A little bit of Rabbie Burns, in Plymouth ferry port

22nd January 2020
  • Alexander Goudie's Tam O'Shanter painting - photo taken by Angus Mawby

A ferry port in the South of England is not the first place one might expect to come across Robert (Rabbie) Burns. However, the entrance to the UK headquarters of Brittany Ferries in Plymouth Port is host to a huge painting based on a famous poem by the Scottish Bard.

Tam O’Shanter is the story of one man’s dice with death, late one night, en route home from market day. It’s a story upon which Scottish artist, Alexander Goudie, based a collection of paintings. One of these hangs in the entrance to offices, on the floor above the passenger terminal.

But the painting leaves members of staff and visitors scratching their heads. What on earth has a bawdy 18th century bar scene got to do with a cross channel ferry operator?

The reality is that the Tam O’Shanter painting is just one of around 1,300 original works in a comprehensive art collection owned by Brittany Ferries. More than 300 of these originate from Goudie.

One of the company’s ferries called Bretagne – which sails between Portsmouth and St Malo – is a floating art gallery entirely dedicated to Alexander Goudie’s work in print, oil and ceramic. It’s been described as a floating love letter to Brittany, a region loved by the artist, where he lived and worked.

Ahead of Burns Night on 25 January, Brittany Ferries has finally revealed the story behind this enigmatic painting. And so the 150 Brittany staff, including reservations staff, marketing, accounts and customer relations personnel, will be clear on how this bawdy bar scene fits into the art of ferry travel.

Everyone should be in the picture – now that we have shone a light on it.

Until the office lights go out of course.

“And in an instant all was dark.”


Contact: Nigel Wonnacott, head of comms Brittany Ferries 07833 44 67 29 or [email protected]

If you need higher res versions of this picture, please download from here: https://brittanyferries.ftpstream.com/?lid=gpkw6oea#