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Bluebird artwork among students’ collection on show at shopping centre

Wendy Hodgson with her image of Bluebird now on display at the Beacon Centre, North Shields.
Wendy Hodgson with her image of Bluebird now on display at the Beacon Centre, North Shields.

A new artwork of Donald Campbell’s famous Bluebird speedboat has gone on display.

Tyne Metropolitan College student Wendy Hodgson’s painting captures the feel of the vessel travelling at speed.

And the work has been praised by Bill Smith, the North East engineer who salvaged the craft from Coniston lake in the Lake District.

It is one of 16 paintings by students taking a full-time Foundation Degree in Applied Fine Art Practice, or the part-time HNC, at TyneMet that have gone on display for the next year at North Shields’ Beacon Centre.

Others include a depiction of a roller-skater twisting in the air, a woman performing yoga, and a pack of dogs chasing a hare.

Wendy, 51, from North Shields, said: “I’ve always had a fascination with history and so when the theme of movement came along, I was already aware of Bill’s role in the salvage and reconstruction.

“He was enthusiastic about it as a way of letting the younger generation know about Bluebird and about engineering.

“I’m really pleased that Bill was at the launch to see it although beforehand I was a little worried about what he’d think of the shade of blue I used.”

North Shields-born Bill, who now lives in Northumberland, led the 2001 salvage of Bluebird from the bottom of Coniston and now heads its restoration project.

It crashed on January 4, 1967, while travelling at around 300mph, killing Campbell, 45, instantly.

He said: “The theme of the exhibition is movement and Wendy’s painting captures that very well.

“Only two colours have been identified as being on Bluebird, and they were painted on in 1954 and 1967.

“Between those dates different paints were used, all sorts of colours went on, and so what Wendy has may well be right.

“Her image shows a nice clear day – with it being the Lakes, what may be missing is the rain and the fog.

“The image of speed is well portrayed, and that’s what Donald was all about.”

Course leader Dr John O’Rourke said it was the third time in five years that TyneMet students had displayed their work to the public in the main Northumberland Square area at the Beacon Centre.

He added: “All the works are very impressive and reveal a range of vivid ideas that have been very well brought to life.”

Centre Manager David Menzies said it was important the Beacon Centre supported the students.

He added: “The Beacon Centre takes pride in being able to provide young artists with a platform to display their work, as well as display their talent and skills to the community of North Shields.”