The Art of Shipbuilding

Amber Films, 2017, 20 mins

Beginning with an exploration of the Shipyard paintings of Peter Burns and the poetry of welder Jack Davitt, aka Ripyard Cuddling, the moves becomes a poetic evocation of the lost streets of Wallsend and its shipbuilding community. Using footage from Amber’s Launch (1974) and Tyne Lives (1980), combining this with photographs from Bruce Rae’s Shipbuilding on the Tyne (1983) and from Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen’s River Project (1975) and her negative collection.

The origin of the film came in an Amber education project with Carville Primary School, based around Launch. At one of the screenings, set up to identify members of the community who could talk to the children about shipbuilding and the experience of the great ships being built at the end of the street, we met John Bridgewood, who had been a friend of Jack Davitt. We got in contact with the poet Keith Armstrong, whose father had worked in the yards and who had published Davitt’s Shipyard Muddling and More Muddling in the 1970s.

The making of the film film was supported by Paul Hamlyn Foundation.