Creating Ships

It seemed only natural that in later years, as giant cranes further up the river bank constantly swung and beckoned,

I should enter the shipyard and partake in the great thrill of creating ships.

 It was an enthralling experience to join an army of men all sharing their brains and brawn in a common cause.

Anyone who has witnessed the extraordinary care and love with which a hull is created, combining strict utility and economy with aesthetic beauty, could never knowingly betray it.

The expres-· sion on the face of a senior designer as he sweeps in a waterline along the edge of a ship curve, stands back, eyes it, and then completes the run, is something to behold.

It may be an everyday job of work, but one can see a sublime satisfaction revealing itself,

and one itches to do the same oneself.

This emphasis on the physical character of ships has remained with me always, and my hackles rise when it is blithely ignored in a painting.

One can pick up hooks in which there are reproductions of famous sailing vessels, any one of which,

although a pleasing artistic rendering in itself, bears little resemblance to the vessel named apart from the correct number of masts and sails.

Their various titles could well be transposed without causing confusion.

It was during my early years in a shipyard that I first began to take a serious and critical interest in marine paintings.

 An exhibition was staged in Liverpool of Jack Spurling’s original paintings prepared. for the covers of the Blue Peter magazine.

Their fresh coloring and overall size gave them quite a different feeling from

the repeated reproductions one sees today where many predominating colors have become exaggerated.

My knowledge of the technical aspects of these paintings was insufficient at the time to detract from an overall pleasure in these spirited

and original compositions, a pleasure I still retain.

Another artist whose works were available for viewing in the Liverpool area was Thomas Somerscales,

who to me is still the marine artist “par excellence.”

 His seascape studies in which the sea, the sky and the ship all had balanced emphasis, were a delight.

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