May 20, 2010
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Queen Elizabeth
Countdown to Queen Elizabeth – 144 days
As Queen Victoria’s guests and TOGs enjoy the Mediterranean and Queen Mary 2 continues her transatlantic season, last night the focus was all on our new Queen. I was fortunate enough to be invited to an event, not where Queen Elizabeth is currently under construction, in Italy, but at David Linley’s Gallery in London’s West End. I attended the special event with Cunard’s President and Managing Director, Peter Shanks, the Cunard Marketing and Public Relations Team, David Linley and his staff as well as about thirty members of the press. I’ll continue the story after this week in Cunard’s history from 2 to 27 May:
|21 May 1983||QE2 makes her maiden call to Genoa, Italy|
|22 May 1900||The Saxonia begins her maiden voyage from Liverpool to Boston at a speed of 15 knots. She is14,200 tons and has the tallest funnel in the world at a staggering 106 feet from deck to cowl.|
|22 May2008||Queen Victoria makes maiden call at Bergen|
|23 May 1912||The Imperator is launched by Kaiser Wilhelm II. She becomes the Berengaria in 1921 after brief service as the USS Imperator|
|24 May 1997||QE2 makes her maiden call at Corfu, Greece|
|25 May 2008||Queen Victoria makes her maiden call at Stavanger, Norway|
|27 May 1936||Maiden Voyage of the RMS Queen Mary from Southampton to New York. It was hoped she would take the Blue Ribband from the Normandie but due to fog had to slow down and didn’t achieve it. A few weeks later however she achieved the record for the fastest round trip.|
There was an air of anticipation and excitement last night as the gathered guests wondered what announcement was about to be made at the exclusive cocktail party. With less than 21 weeks before entering service more and more details of our new Queen are being revealed as The World Awaits her naming and maiden voyage in October.
As we soon found out, the evening was to celebrate a major piece of artwork which will be the centrepiece of Queen Elizabeth’s Grand Lobby. The challenge for designers was deciding how to treat the significant central space on the sweeping staircase of the ship, which is the first area to greet embarking guests. In a short speech just before the unveiling, Peter Shanks said:
“We needed to fill that space with something which would not just be dramatic, a ‘wow’ factor in an area already full of ‘wow’, but which would also reflect our emphasis on traditional and sumptuous materials. After much thought and exploratory work, it was decided to commission a 5.6-metre (18 ft 6 in) high marquetry panel depicting the original Queen Elizabeth, an Art Deco icon, using a variety of natural woods from around the world. Once we had decided on the theme and the medium, it didn’t take us long to conclude that no-one was better qualified for this detailed but monumental work than the company of the exceptional craftsman David Linley, whose creative ability and mastery of wood is renowned”.
Then commenting on the challenges faced by the bespoke commission, Linley’s Chairman, David Linley, who founded the company in 1985, said: “Though we have made fittings for luxury yachts in the past, this is the first sea-going work we have done on this scale – but it was a commission I was delighted to accept. I recall my father saying the interior design on Cunard’s QE2 made one proud to be British, so I am hoping our achievement on the new Queen Elizabeth will make him – and others – equally proud”.
Then ribbons on either side of a blue silk cloth were cut simultaneously by Peter Shanks and David Linley to reveal the beautiful artist’s impression of the artwork that will be the centrepiece for Queen Elizabeth.
Then it was time for some photos and here are Peter Shanks and David Linley next to the newly revealed piece, which shows the port bow of the original Queen Elizabeth seen dramatically from sea level, intricately executed using the technique of marquetry inlay in nine different types of wood veneers. Spanning 2½ decks, the marquetry panel features Madrona, Indian ebony, American walnut, grey ripple sycamore, burr ash, bird’s eye maple, satin walnut , ash, burr walnut and Macassar ebony – all used to depict the evocative image of Queen Elizabeth.
I then chatted to Peter who told me about Linley, a company specialising in the design and manufacture of fine furniture and marquetry, and how the company was commissioned to design and make this stunning piece of artwork. He told me work is currently under way, and the completed panel will be shipped during the summer to the Fincantieri shipyard at Monfalcone, Italy, where it will be installed over a period of four days to take pride of place just before the ship enters service in October. Here’s an artist’s impression of the full piece.
As well as Peter Shanks I was also able to chat to David Linley and the head of design at Linley, Mark Blanchard, and fortunately our film crew were they to capture the whole event in an exclusive We Are Cunard video blog. What a great evening and we are all excited to see the finished work taking its place in Queen Elizabeth’s Grand Lobby, and here is an artist’s impression of how the lobby will look in October.
What a great evening and we are all excited to see the finished work taking its place in Queen Elizabeth’s Grand Lobby, and here is an artist’s impression of how the lobby will look in October. What a great evening and we are all excited to see the finished work taking its place in Queen Elizabeth’s Grand Lobby, and here is an artist’s impression of how the lobby will look in October.
That’s it for another Blog as The World Awaits Queen Elizabeth, and I understand there are lots of announcements coming up revealing more details of our new Queen and I assure you that as soon as I know anything it’ll be posted on this Blog.
I’ll be back on Monday with more news from the TOGs voyage on Queen Victoria as the team welcome Sir Terry Wogan on board. There’s also more news coming up from Queen Elizabeth in Italy as well news of what’s happening on Queen Mary 2; in the meantime thank you again for logging on. Cheers Alastair.