Trent Hiles


“Compared to my first flag work this is much more personally relevant. Not only does it have an immediate aesthetic appeal with its vibrant primary colours, wind-swept appearance and sheer height but the text itself acknowledges not only the community’s loss, but also the resolve of those who remain. Being painted in the nautical flag alphabet the link to the port town is obvious. It is also a nod to my great great grandfather, Captain William Scotland, who sailed the Rangitiki into Lyttelton from England for the first time in 1876, with 361 settlers on board.”

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The Fifth Ship


The Fifth Ship was installed in 2013 as part of Christchurch City Council’s Transitional Project on Lyttelton’s new civic square site, on the corner of London and Canterbury Streets.

Consisting of four 5 metre-high sculpted timber panels, each one has been painted with nautical flags translating text written as a response to the earthquake on 22 February 2011 that devastated much of the township, irreparably damaged the iconic Harbour Light and Time Ball buildings, and saw the loss of life of two Lyttelton residents.

The artwork follows on from an earlier nautical flag work installed in July 2011 on the Harbour Light site, as part of National Poetry Day.

Given the complexity of translating the work without any knowledge of the nautical flag alphabet a postcard was created to go with the installation. It gives the viewer, should they want to know what the text says, a helping hand in ‘reading’ the work. A copy can be found below.

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time falls stalls freezes

harbour lights falter fade

dust settles hopeless flee

new pilgrims see opportunity