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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Artist Frank Lund expains his passion behind the Making of the Grace Darling, Hoylake's latest seafront addition that is winning the admiration of people of all ages:

How the Grace Darling arrived on Hoylake’s shore is a simple story. Earlier in the year Barbara Singleton asked if we could make a driftwood boat for the Wirral Festival of Firsts. We could not obtain enough driftwood but we were given a fallen beech tree in Arrowe Park. Grace was completed in a little over three weeks and just in time for the festival.

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"Maybe it is “art” and maybe it isn’t. Whatever it is, it is there to be experienced, to be lived with, to be jumped on, interacted with, altered, copied, rebuilt and, most of all, enjoyed!"

But the building of Grace is another episode in what has become an ongoing journey of discovery for me, for Major, and the growing band of driftwood dreamers who give their time and skills to this magical project. We recycle materials to make things on the beach. We use whatever the Mersey delivers to make dolphins, sea-monsters, pirate ships, pirates, a stone Dragon, a Christmas Nativity, a memorial for those who died in the wars. We don’t always agree about what to make, about what materials should be used or about how things should look, but we do agree that we talk to all the people who want to talk and encourage all the people who want to be involved. That is the most important part of the project.

And people are ready to be involved. Everyday there are events, often small – tiny jewels, often amusing, sometimes crazy, amazing, beautiful and unpredictable. They go by so quickly that we can’t hold on to them all, can’t even remember them all. From the first day of work on Grace received a warm and enthusiastic welcome from local residents. If only we could remember more names! We won’t forget the people. We won’t forget the barefoot little girls taking immediate possession of “the ship” – at that stage just a line of pallets. We won’t forget the ship’s wheel, made and fitted by a local resident in the first few days. Leighton built his own boat from small pieces of wood. Amber Lily held the ladder when Graham was aloft fixing the rigging. We won’t forget Tracy – and not just because she made tea for us! I could make a long list of magical moments, of beautiful images, of acts of generosity, care and kindness. Facebook is a great help in getting us nearer to capturing these fleeting moments, and not only our own views, but the thoughts and experiences of others. Many thanks to all those who have contributed to our community page.

Grace is visible all along the promenade from King’s Gap to the RNLI building. A storm-tossed waif – impaled upon the rocks, or perhaps, still riding the waves of a stony sea. What is it that is so powerful and compelling about the ship on the beach? So many people feel that power and are drawn to this image. We don’t know how it works, but we think it does work, and we expect to learn more from the children and from all those who question, comment upon, criticise or approve of, what we do. Maybe it is “art” and maybe it isn’t. Whatever it is, it is there to be experienced, to be lived with, to be jumped on, interacted with, altered, copied, rebuilt and, most of all, enjoyed!

Do we have ambitions? Of course we do. The commission in New Zealand is slow to materialise but we would be delighted to see a ship on the Isle of Mann and maybe the Wirral fleet will grow – seven is a good number! But then there is the Caribbean connection …

We hope that Grace will develop and evolve over time as the people of Hoylake take ownership. We hope that Grace will bring pleasure and inspiration to children, of all ages, for years to come. We are very grateful to the many people who have taken part in the making of Grace.

Capt. Frank, Major C., The Pirate Widow, Graham the Knot, Rob the Rope, Manesha, Scooby (leading ship’s dog), Eddy (ship’s dog in waiting).


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