East London has been graced by an unusual exhibition, an 8.7m-long model of the infamous ship Titanic, currently on display at Hemingways Mall until January 25. It is the largest model of its kind in the country.
The brains behind the masterpiece is Free State-born Gino Hart who, after losing his job in 2013, started building this labour of love. This is his 19th model, named the Tintanic.
“The response has been wonderful, it’s triggered so much enthusiasm and interest. There are so many kids that come up to the boat and don’t want to leave,” Hart said.
The ship was built in sections, starting with the bow, which took three months. In total, the model ship was built over a period of three years.
“Now that she’s looking pretty on the outside, it’s time to get started with the inside. There are 4,000 rooms with doors and windows which need to be furnished and it will have more details over the next five years,” he said.
Twenty large aluminum sheets, 55,000 rivets, 20,000 deck planks and 160m² of wood were used to make the model.
“I have no experience in engineering so I had no idea how this would work. All you see with this model is my imagination coming to life,” he said.
The ship already has some lights installed, figurines made of resin, with clothes made of toilet paper. Expect to see Titanic architect Thomas Andrews and sea captain Edward Smith figurines onboard.
“There’s a South African link to the ship because there were nine SA nationals onboard including Edith Brown with her parents, Thomas and Elizabeth, as they were moving to the US,” he said.
The tour started in Heidelberg in Gauteng and has moved to small towns within the province. The tour, now on its coastal leg, will be sure to grace other towns with its unique attraction.
“I used my skills in sales and marketing to get sponsors for material and also to start touring the country,” Hart said.
Tom van der Merwe, one of the exhibition attendees, described the model as “amazing”.
“To build all of this is unheard of, there are so many rivets! I just couldn’t believe it and just had to come see it for myself,” Van der Merwe said.
You can follow the Tintanic’s journey on https://tintanicmodelship.weebly.com/