Vintage suits used; Navy wool and polyester St Michaels – Pale blue linen, wool mix Fox of London – Green cotton velvet Burtons – Pure wool tweed Hardy Amies.
‘All at Sea’. 2014 Site specific work for The Ross Tiger Trawler, Grimsby.
‘All at Sea’ consists of four mock fishermen’s kit bags, reconstructed from men’s vintage suit jackets. These kits bags are placed on-board the Ross Tiger, within the fishermen’s sleeping quarters, below deck, using existing hooks and rails. The original construction of each suit jacket has been used as much as possible. Where this has not been possible reconstruction and re-stitching mimics’ original tailored jacket pattern construction and stitching.
In context, the kit bags act as links between the Grimsby fishermen’s very different shore and sea lives, drawing on the deckhands tradition of wearing their ‘coming on board’ and ‘going ashore’ suits. Grimsby fishermen’s Kit bags were taken on and off the trawlers after three days on land or three weeks at sea. Nicknamed the ‘three day millionaires’, Grimsby fishermen shopped in Freeman Street – known as Fishermen’s High Street – where there were tailors such as Gerald Baileys, John Collier, Alexanders and Burtons; and high street department shops like Marks and Spencer’s and Woolworths. ‘All at Sea’ uses vintage jackets from Burtons and Marks & Spencers, once in Freeman Street and also from tailors Fox and Hardy Amies, London, as the ‘three day millionaires’ would have been able to afford these brands. Like tailoring, fishing is a skilled job, just as working the ship is a skilled job.
Kit Bags carried personal items and up to four changes of clothing. As men were frequently unable to wash, a change of clothes was as good as it got. The amount of times they got changed depended on what type of trip it was. On a not so good trip, then as many times as they could – On a good trip, may not bother! Young lads hung around the quayside to carry the men’s kit bags from the taxi onto ship and from ship to taxi. The three weeks at sea and three days ashore could make for an unsettled existence. The kit bags become a metaphor for the ongoing fisherman’s transition between sea and land life.
The Ross Tiger herself holds and preserves the nostalgia for the Grimsby fishing industry.