Seeing the Duke of Lancaster from the road for the first time is a bit of a surreal experience. The North Wales coast road is a fairly uninteresting drive as coast roads go, you can rarely if ever see the sea, and the road is a frustrating affair of dual carriageways, single carriage ways, roundabouts, and constantly changing speed limits. But then, as you approach Mostyn, you see to your right, a large rusting white ship, seemingly in the middle of a field. It looks so incongruous as there is little evidence you are near the sea or estuary, and none you are near a port – no cranes, warehouses etc. It is a surreal sight.
This time I did a double take. The front of the ship seemed to be covered in graffiti. Not the regular stuff you see on shop fronts, or trains, but massive stuff, as big as a house. But I was running late for an appointment in nearby Prestatyn, so I had to press on.
On the way back, I parked up and wandered down the muddy path to the ship to see more. As I got nearer, I could see more on the starboard side of the ship, and this was starting to look more deliberate, more coordinated than common or garden opportunistic vandalism or graffiti / urban art. There were vehicles on site, and there was now a security hut next to the ship, and a large static caravan. All along the landbound starboard side were large artworks of good quality. It seemed quite surreal seeing this kind of thing on a ship. Graffiti is not uncommon on railway carriages and wagons, especially abroad, but railways are very much an urban thing, like graffiti. Seeing graffiti on a ship was a paradigm change. It was like seeing a giraffe with tusks and a trunk, or a dog driving a car. And this was especially so given the rural / coastal location of the ship.
As I walked along the footpath, I attracted the attention of the guys on site and asked about the ship. It’s no longer used as a warehouse, and they have plans to open up the site in the next year or so. The artwork was by artists from around the world, and it sounded like they intend to cover the entire ship, and I think they said they will be constantly changing it as they go along, but I’m not sure if I heard right.
It’s good to see something being done with the ship, and it sounds like what they’re doing is getting good publicity. I’m still trying to get my head round it and decide whether I like it. It’s certainly more colourful than before, but it used to have a faded, charm to it which I liked.