Ghost ships and hauntings: Ship to Shore's Art and the Lure of the Sea in Southampton

By Ben Miller | 04 March 2014

Exhibition preview: Ship to Shore: Art and the Lure of the Sea, John Hansard Gallery, SeaCity Museum, Southampton, until May 4 2014

A photo of a woman silhouetted against gates looking out to sea beneath cliffs
Isaac Julien, Western Union: Small Boats (The Leopard) (2007). Duratrans image in lightbox© Courtesy Isaac Julien / Victoria Miro, London
The shoreline of Southampton is a muse for artists in this exhibition between SeaCity Museum and John Hansard, with a distinctly ghostly breeze to Chris Burden’s Ghost Ship, Thomas Joshua Cooper’s haunting photography and film installations by Isaac Julien and Catherine Yass.

A photo of a ship on top of a metal pole deep out in a blue sea underneath a clear sky
Catherine Yass, Lighthouse (North) (2011). Duratrans transparency, lightbox© Courtesy Alison Jacques Gallery, London
At SeaCity, the likes of Tracey Emin, Tacita Dean, Yinka Shonibare and Richard Long fill the venue’s pavilion in one of the largest artistic homages to the city’s Transatlantic links. Historic paintings, posters and cruise ship memorabilia also featuring.

Observing Southampton’s place as a centre of excellence for all matters oceanic – its University is home to the Marine and Maritime Institute, including the National Oceanography Centre – Stephen Foster, the Director of John Hansard, says its history is “totally bound up with the sea.”

A photo of a miniature model of a ship inside a large glass bottle on top of a plinth
Yinka Shonibare MBE, Nelson's Ship in a Bottle (2009)© Courtesy Yinka Shonibare MBE / Stephen Friedman Gallery, London
“It is a particular ambition of mine to present contemporary art alongside historical artefacts,” he explains, calling Ship to Shore “fantastic” and the third temporary exhibition at SeaCity “a great opportunity”.

“No-one who lives here or comes to work, study or visit can fail to recognise the huge impact that its maritime history has.

"Its presence is felt throughout the city.”

  • John Hansard Gallery open 11am-5pm (4pm Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday). Admission free. SeaCity Museum open 10am-5pm. Admission £8.50/£6 (free for under-5s).

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