A Tyne Metropolitan College art student’s depiction of Donald Campbell’s famous Bluebird speedboat in all its racing glory has been praised by the engineer who salvaged the craft from the lake where it crashed.
Bill Smith, 51, said Wendy Hodgson’s painted impression captured the feel of the vessel traveling at speed – and probably also its colour.
He said Bluebird underwent numerous colour variations during its 13-year active life and Wendy’s chosen shade would likely have featured.
Hers is one of sixteen 6ft sq paintings based on a theme of movement to have gone on display for the next year at the Beacon Centre in North Shields.
All have been created by students taking a full-time Foundation Degree in Applied Fine Art Practice, or the part-time HNC.
Other images include a depiction of a roller skater twisting in the air, a woman performing yoga, and a pack of dogs chasing a hare.
And another shows water cascading down a Lake District hill, with almost unseen Ordinance Survey maps of the area embedded within.
Bill joined the students, Norma Redfearn, the Mayor of North Tyneside, and pupils from Christ Church CoE Primary School, North Shields, for the exhibition’s launch.
North Shields-born Bill, who led the 2001 salvage of Bluebird from the bottom of Coniston in the Lake District, also heads its restoration project.
The vessel crashed on January 4, 1967, while travelling at around 300mph, killing Campbell, 45, instantly.
Bill said: “The theme of the exhibition is movement and Wendy’s painting captures that very well. Only two colours have been identified as being on Bluebird, and they were painted on in 1954 and 1967.
“Between those dates different paints were used, all sorts of colours went on, and so what Wendy has may well be right. Her image shows a nice clear day – with it being the Lakes, what may be missing is the rain and the fog.
“The image of speed is well portrayed, and that’s what Donald was all about.”
Wendy, 51, from North Shields, said: “I’ve always had a fascination with history and so when the theme of movement came along, I was already aware of Bill’s role in the salvage and reconstruction.
“He was enthusiastic about it as a way of letting the younger generation know about Bluebird and about history.
“I’m really pleased that Bill was at the launch to see it although beforehand I was a little worried about what he’d think of the shade of blue I used.”
It is the third time in five years that TyneMet students have displayed their work to the public in the main Northumberland Square area at the Beacon Centre.
Sharon Douglass created an image of a man on a speedboat, Clive Somerville depicted the roller-skater, Hannah Robinson a wave, Amelia Clark-Sutton a wave crashing against Tynemouth Pier, Penny Evans a white horse in motion, and Katie Stewart the moon.
Hayley Crawford painted two naked dancers embracing, Karl Jeffrey’s image showed a pack of dogs in action, Rebecca Poremba portrayed a woman performing a yoga wheel pose, and Jean Coldwell’s image was of a stream at Hartsop, Cumbria.
Paul Reeve depicted a reclining lady whose hair is a waterfall, Holly Richardson a woman’s face and symbols depicting movement, Andrew Hodgson showed two hands moving together, Shannon Waugh’s painting was of a baby’s hands, and Harris Scott a mountain.
Foundation degree student Katie, 19, said: “The image of the moon portrays how everyone on Earth is affected by movement, no matter how big or small.
“I hope people who see it gain a sense of that, but I also hope they can make up their own minds about it and take from it whatever they want to.”
And part-time HNC student Clive, who works as a facilities manager, said: “The course has been a steep learning curve for me, but I’ve really enjoyed the experience.
“I’ve grown in confidence throughout it and it’s a very proud moment for me to see my work on public display.”
Course leader Dr John O’Rourke said: “The courses have a vocational slant and I didn’t want to give out a project theme that was too prescriptive, which would not prepare them for the nature of most real commission briefs, but the idea of movement seemed apt.
“The idea of movement also sits with the paintings being positioned in a thoroughfare within a shopping centre. They are loosely related to space but not limited by it.
“All the works are very impressive and reveal a range of vivid ideas that have been very well brought to life.”
Centre Manager David Menzies added: “The Beacon Centre takes pride in being able to provide young artists with a platform to display their work, as well as display their talent and skills to the community of North Shields.”