The Cervia

  • Filipe Gomes

For decades the Cervia steam tug has been a permanent and prominent feature of Ramsgate Harbour, captivating visitors with her rich history and unique mechanical features. As a working vessel, Cervia has sailed the world and has risen to fame for being the very last commercially operated steam tug. Since her decommission the vessel has remained at Ramsgate Harbour in an un-seaworthy condition, despite the incredible efforts of her restoration volunteers. In 2011, Filipe decided to embark on a journey that would bring the Cervia back to life sonically. For over a year, Filipe travelled the world and worked with past crew members to gain a detailed understanding of what the vessel sounded like when she was functioning. What Filipe discovered was just how reliant on sound the crew was; they depended on rhythm of the engine, the flow of steam, the sonic codes of the horns and whistles. The whole boat and its’ components are a complex variety of sonic experiences. Like the engine itself, Filipe’s installation is a finely tuned and synchronised sound work, meaning that each sound and it’s origin has a cause and effect. For example, if the boiler burns hotter, all the components attached to it expand sonically; from the engine cycles increasing to the sea running under the Hull rising in velocity. You can literally hear the bubbles under your feet and the wind through the windows above.