible to each other in clear weather, making the artwork both a figurative and literal symbol of arrival and departure.
Susannah Bleakley, chief executive of Morecambe Bay Partnership, said: “The Irish Sea was the M6 of Viking times, an important, busy transport route.
"We’re delighted to bring ‘Ship’ to Heysham, as it celebrates the significance of seaborne trade and our maritime past and present.
"Anna was commissioned after a competitive process because of the quality and reputation of her work and her passion and engagement with the sense of place that make Morecambe Bay and Heysham special.
"Ship brings us a step closer to completing the ambitious plans we launched last summer for new art and events with a profound legacy.
"Anna’s work will withstand time and the elements as a durable document of our shared vision of siting art at the heart of our communities and drawing creatively on Morecambe Bay’s incomparable landscape, ecology and ancient history.
"It’s very much in the spirit of the setting chosen for Ship to wait for people to encounter it in their own time, over successive generations and by people arriving and passing-through from different places.”