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A new installation featuring colourful works of art is ready to be explored until 8 March, as part of the D-Day Story’s celebration of LGBTQ+ History Month and International Women’s Day.

Whatever Floats Your Boat – No Questions Asked is a community-created installation set inside the former fuel compartment of historic Landing Craft Tank (LCT) 7074 in Southsea. A flotilla of mini crafts has been co-created by artist Jan Frith with the 4U youth group and the Community Champions group run by Stop Domestic Abuse in partnership with the British Red Cross.

Four people stand in front of a landing craft holding models
D-Day Story museum and visitor service officers Lorna Street and Max Butcher; artist Jan Frith; general manager Ross Fairbrother.

Drawing a parallel with the bravery and camaraderie of D-Day, the museum became a safe welcoming setting for culturally diverse and young LGBTQ+ people in Portsmouth. Working with artist Jan, both groups explored the extreme challenges faced at D-Day. By learning more about D-Day the participants were able to share their own experiences and challenges of discrimination and abuse. No questions were asked, and no judgements were made as those attending gave the flotilla of LCT models striking visual makeovers.

Jan Frith, the artist leading the project, said:

“LCT 7074 is an inspiring and unique piece of history. It is impossible not to be moved by the physical experience of it whilst pondering the hidden stories of fear, hardship and survival, many of which we cannot know. I am delighted to have had the chance to use the LCT’s past as a counterpoint to engage with contemporary experiences and happier times. We all have a back-story and things that are difficult to tell. Sharing together in the kind community of others is a good way to find strength as we all strive to make our own individual course and purpose in life. What would float your boat?”

Cllr Chris Attwell, Cabinet Member for Communities and Central Services at Portsmouth City Council, said:

“Portsmouth City Council is committed to providing a welcoming environment for all. The bravery of people who made the landings which led to the liberation of Europe paved the way for the freedoms we all enjoy today. It’s well worth a visit and I am proud that this city museum is openly marking LGBTQ+ History Month and International Women’s Day with this installation.”

Cllr Claire Udy, LGBT Champion at Portsmouth City Council, said:

“Each and every one of us deserves to be heard and included within the vibrant community of Portsmouth.  I am delighted to see that this project has shown such commitment to making lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and those who have suffered domestic abuse, feel truly welcome and free to express themselves as being proud to be part of our city.”

Landing Craft Tank 7074 has many extraordinary stories to tell. The restoration of the ship to its original D-Day appearance was made possible thanks to Lottery players with funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. During the Second World War the ship carried up to 10 tanks across the Channel, but it is easy to overlook its lesser heard stories. After the Second World War the ship became a lively 1960’s nightclub – ‘Clubship Landfall’ – with people partying to the sound of the Beatles on the River Mersey.

Freja Evans Swogger, whose father George Evans was owner of the Landfall nightclub, said:

“People had a great time on the LCT during the swinging 60s, and it continued as a nightclub well into the 70s even after my father sold it. After that it had a reputation for being a slightly dodgy place which to me is disrespectful and reflects very judgemental attitudes. I am delighted that the LCT has been salvaged and restored to its former D-Day appearance, but it was also a significant part of Liverpool’s post-war history as a place of fun, of the liberation of society and celebration of people’s increasing freedoms. My family are proud that this part of its journey is being remembered today.”

The Whatever Floats Your Boat – No Questions Asked installation can be seen at the D-Day Story in Portsmouth until Tuesday 8 March 2022. Entry to the installation is included as part of the ticket to museum. Tickets can be booked in advance at www.theddaystory.com or bought on the day.