Friday, 14 March 2014



Red Shackle,oil on linen, 60x45cms (c) artist, courtesy of Messum's Gallery
A shackle.The first definition offered by the paperback Oxford English Dictionary of this Old English word is chilling: 'a pair of rings connected by a chain, used to fasten a prisoner' s wrists or ankles together'. A definition further down the page describes what's  here: 'a metal link closed by a bolt. used to secure a chain or rope to something'.

 In my experience shackles on boats are heavy and noisy and utterly, utterly trustworthy. They have to be. The definition says 'secure' and security is what you get. But imagine what this particular one looks like pressing against the edges of a 60x45cms painting. It's huge. It's in a colour which signals danger. It is both clunky and graceful, reliable and threatening. 

Winklebrig I. oil on linen. 90x150cm (c)artist, courtesy of Messum's Gallery

 'Floating between ancient and modern, a Dobbs boat forms a metaphor for the region's most masterly creative journey'.   
So wrote Ian Collins in the catalogue of the East Coast Influences  exhibition currently at Messum's Gallery

WinklebergI on the left  suddenly becomes three dimensional when we see the benign limpid water holding it still as if in the palm of its hand.

Falmouth Workboat oil on linen, 99x120cm (c)artist, courtesty of Messum's Gallery
Falmouth Workboat Looking Forward is also tranquil, an  interlaced pattern of horizontal lines holding in tension the gentle bow-shaped belly of the boat. The excitement is being able to look right through the boat. We are both cramped and confined in  a small space, while at the same time set free to travel through the aperture into whatever exists in the flat grey world outside.The boat is work-in-progress. which is both magical and tantalising.

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