Leith Docks ship to become giant work of art

A 'dazzle ship' pictured in Liverpool. Picture: Wikicommons
A 'dazzle ship' pictured in Liverpool. Picture: Wikicommons
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A FORMER lighthouse service ship is to be turned into a giant work of docklands art in Edinburgh to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.

Glasgow-based Turner Prize nominee Ciara Phillips will be converting the MV Fingal, which dates back to 1963, into a modern-day “Dazzle Ship” in Leith Docks.

The Fingal, now known as the Windsor Castle.

The Fingal, now known as the Windsor Castle.

It saw more than 2000 ships, many based in Leith Docks, painted in disorientating shapes and violent flashes of colour to make it difficult to estimate their range, speed and direction of travel.

The Leith Dazzle Ship, which will be unveiled in May and will be on display during the Edinburgh Art Festival this summer, follows similar projects in Liverpool and London which artists have worked on as part of the UK’s official cultural programme to mark the war centenary.

The project by Phillips, a Glasgow School of Art graduate, will be unveiled shortly before the Fingal becomes a floating hotel beside the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Plans were unveiled two years ago for a conversion of the vessel, which operated out of Oban for 30 years before a six-year stint in Orkney, into a 25-room boutique hotel. Work on the £1 million project is due to start in September ahead of a 2018 opening.

Festival director Sorcha Carey said: “The project continues to build on the festival’s history of commissioning leading Scottish and international contemporary artists to develop ambitious new projects for the city.

“We’re particularly excited to expand our programming beyond the festival dates and to extend its reach beyond the city centre to Leith.”

Rear Admiral Neil Rankin, chairman of the Royal Yacht Britannia Trust, said: “We are delighted that our new acquisition has been chosen to be dazzle painted, because of the significant role Leith played in the First World War.”

Other projects due to take place in Scotland including the installation of a “Weeping Window” poppies sculpture in St Magnus Cathedral in Orkney.