After sinking in the North Atlantic Ocean over a century ago, the Titanic is one of the most mysterious and prolific tragedies of the 20th century. Until now, experienced explorers risk their lives to catch a glimpse of the sunken marvel; a testament to the fact that Titanic is more famous now than it ever was when it was first built with the ironic title of the unsinkable and largest ship in the world. After travelling to 21 cities in 6 provinces in South Africa, over 10 million people across the country have seen and experienced Gino Hart’s iconic re-creation of the Titanic. The exhibition is currently on at Lonehill Shopping Centre, before heading out for its tour of the United Kingdom.
The “Tintanic,” as Hart calls it, is a marvel on its own. After building and sinking 18 trial ships, Hart hand-crafted the Tintanic over a period of three years and his 19th model of Titanic cost over one million rands. The incredible model has been on exhibition since its creation, along with hand-made artifacts from the ship, original newspaper clippings with pictures of the passengers, the original printed article listing the survivors, and almost every detail that is known about the infamous ocean liner. The model itself is incredibly life-like, complete with perfectly placed railings, windowpanes and windows, sterns, benches, a wooden deck, figurines, and even the grand staircase where Rose waited for Jack is present on the inside. One may marvel at how Hart had the capability to handcraft the magnificent model. The artist alludes to a deep connection to the ship and its mysterious story, with a vision of what it may have been like on the Titanic and built it from “memory”. Incidentally, South African passengers travelled on the Titanic, and have a long history with the ship, as Captain Smith, who sailed the Titanic on her maiden voyage, fought in the Boer Wars, and brought British sailors to the port of Cape Town and travelled to the port of Durban. Robert Hichens, who was at the helm of the ship when it struck the iceberg, had a brother who lived in Johannesburg.
When Hart was 15 years old, he read the 1959 book entitled “A Night to Remember,” by Walter Lord; a factual retelling of the night the Titanic sank. It’s here that his obsession began, and after the blockbuster by James Cameron was released, Hart began his process of bringing the Titanic back to life. In 2015, the Titanic Society of South Africa, founded in 1985 by Derek Walker and Bryan Potgieter, held an exhibition in Rosebank with original artifacts from the real Titanic. Hart ensured that he attended, worked with the exhibition, and purchased the right to the original artifacts. When he decided to build his final model, the sponsor of his mega-project was Vinolia – the beauty brand, that was the original sponsor of the Titanic when it was built in 1912.
In 1912, when Titanic first set out of Belfast, it sailed to France to pick up passengers, and then to Ireland, before heading out. Now, Hart’s project is travelling to Belfast for a tour of the United Kingdom in 2024 and 2025. In the quest of telling the real story, this incredible artist shares that creating the Tintanic was an immense amount of hard work, but he believed in himself, manifested his dreams into reality, and trusted the process – even when he had no idea where it would lead him. “If you are not doing what you love, drop it! And start focusing on what you do love.” Says Hart, “Everything happens in its own time.” Take advantage of Tintanic’s final year in South Africa before she leaves for the United Kingdom.
The exhibition is on at Lonehill Shopping Centre, with a personal tour by the artist. Tickets are available online at Quicket.
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