THERE’S a chap to be seen wandering around a number of corridors in Southampton’s SeaCity Museum that frankly I’m quite concerned about.

Visitors to the attraction can see the poor guy drifting rather aimlessly along somewhat stark gangways, a vacant, bored expression on his face, trapped in what appears to be an endless cycle of monotony.

Then again, I’m more worried about the poor souls who have paid up to £8.50 to watch his ambling.

The ‘lone male,’ as he is referred to is, as you might have surmised by now, the subject of a video art installation at the museum, part of the newly-opened Ship to Shore: Art and the Lure of the Sea exhibition.

I’ve visited it twice, the second time to reassure myself how dreadful it truly is.

Described as an exhibition which “explores the physical and the physiological, time and distance, the poetic and the brutal” it has opened simultaneously at SeaCity and the John Hansard Gallery at the University of Southampton Campus in Highfield.

Boasting works by a ruck of ‘well known’ contemporary artists, including Tracey Emin, Catherine Yass, Isaac Julien, Zenib Sedira, Yinka Shonibare MBE, and Tacita Dean, at SeaCity it fills The Pavilion, a space created for visiting and temporary exhibitions when the £15m museum was opened to great fanfare last year.

Now, if I were a betting man, I would hazard a wager that few of you reading this recognise any of the names just mentioned, with the obvious exception of Ms Emin, she of the unmade My Bed.

Which doesn’t matter. But then again, in this case I would contend it does.

To be direct, Ship to Shore is precisely not what the Pavilion, indeed the whole SeaCity Museum, was created for.

When the good people of Southampton were sold the idea of raising £15m to pay for a creative space tacked onto the side of the Civic Centre, it was on the grounds this would be a major attraction, appealing to both visitors and locals alike.

The cost, made up of a £5m National Lottery grant, £5m from fundraising and the final £5m from council coffers, would be worth it to close down the old Titanic Museum housed in the Wool House at Town Quay as well as God’s House Tower with its archaeological exhibits.

The SeaCity Museum would be a populist, wow-factor attraction that would bring in the tourist bucks and make the city residents proud. And when it opened it lived up to the hype. The permanent exhibitions that show Southampton’s Titanic Story and the city’s role as Gateway to the World were, and remain, world-class. The first Pavilion temporary exhibition also focused on Titanic and how its legend has been portrayed down the decades.

Here was a museum created in a populist, human fashion that everyone, not just those of a particular artistic bent, could enjoy.

Hoorah! £15m of public money well spent. All those in charge had to do was keep creating similar, populist temporary exhibitions to attract back locals and reach out to visitors, and what could go wrong?

Which is why Ship to Shore is not just disappointing, it is terribly annoying. An eclectic, some might say, awkward jumble of contemporary items, loosely gathered under the banner of ‘something to do with the sea,’ it is a flotsam and jetsam of a mess. Tracey Emin’s contribution is a short sentence in neon script, Yinka Shonibare gives us a (very) scaled-down version of his Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle that featured on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in 2010, Tacita Dean produces her photograph of Donald Crowhurst’s beached boat Teignmouth Electron.

However, only a display of historic cruise holiday posters, an edition of Cunard’s Ocean Times, and James Tissot’s haunting oil on canvas The Captain’s Daughter, created in 1873 and already in the Southampton Gallery collection, appeared to hold the attention of the visitors I observed in the exhibition for anything more than a few moments.

As for my poor, wandering soul, he is the subject of a 20-minute film by Zineb Sidera entitled Middle Sea that plays on a loop to giant scale on the exhibition back wall. The accompanying description states: “lone male as he rambles around the deserted corridors of a ship crossing between Marseille and Algiers.” That’s all you need to know really.

But I understand, this is art. And some of it I appreciated. Isaac Julien’s film The Leopard, showing at the John Hansard, is gorgeous and should have been shown at SeaCity. And I appreciate that my opinion does not count regarding what works as art and what does not. But that is not the point here.

This exhibition belongs in the City Art Gallery next door.

The SeaCity Museum is too young to be subjected to this work of limited appeal. It should be used to create pure theatre, telling the story of Southampton’s links to the ocean, told in populist form and not reliant on videos of a lighthouse off Eastbourne filmed upside down (I kid you not).

But go, do go yourself and make your own minds up. Entry fee is £8.50 for the whole SeaCity Museum, £3.50 for just the Ship to Shore exhibition. Entry to the John Hansard Gallery is free.

While you’re there, see if you can cheer up that chap walking the corridors.

He seems so terribly bored.