New poetry and projection captures audacious homecoming 50 years on
- Spoken word and visual art collaboration conveys the relevance of the SS Great Britain today. The ship represents experiences of emigration and transition, and her rescue 50 years ago resonates now more than ever, channelling stories of optimism, ambition and achieving success against the odds.
- Bristol’s Limbic Cinema and poet Saili Katebe bring a contemporary creative response to the ship’s Bristol homecoming.
- The film will be launched on Sunday 19 July from 9am at: www.ssgreatbritain.org/anniversaryweekend
Wiltshire writer and performance poet Saili Katebe has written a new poem, marking the SS Great Britain’s 50 years ‘back home’ in Bristol. Known as the world’s first great ocean liner, the ship was rescued in 1970 when the hull was at risk of splitting in two. The SS Great Britain is now back in her original dockyard, enjoyed by 200,000 visitors a year as part of Europe’s most-welcoming museum (European Museum of the Year Awards 2019).
Together with Limbic Cinema – a Bristol-based multimedia design studio who led this project and donated their time to the charity – Saili captures the audacity of the 1970 rescue. Saili said:
“I was taken by the stories and history. She is clearly very special, there was a lot of hard work and dedication that went into bringing her back and preserving her. Now more than ever, it’s invaluable to hear and explore stories from across the globe, and as the first ship of her time to do travel as far and as often as she did, there are so many stories still to be discovered, so much truth and life to be uncovered and learned from. It was an honour to be part of this anniversary project, to celebrate the ingenuity of the ship and that passion for what we can learn from its stories.”
Limbic Cinema has worked on projection projects across the world including at Glastonbury, Hull UK City of Culture and Vivid Sydney in Australia. As a team of award-winning projection artists, Limbic Cinema captured elements of the poem projected onto the SS Great Britain’s hull and interiors, producing a video in partnership with Woven Films.
Limbic Cinema is collaborating with Brunel’s SS Great Britain on a largescale event for Bristol Harbour Festival 2021 (postponed from 2020) and has been delighted to work on this video project to mark the ship’s homecoming anniversary. Thom Buttery, founder and visual artist at Limbic Cinema said:
“It was a privilege to work with such an important relic of Bristol’s history as a canvas for projection, allowing us to highlight the details of the ship and its rescue mission. Saili’s poetry brought the community spirit surrounding her return to light and it was through this fresh perspective we aimed to portray the ship.”
Patsy Connor, Creative Director for the SS Great Britain Trust, said:
“This unique collaboration brings together established and emerging talent from Bristol’s abundant arts scene, the captivating visual imagery of Limbic Cinema, and the contemporary voice of Saili Katebe, one of Bristol’s ‘Boat Poets’ collective who took up a short residency on the SS Great Britain last year as part of the city’s ‘Afrika Eye’ festival.”
The new video featuring Saili’s poem will be premiered online at ssgreatbritain.org from Sunday 19 July – marking the 50th anniversary of the SS Great Britain’s homecoming.
About Brunel's SS Great Britain
Brunel’s SS Great Britain is the world’s first great ocean liner and the most experimental steam ship of her time. Launched in 1843, this iron-hulled steamship revolutionised travel and set new standards in engineering, reliability and speed. Today, Brunel’s SS Great Britain has won more than 20 national and international museum awards including UK Museum of the Year and Enjoy England Large Visitor Attraction of the Year. It is also home to the Brunel Institute, housing one of the world’s finest maritime and Brunel collections.
About the 50th anniversary
2020 marks 50 years since the rescue of the SS Great Britain which started its voyage to becoming Bristol’s favourite visitor attraction (TripAdvisor) and Europe’s most-welcoming museum (European Museum of the Year Awards 2019). From humble beginnings, as the rusting hull limped back into the city in July 1970, the SS Great Britain has grown into an award-winning visitor attraction, which protects and cares for Brunel’s legacy and one of the world’s most important historic ships. That rescue and homecoming story is one of audacity, ambition and ultimately achieving success-against-the-odds. The incredible people involved in making it happen – from the divers to the photojournalists who documented the entire project – capture a spirit of human endeavour.