George Wyllie – The Paper Boat’ – Friday 1st July – Monday 26th September
The Scottish Maritime Museum has acquired two works from George Wyllie’s internationally celebrated sculptural memorial to Glasgow’s faded shipbuilding industry, The Paper Boat, as part of an ambitious project to create a nationally significant art collection.
The acquisitions – the QM Tender Boat and the intriguing ‘QM’ insignia – are two of the few remaining elements of Wyllie’s remarkable but temporary giant installation, which made waves at home and abroad in the nineties.
Launched on the Clyde in Glasgow in 1989, Wyllie’s monumental QM paper boat went on to make front page of the Wall Street Journal when it sailed into New York and berthed outside the World Financial Centre a year later. It was broken up after the seven year project ended.
The QM Tender Boat, which was made by Wyllie himself, and the ‘QM’, which is itself an important piece of contemporary art history, will now go on show as part of the Museum’s first major art exhibition under the SMMart acquisitions programme. SMMart has been made possible by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Collecting Cultures programme.
The exhibition, George Wyllie – The Paper Boat, will open in the Scottish Maritime Museum’s ‘cathedral of engineering’, the Linthouse, on Friday 1st July and run until Monday 26th September.
David Mann, Director of the Scottish Maritime Museum, says:
“We’re thrilled to acquire such integral elements of George Wyllie’s iconic homage to our lost shipbuilding industry. Characteristically humorous and questioning at the same time, these works add further weight to our growing art collection and a new dimension to the interpretation of our maritime heritage.”
Louise Wyllie adds:
“As a family member and as a Trustee of the George Wyllie Foundation, I am doubly-delighted that my father’s maritime-influenced work has found a permanent home at the Scottish Maritime Museum.
“The moment I walked into the amazing space which it inhabits, I knew that the Museum was the perfect home for this work relating to his famous Paper Boat installation. My father, an old Navy man, who loved everything to do with the sea, would have loved this place and I know he would be pleased that his work has ended up in it.”
The exhibition will also include works Wyllie created during the project which are on loan from the George Wyllie Foundation and the Estate of George Wyllie.
Visitors will also be able to enjoy the fascinating The Whys?man documentary film by Murray Grigor and see the small prototype paper boat which Wyllie tested at the Museum’s second location, the Denny Ship Model Tank in Dumbarton.
A second, smaller exhibition will go on display at the Scottish Maritime Museum in Dumbarton between Saturday 1st and Monday 31st October.
A full programme of events and activities celebrating George Wyllie and paper boats of all sizes and shapes will run at the Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine throughout the summer.
Event programme highlights include ‘Arrivals and Sailings : The Making of George Wyllie’, a discussion and book signing with co-authors, Louise Wyllie and Jan Patience; an evening screening of The Whys?man documentary film; origami and boat building workshops for all the family; boat racing; a Harbour Family Fun Day; and a Wee Boat Flotilla on the indoor and outdoor ponds.
The Museum is also inviting everyone to take part in a giant challenge to make 157,500 paper boats using paper kindly donated by event sponsor UPM Caledonian Paper in Irvine.
George Wyllie MBE (1921-2012) called himself a scul?tor, believing that the question mark should be at the centre of everything. A self-taught artist who began his creative career in his late 50s, he used wit and inventiveness to encourage us to question the world about us.
Wyllie, who was born in Shettleston, Glasgow, and lived most of his life in Gourock, is particularly well-known for his giant public artworks. These include The Paper Boat and Straw Locomotive, which both questioned and mourned the decline of Glasgow’s industrial heritage.
SMMart: Enriching the Imagery of Scotland’s Maritime Heritage
Other artworks acquired under the SMMart programme are ‘Figure of a Shipbuilder’ (c. 1949), a sculpture in cement fondue by Benno Schotz; ‘The Loss’ by Joyce Cairns; ‘Black Vessel Foundering’ and ‘Navigator’s Museum / Pelorus Pisces’ by Will Maclean; ‘The Clyde Coast’ (c. 1956), an historic travel poster printed by British Railways which copies represents Alasdair MacFarlane’s oil painting ‘The Clyde Coast/Kyles of Bute’ (c.1956) which is part of the Museum’s existing collection; ‘Propping Through Riverside’ (2011) an installation by architect Ann Nisbet and artist Patricia Cain; and ‘The Hole-Borer’ (1996) and ‘Dreadnought’ (1996) by Tom McKendrick.