17m Beached Whale Launches Free Greenwich Festival

17m Beached Whale Launches Free Greenwich Festival

Wow, what a spectacle to launch the incredible and FREE Greenwich + Docklands International Festival 2013! The installation comes from the Belgian artists Captain Boomer Collective in collaboration with Zephyr Wildlife Reconstruction.

The whale was attended by a cast of scientists and rescue teams from 1-5pm today, Thursday 20th June on the Thames at the Cutty Sark. The whale will be moved by crane to the lawns of the Royal Naval College for the weekend, where it will be part of Greenwich Fair, a weekend event of free outdoor performances and events at the opening of GDIF2013.

The beaching captures our fascination and long relationship with the “otherness” of the sea. In the 18th Century Greenwich was the centre of the London whaling industry. A base for whaling fleets, the street lamps and houses were lit by whale oil, the cables for whaling were made in Greenwich and whale oil was used in the local wool industry. In 2010 the skeleton of a 12m whale was uncovered after 200 years under the river mud at Greenwich.

See the full FREE programme of the festival here, or watch this space for our top 5 picks!

Developed by GDIF in partnership with GLL Royal Greenwich libraries and the Royal Borough of Greenwich, the event will be chronicled by libraries writer in residence Lemn Sissay. Sissay was the official poet of the 2012 Olympics and in 2010 received an MBE from the Queen for Services to Literature. Working with local people, he will create a “backstory” to the beaching and the installation, drawing on Greenwich’s rich literary and historic association with whaling and giving it a contemporary edge. Lemn will be onsite in a mobile library van.

The event is in partnership with British Divers Marine Association who work in the Thames rescuing animals and preserving its environment –
‘Over the last few year we have been seeing more and more Whales and Dolphins around the coast of the British Isles. The beaching of this model sperm whale at Greenwich is something that could happen. If this was happening for real we would do all in our power to avoid a whale of this type and size stranding by using a flotilla of boat to gently coax the whale out of the river‘ Alan Knight OBE British Divers Marine Life Rescue

This event will epitomise the GDIF approach which, led by Artistic Director Bradley Hemmings, features fantastic arts events created with international and UK artists that entertain, provoke and amaze whilst telling a story – in this case the story of whales, conservation, Greenwich and The Thames.