Work to produce a fleet of models to herald the start of this year’s Tall Ships Race in Sunderland has set sail.
Community groups have started work on ships of all shapes and sizes, and made of a range of materials to help welcome the ships while at the same time recognising Wearside’s proud shipbuilding heritage.
The Set the Sails project is being co-ordinated by the Cultural Spring, an Arts Council England-funded initiative working to increase participation in the arts.
The project is working with community groups in five areas: the Box Youth project in Doxford; St Mark’s Church in Millfield; Hopewood Park, Ryhope; Thornhill School in St Michael’s ward, in collaboration with Young Asian Voices and Sangini Women’s Art Group based in Hendon.
Emma Horsman, project director for the Cultural Spring, said: “Five groups across the city are working with artists that the groups interviewed and chose themselves to produce a number of model boats.
“The boats are being modelled to scale and can be made from any material – wood, plastic, paper, cardboard and textiles.
“Some of the models won’t be built for sailing, but those which are may set sail as part of The Tall Ships artistic programme.
“The groups are made up of about 15 participants and the artists will host about 20 two-hour sessions, which will include two visits to places such as Port of Sunderland’s 300 Exhibition or Sunderland Maritime Heritage Centre, which hopefully will inspire their work.”
It is hoped that a fleet of 80 model boats will be developed through the project, with an opportunity to name them after a ship on the Keel Line.
The project will culminate in the Crew Parade on Thursday, July 12.
They may then be gifted to one of the visiting Tall Ships to take to their next location.
Artist Chris Folwell, who is working on the project with a group at St Mark’s in Millfield, said: “At our first meeting we spent time getting to know each other and then modelled some simple boats using cardboard.
“We’d love to see a few more folk join us for the workshops.”
The Rev Alison Hampton, vicar at St Mark’s, said the workshops, which are held inside the church between 9.30am and 12 noon, every Thursday, are open to everyone and not just parishioners.
“We’re providing bacon sandwiches and a hot drink, courtesy of Orange Leaf Café, and we had about a dozen at the first workshop, which went very well,” she said.