Marine art, figureheads of note



A ship often has an elaborate figure, usually carved from wood - normally a maiden - attached to the bows or prow of the vessel to bring good luck to the ship and its voyages, act as an inspiration to the crew and send a message to the world: this is what we stand for..  


The famous ship: 'cutty sark', was a tea clipper ship that derived its name from the dress that the figurehead is wearing - hence, the ship was inspired by a woman - or as we suspect, the curves of a woman. The face on this carving is unusually aggressive, inspired by one of Britain's greatest female warriors, representative of a Scottish witch.




  Cutty Sark's figurehead




Figure head of the Cutty Sark in situ and in various stages of restoration in the workshops of Arthur Levison.






Arthur Levison carving in rough and adding fine detail in situ.





Arthur was best known for the restoration of the famous clipper ship ‘Cutty Sark’ which the National Maritime Museum commissioned in 1956, when the ship was being preserved in dry dock at Greenwich. 


The figurehead representing a Scottish witch was carved from a 9 foot block of Canadian timber which arrived at the docks in 1957 in the Cunard ship ‘Invernia’. The timber in specially processed blocks of laminated white pine from the Blind River district of Ontario was a joint gift from the Canadian Lumbermen’s association, Canadian Forest Productions and the Department of Trade and Commerce. 


The original figurehead of this famous clipper was lost and the existing replacement had been affected by time and weather. Arthur Levison appeared on television when he began the figurehead carving at the first National Boat Show at Olympia and was also a participant in the well known TV parlour game, ‘What’s my Line?’ The sculpture was completed in his workshop in Wagon Yard, a place that was well known to his many model yachtsmen friends and wood craftsmen. Arthur was presented to the Queen at the ceremony of the opening of the ship’s dry dock at Greenwich.


Also a musician of considerable talent, Arthur learnt to play the violin at an early age and was in the orchestra for many of the Farnham Operatic Society productions. He idolised Mozart and had a keen appreciation of all his works, particularly his operas. He was also a keen Bowls player too, and held his County badge, of which he was very proud.


Arthur was born on 16th November 1892, in Gloucester and first practiced his craft as wood carver with his father Arthur Levison Senior, who was employed on the restoration of Gloucester Cathedral and who also specialized in the carving of figureheads for sailing ships

Arthur Senior came from Sunderland where he and his brother produced carved figureheads at Gloucester, and at one time they had a shop on the North Dock at Swansea. When figurehead commissions became scarce he went into the architectural carving business, still accepting figurehead business until he died in 1922, aged 76. He was one of the last of the genuine figurehead carvers. The last big figurehead he did was for one of the Loch line of ships the ‘Loch Trool’. When the ship was in collision in the channel, the figurehead was taken to Falmouth for repair.

Vintage Model Yacht Group Arthur Levison





Design sketches for the 'Solar Lady' - wings of an Angel and tail of a Mermaid


Angel of the South





A local artist is helping create a figure-head for Solar Navigator to reflect both the traditional and modern aspects of the project's stated aims.  Christina will be modeling many features of the face. We are looking for a model with outstanding, mature, athletic proportions to pose (clothed) for the final dimensions.


We accept private and corporate art commissions and may be contacted via this website by simply emailing our webmasters.





The Vacuum Chamber  is designed for deairing (eliminating air bubbles) in appropriate pot life resins and silicones.






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The Solar Navigator - SWASSH (Small Waterplane Area Stabilized Single Hull) test model 2012

The latest Solarnavigator is a robot ship designed to be capable of an autonomous world navigation set for an attempt in 2015 if all goes according to schedule. The platform is also ideal for persistent monitoring 365 days year 24/7 - with data streamed back to your command HQ via satellite.




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