Olympic Boat Project Launched

A boat crafted from 1,200 pieces of wood, including fragments from the Mary Rose and Jimi Hendrix's guitar, has been officially unveiled as part of a national art project to mark the Olympics.

Created as a ''floating collage of memories'', The Boat Project has been funded by the Arts Council England's Artists' Taking the Lead project as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

The artists who came up with the idea, Gary Winters and Gregg Whelan, known as Lone Twin, visited 20 locations across the region seeking contributions to be used in the building of the craft, which will be launched and named on Monday.

They also invited members of the public to bring wooden pieces to the West Sussex boatyard where it was built. The only criteria was that the items were made from wood and had a story behind them.

The diverse contributions include a plank from the London 2012 velodrome, several hockey sticks, a Victorian policeman's truncheon, large crates used to transport gold as British securities to Canada during the Second World War and a hairbrush used by a make-up artist at Pinewood Studios in the 1960s.

A spokeswoman for the project said:

''People from all walks of life responded by giving treasured items from all parts of the world and, more humbly, their garages.

''Each and every fascinating back-story was digitally recorded and photographed with its donor.''

Mr Winters said that a sense of fun flowed through the whole design and construction of the boat.

Every piece of donated wood tells a story

He said: ''The call-out was for objects which had a significance and a story, and people responded to that in all sorts of ways and we were given some lovely, lovely things, personal and emotional things.

''It's very difficult to be very serious with an aardvark and a coat hanger.

''I don't have any favourites but I like a stick which came from someone who made a pilgrimage to Sad Hill Cemetery in Spain, which was used for the set of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, and that stick has made a migration to the boat and will continue to do so.''

Mr Winters added: ''It has been an inclusive project about bringing peoples' lives to the front and celebrating ordinary people's lives in something extraordinary.''

As well as Lone Twin, the build team also included Olympic silver medallist sailor and boat-builder Mark Covell and international boat designer Simon Rogers.

Mr Rogers said his aim was to combine traditional wooden boat-building techniques combined with modern technology to build a 21st-century yacht.

He added: ''We had no idea what was going to be given to us and the first question a designer is asked is 'what are you going to make it of?', and I had 1,500 pieces of wood.

''From a design point of view it was a very challenging brief as we were completely in the dark.''

The yacht, which took a year to build and which is capable of reaching speeds in excess of 20 knots, is to be publicly launched at Thornham Marina at Emsworth on Monday, May 7.

The vessel's name has been chosen by the public and the winning nomination will be unveiled as part of the launch day.

It will then begin its maiden voyage visiting locations along the south coast arriving at the Olympic sailing venue in Weymouth, Dorset, in time for the games in August.

Olympic boat