A familiar sight to many on the North Wales coast and now a re-invented landmark in it’s own right. What was once a passenger ferry has been transformed into an art gallery featuring graffiti and street art.
The Duke of Lancaster was a passenger ferry built in 1956 but was designed to operate not only as a passenger ferry but also as a cruise ship. In 1970 the vessel was converted to a car ferry and continued to operate up until 1979 where it was decommissioned and has laid at Llanerch-y-Mor, near Mostyn Docks on Deeside ever since.
Plans were adrift (no pun intended) to turn the vessel into a floating leisure and retail complex but never came to fruitition.
Over the years the vessel has been exposed to the elements with weathering taking place thus creating the derelict battered ship we see today.
With agreement from the vessel’s owner (John Rowley who currently lives in Romania) a collection of street artists calling themselves DuDug (wordplay on the Welsh for Black Duke) have began creating artwork on the side of the ship for everyone to enjoy.
Mr Rowley spoke to The Rhyl Journal:-
“I was contacted here in Romania by a person from the UK called Maurice, telling me she knew of a group of young art enthusiasts who had the idea of using the Duke of Lancaster as a venue for an open air art gallery.
“Never being involved in art, it wasn’t something that I could pass judgement on, but I must admit I could picture in my mind’s eye the suggestion becoming a huge tourist attraction, being alongside the coast road and adjacent to what could become an interesting part of the coastal path, given that sculpture parks are popular throughout Europe.
“I know the world is in crisis and any private enterprise in these times needs plenty of courage, and for young people to be even thinking along those lines then they need applauding.
The first featured video is from Latvian artist Kiwie and is titled ‘Black Duke’. They have really put a great effort into making this video which showcases the hard work of how painting such a strange (and unsafe) canvas as a rotting ship can be!
Findac from Ireland travelled across to add his huge piece of artwork to the end of the ship and has a selection available on his Flickr page:-
The second video features artists from Hungary known as Fat Heat and again is titled ‘The Black Duke’ – it’s another well put together video detailing the anticipation and planning that goes into these works.
Nick aka Annar_50 has unofficially become the official photographer of the art project and has many more available on his Flickr page:-
I hope these photos and videos show what a huge and interesting canvas this really is.
Measuring 110 metres long by 18 meters high and attracting artists from as far field as Russia and Hungary (and some a little bit nearer home) including Mr Zero, Bungle, Sweet Toof, Soulful Collective and the Cream Soda Crew.
French street artist Goin has created a giant mural of three monkeys sat on top of bags of money. Titled ‘Council of Monkeys’, with the monkeys representing the usual ‘hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil’.
FraggleHunter aka Sleepy G has taken many photos of The Duke of Lancaster – both on the ground and in the air and has a fantastic selection available on his Flickr page:- http://www.flickr.com/photos/fragglehunter/sets/72157628116968486/
BBC Wales Today also featured the open air gallery on their news bulletin on 10/12/2012 opening with a bit of wordplay, “Where once there was a galley, there’s now a gallery….”
After seeing all this creative talent I will most certainly be taking a trip up North soon! Urbex PLUS graffiti in one location RESULT. And a major thank you to all the photographers and artists that have allowed me to feature their work here. Thanks.