Most people walk along a beach and see the sand and the sea, they pick up shells, maybe throw a ball for the dog or help a child build a castle. Some people walk along a beach and see a pirate ship. Ok, at the time the pirate ship isn’t actually on the beach, but in the eye of the artist, the piece of driftwood becomes a deck, seaweed a garland and the Black Pearl is born.
This is a real story. The Black Pearl is a wooden ship, that sits on the shore on the banks of the Mersey. It just happens that it has been built on my childhood playground. Oh to be a child there now. When the artists first started building the ship no one really could have seen what was beginning. Made entirely from material found on the beach the ship became a focal point for local people. I first visited in the Autumn and was entranced by the detail, the passion and the fun in every part of the boat.
It has, as all good pirate ships should, had a few misadventures. The first a fire, perhaps started in jest maybe in mischief, which damaged the deck, and what happened next? The community came together to rebuild it. A working party of Mums, Dads and children plus more than a few doggies. Working together with the artists now turned pirates, the ship was repaired. Once again proud, and surrounded by more good spirits the Spring tides brought the next adventure, much feared by ships and sailors alike. The storms and waves, the wind driving the power of water as it broke against the wooden deck and carried almost all of the good ship away on the tide. Surely this must be the end.
The pirates were not to be defeated. The community brought wood, once again people helped to rebuild. The river settled, down the winds ceased and bit by bit wood and decking from all parts of the ship washed up along either side of the river where they were found and returned. A fabulous effort saw the Black Pearl rise again onto the shore. bigger and better than before.
The story isn’t over. I could tell you about the hundreds of school children who have had fun on her decks, the celebration of a little pirate’s life, who is sadly no longer with us, and the families who regard her as their own. The art exhibition celebrating the journey, the Bonfire party on the beach. How wonderful this is.
To my knowledge there is no government department involved in this project, no taxpayers money has been spent, no local authority has submitted plans and set admission charges. This is what happens when a couple of artists decide to build what is in their minds, and the community understands and supports the magic.
I am a big fan of the Black Pearl, and its community, but it is important to look beyond the physical structure and to begin to understand what is really going on down on the beach. The community of support, the smiles and laughter, all together has created the ownership of something that at once belongs to nobody and to everyone. How much better would life be in every community if a artists magic can be captured and even grown ups can live their dreams?
If you can get to the beach do so, better still if you can take children if not no matter, awake the child within, embrace your inner pirate, delight in playing on the shore. Be Peter Pan, take part in Treasure Island, on the Black Pearl, it is all for the doing.