The Paper Boat Song

© George Wyllie Estate. Image credit: The George Wyllie Estate

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George Wyllie’s 'Paper Boat' was built in 1989 it sailed through Glasgow, London, Antwerp, Dumfries and the East coast of Scotland. It made the front page of the Wall Street Journal as it berthed at the World Financial Centre in New York in 1990. Measuring an impressive 78 feet in length, the 'Paper Boat' had a steel frame clad in sheets of plastic and gauze, velcroed together, which opened to reveal a viewing platform, from which rose a question mark. The launch from Glasgow’s Finnieston crane replicated that of a real ship, with a blessing by the industrial chaplain, Rev. Norman Orr, and a naming ceremony by author, Naomi Richardson. Accompanied by a choir from Greenock, Wyllie performed a wee tune, a paddle-steamer song 'We’re going to build a big paper boat…Fold it up carefully, so it can float. But not what a ship used to be.'

The George Wyllie Archive



The Paper Boat Song




mixed media on paper


H 56 x W 76 cm

Accession number


Work type

Mixed media & collage


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The George Wyllie Archive

Edinburgh, Edinburgh Scotland

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