Abandoned Ship Is Reborn as a Canvas

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July 5 2013 12:30 PM

Rusting Ship Transformed Into Gallery of Street Art

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This rusting passenger ship, beached for decades on the Welsh River Dee, is currently transforming into a giant canvas for street artists from around the world.

Built in 1956, the Duke of Lancaster originally operated as a ferry and cruise ship. By 1979 it was out of service, but not out of use. Docked near the small village of Mostyn, the Duke became "The Fun Ship," an '80s entertainment venue featuring restaurants, bars, and arcades. The Fun, however, was short-lived—plans to transform the ship into a 300-room hotel never materialized, and the local council's safety concerns forced the closure of the venue in 1985. 


The Duke sat quietly in the sand, its arcade machines gathering dust. But another reinvention came in 2012, courtesy of local street art collective DuDug. Operating under a simple philosophy—"Your ship looked like s--t so we painted it!"—DuDug recruited artists to paint their work on the ship's hull. The Duke's exterior is now covered with art, including a businessman in a balaclava, a geisha holding a fan, and a 30-foot-tall trio of chimps in suits.

Despite the anti-authority theme of much of the artwork, DuDug's transformation project is taking place with the permission of the ship's owners. The group hopes that the Duke will eventually become a gallery, forming the focal point for art festivals and drawing more visitors to the quiet region.

Ships living a second life:

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