Ways To Make A Ship Walk by James Capper


MUDSKIPPER will take up residency at Battersea Power Station, before travelling down the River Thames to The Royal Victoria Dock in the spring of 2020.

Demonstration Dates & Locations to be announced

Co-Commissioned by
Battersea Power Station, Nine Elms on the South Bank and The Royal Docks (the Battersea Power Station Powerhouse Commission)

Supported by
Arts Council England, Rothschild Foundation, Hannah Barry Gallery, Albion Barn and Perkins Engines with additional support from the Science Museum Group.

Produced by
Illuminate Productions

MUDSKIPPER is a fully-mobile sculpture able to move across water and land through the use of two hydraulic step-type propulsion legs with component TREADPAD feet.

MUDSKIPPER is currently being fabricated at South Dock Marina, London, and will be completed in Spring 2020. The original vessel was made in 1980 as a South Coast commercial fishing boat, and in the late 1990s was taken out of the fishing industry and sold with no fishing licensing to a maritime engineering contractor based on the Medway and Thames. The boat was modified into a workboat for commercial operations on the Thames and inland waterways, as a general workboat, moving passengers out to work barges/platforms, shunting barges, survey operations and diving activities.

Transformed now as MUDSKIPPER, the sculpture has gained an extra 2.9 tons of weight with the addition of its hydraulic power pack, bilge keel skis, hydraulic steel legs and component TREADPAD feet. In water, the sculpture will be powered using its regular engine and rudder, however, once it shores land and engages its hydraulic components, the sculpture will rise an extra 600mm as its feet propel it forward onto the new terrain. The hydraulic system will allow the sculpture to slowly march out of the water and inshore, moving not far above its keel and bilge skis to its on-shore destination.

James has been planning The Walking Ship in numerous drawings since 2010. Most recently works added to this extensive project were the series of drawings Ten Ways to Make a Ship Walk published in 2016. The original idea was formed out of the surreal notion of the action of a ship or boat climbing out of the water very slowly, in a similar way to a crocodile sliding down a muddy African riverbank in the Sir David Attenborough film, Planet Earth. Its shape-shifting form of displacement and physicality, in combination with a slightly awkward method of locomotion gives the sculpture great potential as a new character on the River Thames and beyond.


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I was so delighted to hear about your upcoming project, ‘Ways to Make a Ship Walk’, by James Capper. James is a hugely innovative and exciting artist and we are very happy to endorse the project.
— Kirsten Dunne, Senior Strategy Officer, Culture and the Creative Industries, Mayor of London


James Capper

James Capper is a British artist and draughtsman whose work adopts the techniques, materials and complex problem-solving processes of innovation and engineering to develop the possibilities of sculpture. His sculptural language evolves along different modular chains termed ‘Divisions’. Each work can be understood as a prototype and therefore each sculpture produces questions that the next work attempts to answer, so that over time each Division produces its own clear iconography and application in action. The Walking Ship is part of the Offshore Division.

Capper studied at Chelsea College of Art and the Royal College of Art in London.

Solo shows include: RIPPER TEETH IN ACTION at Modern Art Oxford (2011), DIVISIONS at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (2013), SIX STEP at Rio dell’Orso with ALMA ZEVI for the Venice Biennale (2015), PROTOTYPES at CGP London (2016), SCULPTURE & HYDRAULICS at The Edge Institute of Contemporary. Interdisciplinary Arts, University of Bath (2017) and JAMES CAPPER at Bathurst Art Gallery, New South Wales, Australia (2017).

He was the youngest ever artist to be awarded the prestigious Jack Goldhill Prize for Sculpture from the Royal Academy of Arts, London. Sculpture projects in 2018 include: AEROCAB with 3-D Foundation in Verbier, Switzerland and Blue Frame with Forth Arts in Sydney, Australia.


To register interest in Mudskipper, please email