Scholarships > The Robson Real World Experience FundSetting sail to highlight global crisis

Setting sail to highlight global crisis

James Hutchinson

James Hutchinson

After more than a million people turned out to enjoy the Tall Ships in Sunderland, a boat of a different kind has been setting sail on the River Wear - and while this vessel may lack the sheer scale of the tall ships, it carries with it a very important message.

With sails made entirely from plastic bags, this adapted yacht has been created by staff and artists from the University, supported by The Robson Real World Experience Fund - a fund created by the University's Development Trust to help staff positively impact upon the wider student experience, and support current students in an area of expertise.

James Hutchinson, Contemporary Artist and MA Fine Art Programme Leader at the University, said: “Bagist Sail boat Performance is a work with a Pico sailboat with sails decorated or completely made from plastic bags in order to highlight plastic waste as the burning issue of our age.

"Two Fine Art students from The University of Sunderland and myself, constructed sails from plastic bags during the Easter holidays, using existing old sails as a template. Bagist Sail boat Performance is inspired by the work of Tomas Saraceno, Bas Jan Ader and my previous Bagist artworks”.

James enlisted the help of two students, Tamara Shaw (MA Fine Art) and Areti Chatzipavlou (BA Fine Art). Gavin Shaw, Tamara’s husband, and a water-sports consultant also provided invaluable support in navigating the boat on the Wear. 

After launching the boat between Sunderland Yacht Club and the National Glass Centre, James and students from Fine Art filmed the vessel. This video formed part of the performance 'All Plastic bags are art' which James delivered in Five Years Gallery Archway London as part of their project 'Being together is not enough'. It has also been screened in parts of Japan, including Tokyo, and in Edinburgh. 

James’ colleague Graham Mitchinson also collaborated on the project on the sound for the 30 minute video of Bagist Sail boat Performance.

"The video included footage shot by Tamara, Areti and me of the boat sailing on the River Wear and was edited by me," James explained.

He added: "I was very pleased with their support, artistry and enthusiasm."

James concluded: "I would like to thank the Robson Real World Experience Fund for supporting this project that the students described as enjoyable, enlightening and rewarding." 

Link to the video of Bagist Sail boat Performance: https://vimeo.com/281972429

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