Stuart Brisley

Crossings offers a compelling account of two famous 20th century maritime tragedies, the sinking of RMS Titanic in 1912 and MV Estonia in 1994.

The exhibition features new works by British artist Stuart Brisley. Touching Black Ice is a sound installation exploring the legacy of the Titanic. Centred around a full-size sailing boat, emotive soundscapes interweave with interpretations of oral testimony from Titanic survivors. The boat forms a symbolic centre-piece, a vessel charged with catastrophic significance. (The boat is a beautiful hand-made ‘Wagtail’ dinghy loaned by Hampshire-based Salterns Boatbuilders – see below for more details.

Elsewhere a new film, Estonia, retraces the circumstances surrounding the more recent Baltic disaster. Revisiting the embarkation points and sea routes of the MV Estonia, Brisley combines filmed footage with his own spoken narrative describing the event. The film is interspersed with diagrammatic imagery of the ferry’s final movements, combined with chilling radio exchanges between the sinking Estonia and approaching ships.

The exhibition examines how these disasters reflect the anxieties of the age in which they occurred. The Titanic, with the loss of 1523 lives after leaving the port of Southampton on its maiden voyage in 1912, shattered the belief that the machine age would conquer nature. And in 1994 the sinking of the MV Estonia Ferry in the Baltic Sea, with 852 lives lost, has been surrounded by conspiracy theories of military involvement.

The exhibition provides a compelling account of two events that shook the world at the beginning and end of the 20th century.

Stuart Brisley (1933-) has been a prolific contributor to the British and international art scene since the 1960s as an artist, writer and educator, whose highly-politicised practice encompasses performance, object making, film and installation.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a new publication with essays by Stuart Brisley, Stephen Foster, Director, John Hansard Gallery, Andrew Wilson, Curator of Modern and Contemporary British Art, Tate, and Anders Härm, Curator, Tallinna Kunstihoone, Estonia.

Stuart Brisley: Crossings is a John Hansard Gallery exhibition supported by The Henry Moore Foundation and the Oral History Unit, Southampton City Council. Sailing boat kindly loaned courtesy Salterns Boatbuilders, Bursledon, Hampshire.

About Salterns Boatbuilders:

“At Salterns, we take traditional designs, proven over decades of use, and utilise modern materials and the very best solid teak joinery to create practical boats with a beautiful simplicity of form following function, seaworthy and fast, with excellent performance.”

About the Wagtail:

” The Wagtail has been reproduced from an old clinker sailing dinghy, typical of the better sorts that were built locally around the Solent from the 1920s to the 1950s. She has a tremendous hull form with a firm turn to the bilge making her stable; a high bow and good freeboard making her dry and a fine entry forward with a good flat run aft giving the hull a good potential for speed. She has a traditional gunter rig, easy to use, great for learning but capable of satisfying the most experience sailor. “

Salterns Boatbuilders Ltd – Tel: 023 8040 7606

The Boatyard Email – [email protected]

Salterns Lane Website –

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