Sunday, 14 April 2013
Here's the "Aldebaran", a wooden-built Danish trawler, tramping along in fresh weather east of Sumburgh Head. She, and hundreds of others like her, used to fish around Shetland in the late 1960s and early-to-mid 1970s. In bad weather, Lerwick harbour used to fill up with these, and other Scandinavian vessels, providing a valuable feed for my almost obsessional interest in these splendid little ships.
At around 65ft in length, the "Aldebaran" was built in 1960, was just a fraction under 50grt, and was powered by an Alpha 240bhp diesel engine. According to the 1977 edition of Denmark's Fiskeri
Årbogen, she was owned by an A Bjerg of Harboøre, on the shoreside of the Nissum Bredning, which is an inlet of the large sprawling expanse of inland waterway which occupies a large part of the north-west Danish mainland. How do I know all that geographical stuff? I just looked it up in my Collins European Road Atlas, of course! I've never been to Denmark, although some of my paintings have. Regrettably they all had return tickets!
Why have I painted a Danish trawler? Well, it could have been a Norwegian whaler or great-liner, or a Swedish "bung-bung", or a larger steam trawler from Germany, Poland or France, or any one of the many types of fishing boat which could have been seen in Lerwick harbour during my formative years. The Danish trawler just appeared out of the mix somehow. I like to indulge in a bit of nostalgia now and then as regards subject-matter, and, judging by my list of commissions over the past few years, I'm far from alone in this. Many people reflect fondly on a time when boats were of a more graceful design, even if the work was back-breaking (the more so when the catches were bigger!).
The fact that this painting is of a Danish trawler is pure chance, then, and it's my entry for this year's OBA competition. I was persuaded to enter again by an old friend, who told me to "do them one of my seascapes, and put my heart and soul into it!" This is a best-can-do then, and I'll see what they make of it. My picture of Lower Voe didn't seem to trouble the judges last year, but the administrator in charge of the entries says she loves my seascape. I bet she says that to all the boys - wish me luck!