Not all things go to plan

Alison Bournes.jpg

A massive gunpowder explosion blew up famed flagship The London on March 7, 1665, killing more than 300 crew and sinking her near Southend-on- Sea. The London had been anchored at the Nore and was preparing to head off to war with the Dutch.

The wreck remains on the seabed three-and- a-half centuries later, close to Southend Pier, and in recent years divers have been bringing up artefacts before they are lost for ever to the sea.

These finds are the inspiration for an exciting project by mixed media artist ALISON BOURNES entitled “Not all things go to plan”. This work will be shown for the first time during the 2018 Leigh Art Trail, which runs from June 9-16.

Alison said: “I’ve been able to handle some of the finds from the wreck, ranging from wax candles, pewter spoons, rope, linstocks for firing cannons, glass bottles and leather shoes worn by the sailors of the ship. It was fascinating and thought-provoking.

“The leather shoes really moved me. There in front of me was evidence of the human loss from this tragic accident, preserved so beautifully for 350 years in the silt of the Thames Estuary.

“I felt I needed to make a response and the shoes were my starting point.”

Alison’s exhibition features 300 pairs of ceramic shoes, individually made and stamped with symbols and words detailing the lives of those lost when the ship went down, as well as the effort that went into retrieving and preserving them.

Alison added: “The exhibition also touches on the fact there are no records of those who died, although the time in which they lived saw England on the cusp of being a maritime world power.

“My work reflects our relationship to the sea, past and present, and the effect it can have on our lives, especially when things don’t go to plan and the unexpected happens.”


Notes to Editors

Alison’s beautiful work will be displayed at Store Thirty3, Elm Road, Leigh-on- Sea, during the Leigh Art Trail. Hi-res images available on request.

The Leigh Art Trail celebrates its 21st year in 2018, showcasing the work of more than 60 artists in local shops, cafes and businesses from June 9-16.

For more information, contact Leigh Art Trail publicity coordinator Joe Scotland at or visit