Songs of the Sea

21 Jul 2011 – 30 Oct 2011

Cost of entry


The National Glass Centre

Sunderland, United Kingdom

Travel Information

  • Nearest Metro stop: St. Peter's

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Focusing on the sea as a metaphor for storytelling, this exhibition explores, through artists' work, archive ships' logs and sound recordings, some remarkable stories of personal experiences of the sea. 'Songs of the Sea' is inspired by an Irish folk song The Parting Glass - popular in the early and late 1800s, it is often played or sung at the end of a gathering of friends. It may be about the leaving of, or longing for, a place and family or even about loss of life, but essentially its bittersweet melody and lyrics are open for people to interpret in their own way. Artists' work includes Richard Marquis' Razzle Dazzle Boats and Laura Belem's The Temple of a Thousand Bells. Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial 2010, this installation consists of 1,000 blown glass bells with an accompanying polyphonic sound track that narrates an ancient legend about a temple that sank into the ocean, and of a young man who sat for days by the sea hoping to catch the sound of the melodious bells again. World leading research currently being undertaken at the University of Sunderland by Professor Dennis Wheeler analyses historical ships' logs in an effort to increase scientific understanding of climate change. We invite Professor Wheeler to select logs about life at sea, and some of the personal observations recorded by mariners during their expeditions. Also presented are sound recordings, originally made on wax cylinders in the 1920s, of sea shanties sung by retired Sunderland mariners.


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