Laid up liners, Freeport, Bahamas (ex RMS TRANSVAAL CASTLE and SS ROTTERDAM in 2001) photo © Martin Cox
Peter Knego: You have an exhibition of photographs opening at the Los Angeles Maritime Museum in San Pedro. Can you tell me about it?
Martin Cox: Museum Director Marifrances Trivelli invited me to make a proposal for a solo exhibition of my maritime photography for the gallery in the museum in San Pedro. I decided to focus on the period between about 2000 and 2005 when so many mid-century ships were dropping off the fleet lists and heading for lay up. The exhibition opens in June with a group of about 24 black and white prints, some of which are very large. As you know, new SOLAS laws were looming with fire safety standards becoming ever more strict, thus dooming much of the word’s older passenger fleet.
Stranded liners on the beach, Alang, India. Photo © Martin Cox 2012
Peter: Tell us about why you chose STRANDED as the title of your show?
Martin: These ships, as you know, are eventually literally stranded on the beach when they are sent for demolition, but also they were stranded by changes in technology and the economy. In a quickly evolving world, this notion becomes a familiar metaphor — plus, the word strand recalls the flat area of land bordering a body of water.
Emerald deck, GRIPSHOLM in lay up. Photo © Martin Cox 2012
Peter: How much did growing up in a port contribute to your choice of subject matter?
Martin: A great deal! As you know, I grew up in Southampton and many of the ships I had seen as a child and young adult were heading off to be scrapped in the last decade. Seeing these vessels in their working liner heyday, I had no idea that I was witnessing the end of an era. The activities at the port and the shapes of those riveted hulls intrigued me, inspiring me to draw, and much later, shoot pictures, collect postcards and brochures about the liners. I am always thinking about ships and the floating world — it made a life long impression on me.
Peter: Which photo trips were the most memorable?
Martin: I think I’d have to say traveling with you to the beach at Alang, India. I will never forget that first sight, after crossing farmland, of those giant stranded beasts in the mud, so quiet and still in their final weeks before being cut down. The scale of the mud banks at low tide and the flatness of the coastal area stood in such contrast to the lines of huge ships waiting for the end — it felt mythical.
Peter: Is there a catalog with the exhibition?
Martin: Yes, the catalog is already published and available online at:
A photography catalog of the exhibition “STRANDED: the twilight of the ocean liner”, first exhibited at the Los Angeles Maritime Museum in 2012. See all 25 black and white photographs by Martin Cox, of the end of an era of ocean liners, ships nearing or at the end of their careers shot in the US, Bahamas, India and The Philippines.
Peter: When does your exhibition open and for how long?
Martin: Stranded runs from June 17 through – September 30, 2012. MaritimeMatters readers are invited to the opening reception on Saturday afternoon, June 16th, from 2:00 – 4:00 pm
Los Angeles Maritime Museum – Berth 84 • Foot of 6th Street • San Pedro, CA 90731 Phone: 310-548-7618
Please note: If you are using navigation technology, use this address: 600 Sampson Way, San Pedro CA 90731
The Los Angeles Maritime Museum is open Tuesday through Sundays, 10:00 am — 5:00 pm.
Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea. With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications. Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India. He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
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