Work commissioned by Arts Council of England and Cammell Laird Shipyard, Birkenhead




“Patricia MacKinnon-Day has done much to symbolise the traditions at Cammell Laird through her contemporary artwork. The management and workforce were proud to be associated with Patricia during her year long residency, the first visual artist to be in residence – a new experience for all involved.”


Peter Dunn, Contract Commercial Director


Cammell Laird was one of the most admired British shipbuilding companies. The tradition of shipbuilding and ship-repair on the banks of the Mersey commenced in 1824 when William Laird, a Scotsman, established a shipbuilding company near Birkenhead. Few shipbuilders in the world can boast the number of pioneering achievements notched up by William Laird and his family. These include the building of the first iron, steel and all welded ships, hundreds of warships and submarines for the Royal Navy and ocean going liners such as the SS Mauretania.


The year of the artist proved to be a valuable and invigorating insight in the work of a serious contemporary artist. Patricia MacKinnon-Day who spent a year in the shipyard working alongside the workforce, studying their habits, skills and work techniques before then creating visual exhibits which serve to symbolise the life of the shipyard an its employees.


This was no easy task given the immense pressure that exists within the yard to complete ship repair and conversion projects I tight timescales. This resulted in the artist having to work from her own initiative while sourcing for materials, time and assistance to create her artwork. To do this she had to very slowly but meaningfully encourage those around her to step into the world of contemporary art, leaving behind preconceived ideas and taking a more lateral view of art. I believe that this was a worthwhile educational experience for all and whcih for some will e part of an ongoing experience. The search for hidden meaning and metaphorical comparison is fascinating for those who previously viewed fine art as something excluded from their world. For some the exclusion will continue but for others the journey is merely beginning.


It is interesting to note that the work force has demonstrated an interest in Patricia MacKinnon-Day’s art work across the social spectrum and not just form the perceived high intellectual levels of senior management. Workers at all levels and from all age groups have taken an interest in Patricia’s work and have made contributions towards it.


The proof of this is the large number who came to visit the exhibition in their own time. This clearly demonstrates an interest but what this is to those involved is something that is far too complex to explain or understand.