A Carnival Aboard HMS Belfast

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 40 months ago
A Carnival Aboard HMS Belfast ★★★☆☆ 3
View of The Tourists – an art intervention by Hew Locke on board HMS Belfast. Photographed 24th March 2015. Artist Hew Locke presents The Tourists, an imaginative art intervention aboard HMS Belfast.  Inspired by the ship’s last international voyage through the Caribbean in 1962, Locke creates an alternative history, where the crew took part in Trinidad’s Carnival. He has costumed the models of sailors which are part of the ship’s normal displays. They have masks and tattoos for the celebrations which represent the hopes and fears of the ship’s crew.
View of The Tourists – an art intervention by Hew Locke on board HMS Belfast. Photographed 24th March 2015. Artist Hew Locke presents The Tourists, an imaginative art intervention aboard HMS Belfast.  Inspired by the ship’s last international voyage through the Caribbean in 1962, Locke creates an alternative history, where the crew took part in Trinidad’s Carnival. He has costumed the models of sailors which are part of the ship’s normal displays. They have masks and tattoos for the celebrations which represent the hopes and fears of the ship’s crew.
View of The Tourists – an art intervention by Hew Locke on board HMS Belfast. Photographed 24th March 2015. Artist Hew Locke presents The Tourists, an imaginative art intervention aboard HMS Belfast.  Inspired by the ship’s last international voyage through the Caribbean in 1962, Locke creates an alternative history, where the crew took part in Trinidad’s Carnival. He has costumed the models of sailors which are part of the ship’s normal displays. They have masks and tattoos for the celebrations which represent the hopes and fears of the ship’s crew.
View of The Tourists – an art intervention by Hew Locke on board HMS Belfast. Photographed 24th March 2015. Artist Hew Locke presents The Tourists, an imaginative art intervention aboard HMS Belfast.  Inspired by the ship’s last international voyage through the Caribbean in 1962, Locke creates an alternative history, where the crew took part in Trinidad’s Carnival. He has costumed the models of sailors which are part of the ship’s normal displays. They have masks and tattoos for the celebrations which represent the hopes and fears of the ship’s crew.
View of The Tourists – an art intervention by Hew Locke on board HMS Belfast. Photographed 24th March 2015. Artist Hew Locke presents The Tourists, an imaginative art intervention aboard HMS Belfast.  Inspired by the ship’s last international voyage through the Caribbean in 1962, Locke creates an alternative history, where the crew took part in Trinidad’s Carnival. He has costumed the models of sailors which are part of the ship’s normal displays. They have masks and tattoos for the celebrations which represent the hopes and fears of the ship’s crew.
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Londonist Rating: ★★★☆☆

The HMS Belfast is an impressive sight, moored on the Thames between London Bridge and Tower Bridge. But it's now a little more celebratory thanks to some interventions by artist Hew Locke.

The Belfast's last international voyage was in 1962 to Trinidad; it arrived in June but Locke imagines a world where it arrived a few months earlier in time for Carnival. Caught up in the momentum of this celebratory occasion the interior of the Belfast has been transformed into a more joyous space.

The chef toiling away in the kitchen filleting a fish now wears a flamboyant mask and the crewmen playing cards sport extravagant hats featuring multiple skulls. Locke has tried to stay true to the time and location, so all the hats are made with items that would have been found on the ships, so in some cases lengths of rope have been co-opted into creating rather rudimentary face masks.

This display extends throughout five levels of the ship from down in the shell room up to the Captain's cabin near the bridge, even the men in the punishment cells are in on the festivities.

There's a darker side to Locke's work too, a black scale model of the Belfast represents the ship of death as it hangs above a patient on the operating table and some of the masks look particularly sinister.

The HMS Belfast is fascinating to explore at any time, but this installation has just made it all the more interesting and fun.

The Tourists - an art intervention by Hew Locke is on at HMS Belfast until 7 September. Tickets to board the Belfast are £14.50 for adults, concessions available.

Last Updated 01 April 2015