James Somers likes to say that he doesn’t buy RMS Titanic memorabilia, he makes it.
The Lower Sackville commercial artist creates doll-sized reproductions of the wooden foldable deck chairs from the ill-fated ship.
“It’s a paying hobby,” Somers said Sunday at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, where the 107th anniversary of the sinking of the “unsinkable” ocean liner was being commemorated by the Titanic Society of Atlantic Canada.
The British passenger ship sank in the North Atlantic Ocean after colliding with an iceberg about 600 kilometres south of Newfoundland, during its maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City. More than 1,500 passengers and crew members died, while the tragedy — fuelled by a steady supply of books and movies — has lived on.
The society has formally marked the anniversary of the sinking since 2014. This year’s function focused on connections to the Atlantic Provinces, such as the three Halifax cemeteries that include final resting places of Titanic victims.
“It’s one of the things that we certainly look forward to each year,” said Deanna Ryan-Meister, president of the society, during an interview in the Small Craft Gallery of the Halifax museum.
“It’s our opportunity as a society to engage with the public with regards to the history of Titanic ... What’s more connected than Halifax, really?”
She said commemorations were held last week around the world.
“There have been events going on since Thursday, actually. There are conventions. There are dinners. There are candlelight vigils.”
Regional society members showed off collections of memorabilia and books, and there was an opportunity to see presentations Sunday by several enthusiasts.
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Tom Lynskey, a 27-year-old producer of video games and documentaries from Bucks County, Pa., caught the bug as a youngster.
“I’ve always been interested in the Titanic,” Lynskey said.
“I guess my first memory of it was probably when I was three or four and my dad used to build plastic models, and he had one of the Titanic that was all smashed and we tried to put it back together.
“I suppose that was my first introduction to the ship. I saw A Night to Remember, the 1958 film, and the movie Titanic from 1997 came out. It just kind of grew from there.”
Lynskey collaborates with like-minded colleagues on a range of endeavours, including real-time recreations of what happened during the two hours and 40 minutes that it took for Titanic to slip below the surface.
“The biggest video game project I’m working on right now is a Titanic experience,” he said.
“It’s virtual reality. We’re building the entire ship, inside and out. We’re trying to be as photo-realistic as possible with the ship and as authentic as possible.”
Somers also uses technology to pursue his passion. He makes even tinier versions of the deck chairs using a resin 3-D printer, and has put together more functional things like Titanic bookends.
“Back when I was in college, in the late ’70s, early ’80s, I had a friend who was into it. He lent me the book A Night to Remember, and I’ve been there ever since.”