When she was 17 years old living in Kentucky, Tate Leigh couldn’t have imagined her 2007 Kia Spectra would ultimately become a wooden, recycled pirate ship filled with “Easter eggs” that point to a time traveling storyline.
“I guess that’s just my path,” Leigh said.
Once the A/C went out on the aging vehicle mid-pandemic – amongst other issues – it was either scrap metal or an art installation.
“I called up a friend and asked him if he wanted to build an art car,” Leigh said. “Obviously we didn’t have a lot going on at the time.”
She moved to St. Petersburg four years ago from Kentucky, and after a lifetime of creating art from the scrap yard on her childhood home’s property, Leigh’s learned how to wield tools.
“On the hobby farm I grew up on there wasn’t a lot to do, so I was always building clubhouses and things,” Leigh said.
With help from Ian Tuma, Leigh’s friend and owner of art production company Lost Creations, the pirate ship came alive with a skeleton of spare wood from alleyways, fence postings and deck scraps.
Time-traveling clues, like a time log filled diary from the captain and a hidden treasure chest, add character amongst practicalities like a hangout “deck” in the trunk. The project is constantly being recreated, and Leigh is in the process of adding a boat cleat.
Out to Sea
On Friday, July 10, the junker-turned-ship made its first art show debut at Coastal Creative’s female-curated and created exhibit, We Are Feminine at the two-day popup gallery on 2201 1st Ave. S.
How did the vehicle get to Coastal? Slowly.
“It does drive, and sometimes we just coast down the street because it brings people joy,” Leigh said. “At the show, a lot of people looked at it, but were uncomfortable touching it or getting into it – but that’s what it’s there for.”
Aside from showing at some local music events, the pirate ship is only recently attending shows and festivals.
“The main goal right now is getting the word out that it exists,” Leigh said. “I made it for people to enjoy.”
Leigh’s main gig is working as a tattoo artist in a private space at Above Alpha Tattooing on 5702 Gulfport Blvd. S., but she plans to keep creating.
See more of the wooden creation and Leigh’s work at Instagram.com/tate_tattoos.