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Posted 11.10.16

The Art of Making Yachts

By Phillip Buchan

Fern and Hannah's work displayed at Cannes Yachting Festival 2016.

At the Cannes Yachting Festival, Princess Yachts revealed an incredible artistic installation created by two of our 2016 graduates as part of a new ongoing partnership between Princess Yachts and the college.

Plymouth-based Princess Yachts epitomises the best of British manufacture, from its quality craftsmanship, design and engineering pedigree, to the refined elegant and luxury interior styling of its craft. Princess has a reputation for design, engineering and manufacturing excellence that has earned the company global appeal and established it as a truly international brand.

The partnership with Plymouth College of Art has evolved as part of Princess Yacht’s determination to show the beauty and craft behind every element of yacht manufacturing. Two of our most passionate and talented 2016 alumni, BA (Hons) Textiles graduate Hannah Webb and BA (Hons) Contemporary Crafts graduate Fern Robinson, have created a piece of art that brings to life the network of hidden wires that breathe life into every Princess Yacht.

Professor Andrew Brewerton, Principal at Plymouth College of Art, said: “After an immersive experience seeing how Princess crafts each and every yacht right here in Plymouth, we quickly established interaction to bring both entities closely together. The live:make philosophy of the college is brought to life every day at Princess, and Hannah and Fern have delivered a stunning concept that the college is very proud of.”

Fern (left) and Hannah (right) working in the Princess Yachts studio.

Hannah Webb and Fern Robinson both graduated this year from the college. With a BA (Hons) First Class degree in Contemporary Crafts, for this project designer/maker Fern looked primarily at tactile engagement. She utilised cables that are ordinarily found in the nervous system of a Princess yacht to power everything from instrumentation on the bridge to generators, engines to air conditioning, lights to latrines, and even audio and visual equipment.

Fern’s work was spotlighted this year by Confessions of a Design Geek and during her time at the college she curated the Echo exhibition using work from the Crafts Council Collection.

“The interaction between the college and Princess has only just begun." – Professor Andrew Brewerton, Principal at Plymouth College of Art

Specialising in surface pattern and print, BA (Hons) Textiles graduate Hannah also enjoys craft projects. At our 2016 Graduate Shows, Hannah’s work was chosen for further display at Brownston gallery in Modbury, Devon.

Following this, her upholstered chairs and wall hangings returned to the college for our Best of Summer Show (BOSS) exhibition in The Gallery. Hannah designs commercial and bespoke patterns and is setting up her own craft classes, with long-term plans to establish her own interior design brand.

Hannah, who brought a totally different perspective to the project, said: “Both Fern and I were able to bring a lot of ideas to the table. The design uses the very same cables found in a Princess, and as we worked through this piece, we uncovered many engineering parameters that posed challenges to our initial idea.

"The Princess craftsmen helped us along the journey, and we broke into new areas such as designing tool paths for CNC routing and looking at materials that we had never considered before.”

Speaking of the partnership Kiran Jay Haslam, Marketing Director for Princess said: “When people discover that here at Princess we make all of our wiring looms in-house and that the average M Class has over 27 miles of wiring aboard, the numbers become staggering.

We use approximately 2.5 million metres of wiring each year, which demonstrates the scale of what we do and the extent that we go to when building a Princess. The way in which both Fern and Hannah interpreted this rather unromantic aspect of yacht production has really brought the message to life.”

Fern went to Cannes to see her work and take part in the festival.

The artwork was revealed at the marine calendar’s most prestigious event – Cannes Yachting Festival at the Princess Yachts stand, before it travelled to Southampton Boat Show last month.

Our graduates were even invited to the launch in Cannes. The creation marks the first stage of the partnership between the two South West organisations that will see Princess become an industry partner as part of our on-going curriculum.

The collaboration is another way Princess is looking to support the local community, helping the area of Plymouth to thrive and grow, building on the brand's existing established apprenticeship scheme.

Professor Brewerton adds: “The interaction between the college and Princess has only just begun, however, both of us are looking at this venture to bring young artists with a live:make agenda solidly into the corporate world and industry.”

Both Princess’ Haslam and the college’s Professor Brewerton agree that what most areas of industry need is out-of-the-box thinking, because corporate life seems to all too easily lose an important aspect of tactility and personality, both of which are crucial for innovation and progression.