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Ocean liners: Scotland's history of building luxury ships

New exhibition set to open at the V&A in London will come to Dundee later this year.

Ocean liners: V&A Dundee director Philip Long inspects Stanley Spencer painting.
Ocean liners: V&A Dundee director Philip Long inspects Stanley Spencer painting. V&A Museum

Taking off from the runway on the banks of the River Tay, a much heralded museum gradually shrinks into the horizon.

But V&A Dundee's significance to a city going through a radical renaissance cannot be underestimated.

Many of the towering chimney stacks of the once thriving jute trade still rise out of the city's skyline.

However, a new creative industry, among others, is emerging and is expected to transform Dundee - a city once on its knees after the collapse of its traditional industries.

The curving walls of Japanese architect Kengo Kuma's "living room" for the city is inspired by the rugged cliffs of the north east of Scotland.

V&A Dundee: Museum is due to open later this year.
V&A Dundee: Museum is due to open later this year.

Although very different but equally grand and imposing is the V&A in London.

I arrive at the Victorian building to see the exhibition that will sail into the Dundee museum when it opens in September.

From concept to construction, creating the world's only V&A museum outside London has been ten years in the making.

Jutting out into the silvery Tay, many have likened the V&A building in Dundee to a ship, so it is somewhat fitting that the first exhibition to grace this majestic building is Ocean Liners: Speed and Style.

It opens at V&A in London on Saturday and explores Scotland's place at the heart of engineering some of the world's most luxurious liners.

Propellers: Vintage maritime photo of the Titanic in dry dock.
Propellers: Vintage maritime photo of the Titanic in dry dock. Getty Images
Luxury ships: Normandie in New York.
Luxury ships: Normandie in New York. Collection French Lines

The Queen Mary and the QE2 - to name just two - were launched in the Clyde.

The clunking and clanging of the shipyards at Clydebank is depicted in Stanley Spencer's painting 'The Riveters' which shows the highly skilled workforce who constructed these 'floating palaces'.

It was commissioned by the British Government to record industries involved in World War Two.

The Steerage: Famous 1907 photograph by Alfred Stieglitz.
The Steerage: Famous 1907 photograph by Alfred Stieglitz. Victoria and Albert Museum, London

It's among more than 250 objects spanning ship architecture, interiors, fashion and lifestyle including paintings, sculptures, models, furniture, paintings and posters that will all go on display.

Many of the items have never been seen before in Europe.

Among the highlights, are a panel fragment from Titanic's first class lounge and a previous Cartier tiara recovered from the sinking Lusitania in 1915.

The exhibition will sail into the £80m V&A Dundee for its opening on September 15 this year, marking a new dawn for Dundee.

Empress of Britain: Colour lithograph poster for Canadian Pacific Railways.
Empress of Britain: Colour lithograph poster for Canadian Pacific Railways. Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Fashion: Silk georgette and glass beaded ‘Salambo’ dress worn in 1920s.
Fashion: Silk georgette and glass beaded ‘Salambo’ dress worn in 1920s. Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Marlene Dietrich: Wearing a Christian Dior day suit on-board the Queen Elizabeth arriving in New York in 1950.
Marlene Dietrich: Wearing a Christian Dior day suit on-board the Queen Elizabeth arriving in New York in 1950. Getty Images
Bathing suit: Two-piece retailed by Finnigans in London, 1937-39.
Bathing suit: Two-piece retailed by Finnigans in London, 1937-39. Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Wood panel: Fragment preserved from first-class lounge of the Titanic.
Wood panel: Fragment preserved from first-class lounge of the Titanic. Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Tiara: Diamond and pearl item recovered from the Lusitania.
Tiara: Diamond and pearl item recovered from the Lusitania. Cartier

Ocean Liners: Speed and Style, supported by Baillie Gifford and players of the People's Postcode Lottery, will show at V&A Dundee from September 15, 2018 - February 24, 2019.

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