The Shipwright's Trade
by Rudyard Kipling

2-colour linocuts by James Dodds

"This poem is the second part of 'The Truthful Song', first published in 1910 in the children's book 'Rewards & Fairies'. The poem brings back feelings of my own youth spent in and around a labyrinth of lean-to boat-sheds, barges, blocks and spars, learning a trade that has changed little since the building of the Ark.

Themes associated with these memories have filtered through my work for many years. This collection of eight images spans a five year period, beginning life as individual paintings and later becoming wood and linocuts. The book provides an opportunity for the images to create their own narrative.

David and I worked together for the last two years of my apprenticeship at Walter Cook and Son. Before this he had been to art school and then had a spell of teaching. He then had a change of course and returned to his early love of boats. He now runs his own yard where I have since worked when needs must. It was David who taught me to appreciate the shape of a well made 'Lemon' boat or a well wrought hook. I will always be grateful for his encouragement and guidance in those early years."

James Dodds Shipwright M.A. (RCA)


"Jamie, as yet, I trust, does not identify with Noah but the nostalgia engendered by Kipling's poem has given him the opportunity to present this selection of linocuts which all relate to a period in his past.

Kipling drew his inspiration from the workaday aspect of ships and the sea, but remained a detached observer. The pictorial artist, who has earned a living from an occupation that now provides subject matter, has the advantage of technical understanding and is perhaps able to avoid a romantic image.

Jamie served his time in the shipwright's trade at a yard where Noah would have felt entirely at home. The business was established in Maldon for wooden barge building in 1894 (the year Kipling wrote his notable maritime poem 'The Mary Gloster') and continues to the present day with the re-building and re-rigging of sailing barges.

Apprentices learnt how to use the adze and other hand tools as old as the Ark. They had to suffer being watched by old men, some knowledgeable who are the most infuriating, but mostly by those who would just comment, 'you don't see this sort of work anymore'.

Jamie, even after all these years, is probably happier with the label 'ex-shipwright' than 'artist', but he knows, and this is what may produce the nostalgia, that there is no going back."

D. J. Patient B.A. Shipwright Maldon, Essex 1990

1st ed: Jardine Press 1990. ISBN: 0 9509270 4 X
2nd ed: Mystic Seaport 2001. ISBN 0 939510 72 3
3rd ed: Jardine Press Ltd 2002. ISBN: 0 9509270 4 X
200 x 200mm, 32pp.
Hardback: £9.95.

(out of print)