Spirit of the Seas
A heritage in woodAn exhibition of merchant and naval figureheads
International Festival of the Sea, Portsmouth, UK
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With the International Festival of the Sea over and the
Spirit of the Seas exhibition coming to a close, our own UK agent and noted figurehead historian Mr. Richard
Hunter has reported back to let us know that this one of a kind exhibition was a rousing success.
Against a backdrop of dozens of the worlds tall sailing ships Richard and his team presented
the world of ship   figureheads to an enthusiastic crowd of thousands over the four days of the festival.
As expected, the festival attracted visitors of all ages from around the UK
and the world, providing Richard with the unique opportunity to share his extensive knowledge of this fascinating topic to a diverse audience. Noted visitors to the Spirit
of the Seas   exhibition included Mr. Norman Brouwer,   author of the International Register of Tall Ships and former curator of the South Street Seaport Library.
During almost nine months of preparation for the exhibition, Richard was able to gather over a dozen historic figureheads from both public   and   private collections
and together with the exhibits sponsors, Deep Blue Signs and Glendale Nautical, he designed unique displays to present them to the public. Having spoken with Richard
in the months leading up to the festival,   the displays themselves were one of his
main focuses. As Richard noted , "The ability to properly display these pieces in a secure yet accesible manner was
critical". Judging from the size of the crowd shown at the left, It would appear his concerns were not unfounded. Aside from the practical, the exhibition itself revolved around the design of the displays. In addtion to the figureheads themselves each display featured a large format image from Mr. Hunters Heritage Collection of 19th and early 20th century figurehead images, along with an example of rare figurehead poetry from his extensive archives. Brought together in a single display, these items presented the art of the figurehead in all its varied forms, captivating the audience and drawing them into the depth of the art form itself.
Spirit of the Seas exhibition
Beyond the figurehead displays themselves, the exhibition featured Andy Peters providing real life demonstrations of the art of figurehead carving, as he worked on his current commission, the figurehead for the 18th Century Swedish East India Company ship GOTHEBORG . The fesitval exhibition concluded with the judging of a figurehead carving competition which had been organized amongst various groups of school children from the surrounding area. Richard was quite proud to have been abale to judge the finalists and announce the winners to a cheering crowd. In his own words, "The children are the future of the art of figurehead carving and I was quite pleased to be able to provide them with with such an enjoyable and educational experience on the subject."
Read Richard Hunters full commentary