Wood to Water NMMC


James Dodds @ National Maritime Museum Cornwall


Catalogue to accompany James’ “Wood to Water” exhibition at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, October 2019 to September 2020.

Foreword by Richard Doughty, Museum Director:

It is a great pleasure to welcome James Dodds back to the National Maritime Museum Cornwall. This is our second collaboration – when the Museum opened its doors to the public in 2002, James was the very first artist to exhibit his work here and it was our very first temporary exhibition.

This is a natural venue in which to display James’s work. His subject is small boats and we have by far the largest collection of boats in the UK. Among the 152 boats in our stewardship, is Curlew, one of the few remaining Falmouth Quay Punts, and we are particularly thrilled that James has chosen to include her amongst this new body of work, as well as a Falmouth pilot cutter, the largest painting James has ever undertaken.
In his introduction to The Harbours of England, the art critic John Ruskin, the bicentennial of whose birth is being celebrated this year, confessed that there was just one thing that he still regarded with ‘unmitigated amazement’, the one object he could never pass without the renewed wonder of childhood:

The blunt head of a common, bluff, undecked sea-boat, lying aside in its furrow of beach sand. The sum of Navigation is in that. You may magnify it or decorate as you will: you do not add to the wonder of it. Lengthen it into a hatchet-like edge of iron,— strengthen it with complex tracery of ribs of oak,—carve it and gild it till a column of light moves beneath it on the sea,—you have made no more of it than it was at first. That rude simplicity of bent plank, that can breast its way through the death that is in the deep sea, has in it the soul of shipping. Beyond this, we may have more work, more men, more money; we cannot have more miracle.

This is what James’s art captures: the workmanship and unpretentious beauty of the traditional British wooden boat: no museum could be more delighted to host this exhibition than us.


Introduction by Esther Freud

Text by Luke Powell and Tony Pawlyn



Jardine Press Ltd 2019
62 pages
210mm x 265mm
ISBN 978-0-9934779-6-6