An iconic Titanic mural painted in 2003 had become shabby looking due to weathering. Located at the corner of Newtownards Road and Dee Street in Belfast, the mural had become a destination for bus and taxi tours. Painted in black and white, the mural honors the ship and the workers who built it. John Stewart, who was the artist who created the mural, was able to raise £3,000 ($4,595 USD) to help complete the restoration that took six weeks.
“I’m delighted with how it looks now and I can’t wait to start my next project.”
(John Stewart to Belfast Telegraph)
Back in 1987, the Titanic Historical Society commissioned Rollins Outdoor Advertising to create a mural for its 75th anniversary. The mural, a 10-by-15-foot mural of Titanic’s grand staircase, was long believed to be the work of Gilbert Perry Jr. However a recent examination of two signatures on the mural revealed the name James Wahwassuck. And according to The News Journal, it turns out that Wahwassuck was the actual painter who did it from Perry’s sketches. The revelation came about during a fundraising celebration where the Titanic mural had been loaned by Titanic Historical Society. Event coordinator Rick Pulling noticed the two signatures when he unrolled the mural. Pulling tracked down Wahwassuck and contacted him. Wahwassuck had also learned from recent news story that Perry had been considered the artist. While normally most commercial artists do not sign their names, he urged Perry to sign both their names near the bottom where it will not be easily seen. Wahwassuck did not see the mural after it was done. The Titanic Historical Society had no idea about the true history of the mural.
Changes in technology! When I was kid, to speak live to someone very far away meant a special phone connection. There was no visual connection at all. So when 20 first graders at Notre Dame Academy in Duluth, Georgia recently decided to discuss Titanic, they used Skype to have a discussion with Titanic experts at the Marine Museum in Fall River, Massachusetts. They fielded many interesting questions about Titanic and even some about Titanic II. From the news account, it looks like it was a lot of fun. Back in the day we had to hope one day such things like a Dick Tracy watch (a small television screen) or a Star Trek like communicator. Today we have flip phones that take pictures, make telephone calls, receive email, and view movies on. Just keep the tribbles away from the grain.
Long ago a serious row divided the Titanic community over salvage. It divided scholars,survivors, and many enthused amateurs. The result was a very nasty flame war conducted by hostile postings to Usenet and and Internet discussion lists. Threats, accusations, and demonization of those on other side of the argument were common. It resulted in ruined friendships, bitter recriminations, and some real world bad actors doing bad things. It has mostly faded now but when The Telegraph reported of a major row involving Titanic that included threats of violations and all kinds of malicious accusations, it brought back memories from long ago.
This issue is not about salvage but between two online groups: Olympic Class Liners (OCL) and Lovers of Ocean Liners(LOTOL). According to Telegraph, Jonathan Smith of OCL started watermarking his collection of Titanic photographs and postcards when he posts them online. He did this to prevent them from being used without his permission. This sparked an outcry from those in LOTOL. They claimed he did not own the photos and accused him of plagiarism regarding his research. From that point on, it began to heat up on Titanic websites and other sites that discussed ocean liners. It soon reached full boil with threats of breaking legs and accusations of child molestation. British police are investigating after a complaint was lodged with them.
My experience with the last Titanic flame war is that there are no winners. Once you go down this road of recriminations and demonization, nothing good comes of it. And there are those who thrive on these type of things. They love to say the most audacious of things not caring a bit whether true or not. In truth, they do not care. They just want to keep the pot boiling. Cooler heads must prevail here. Otherwise it will end up with everyone losing in the end.