When a boat made up of over 1,200 wooden items donated by the people of the South East, stopped off at The Stade in Hastings last weekend I dropped by to take a look.  One of 12 artistic commissions across the UK to celebrate the London Olympics ‘Collective Spirit’ has to be one of the most unusual and, I thought, surprisingly beautiful creations.

The artists who conceived the idea, Gary Winters and Gregg Whelan, known as Lone Twin, visited 20 locations across the region in a quest for donations for use in the building of the vessel.  Members of the public were also invited to bring wooden pieces to the West Sussex boatyard where the boat underwent construction.   However, there were conditions; the item must be significant to the owner and have a story behind it.  Each and every fascinating back-story was digitally recorded and the treasured item photographed with its donor before a thin cross-section was incorporated into the hull.

Donations included wood from Brighton’s West Pier and The Tudor ship The Mary Rose, a slither of wood from a Jimi Hendrix guitar, a Victorian policeman’s truncheon and a plank from the 2012 velodrome. The mast was donated by Hasting’s fishermen.  More personal and treasured everyday items such as hockey sticks,  a tennis racquet,  a clothes peg and hairbrush have all been beautifully incorporated into the boat.  The hull is fascinating to look at not only for the wooden objects themselves but for  the beauty, diversity and colour of the wood and grain.

The 30ft yacht is able to reach speeds of up to 20 knots and has so far visited Portsmouth, Margate, Brighton and Hastings on it’s voyage along the South Coast.  It will complete it’s journey by arriving at the Olympic sailing venue in Weymouth, Dorset, in time for the games in August.

Collective Spirit sails into Margate, her next port of call, on Saturday 14th July.  The Boat Project.