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James Dodds – Shaped by the Sea

Venue: The Corn Hall
James Dodds has been described as ‘boatbuilding’s artist laureate’. Born in Essex in 1957, he was apprenticed as a shipwright in Maldon for four years. ‘With the first boat I worked on, it felt I was building it on the canvas. The two sides of me, the builder and the artist; one focussed on art and colour, the other on practicalities.’ The desire to become an artist won and took him to Colchester School of Art and then to London to Chelsea School of Art and the Royal College. 
His studio in Wivenhoe is sited on the spot where great ships were once built and sailed from the river Colne around the world and he celebrates ‘the coastal variations of the simple workboat’ in oil, linocut and his own book publications under his Jardine Press imprint. 
Our exhibition will have a special emphasis on East Coast boats, with a group of oils, including a mammoth 12-foot triptych of a Yarmouth Lugger, and a selection of his distinctive linocuts. These will contain ‘panoramas’ of coastal towns, such as Southwold and Aldeburgh, and historic working boats, each with its own story, such at the 1864 oyster dredger ‘Pioneer’, rescued from the mud where she had lain for 50 years and lovingly restored. We will also show some of the paintings from James’ solo exhibition at the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall from earlier this year. 
His biography, ‘Tide Lines’, published by Jardine Press, was written by art historian Ian Collins (writer Esther Freud commented that ‘it’s so beautiful to look at you may think you don’t need to read the text’) and a second volume ‘The Blue Boat’ by Collins will be published in November. 
He has been awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Essex in recognition of his artistic contribution to the community. 
James will join us in the gallery on Saturday 23rd October at 11.30 am to talk informally about the exhibition and his career.