Lugger, Further Reading

Lugger ‘Barnabas‘ as painted here has to be one of the most curious entries on my website besides which luggers were much favoured by fishermen, smugglers and pirates.

Oldest Cornish Lugger
Lugger Barnabas

Barnabas, lugger, approx 23 X 35 cm (9″ x 14″) watercolour, made approximately 1974.


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The painting:

I drew this picture probably in 1974 from life.

Mike Hope wrote to me as follows: “Your painting of Barnabas would be just after her first restoration, we would very much like to have a look if you come across it“.

I was sitting in sunshine on a bollard on a quay near Penryn, Falmouth, Cornwall …
I’ve always pushed my frontiers.

I drew the picture probably in 1974 certainly from life.

I knew nothing of her history except she was old and said to be from St Ives.

I simply thought she looked interesting and that drawing her might improve my knowledge of drawing ships and boats; so I made it so.

I thought she would make a good ‘drawing exercise’ so settled down to produce this carefully drawn study of Barnabas.

I decided to try and colour the picture and ran straight into the issue of my strange colour vision, some misname, “colour blindness”.

 

Colour blind artist ?

Black is never an easy colour to paint or photograph.

The lugger Barnabas I thought would make a good ‘drawing exercise’ so I settled down to produce this carefully drawn study.

I decided to try and colour the picture and ran straight into the issue of my strange colour vision, some misname, “colour blindness”.

I found applying colour ‘difficult’, I knew no way to accurately colour match, at that time I was blissfully unaware I had a colour issue,

Later I was to gradually learn, mostly under the guidance of the immensely  knowledgeable Francis Pratt at The Painting School of Montmiral [Tarn department, France], how best to exploit my rare gift which Francis discovered is in reality a form of naturally enhanced colour vision.

If you know about ‘colour vision’ or look carefully you can see how I can be classified as ‘colour blind’, struggling to understand the colours.

All I knew at that time was colouring the drawing was ‘difficult’, ‘frustrating’ as I was unable to match colours.

Later I was to gradually learn, mostly under the guidance of the immensely  knowledgeable Francis Pratt at The Painting School of Montmiral [France], how best to exploit my rare gift of enhanced colour vision.

Today, this study of the lugger Barnabas is a charming very early ‘Gordon Frickers’ study, one of the earliest surviving examples of my work and emerging talent.
Luggers where to feature more in my life, in two paintings, quite famously.

The Barnabas:

I don’t know where she is now.

The restored ‘Barnabas’ is  a very rare example of a type of vessel that used to number in the thousands, the Cornish lugger.

 

The Cornish lads I discovered are very proud of the lugger Barnabas.

They gleefully claim that in a fresh breeze, manned by Cornish sailor men she can easily outsail any racing yachts of similar size.

 

A local story goes, in those days [not now], the ‘yotties’ at the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club looked down their noses at old ‘Barnabas‘.

That was until crewed by 12 half ‘lubricated’ Cornishmen during a Falmouth Regatta Week she consistently out sailed in a breeze every yacht of her sizes and a good few bigger ones.

Barnabas was then about 100 years old when I made this study back in the days when it was still very unusual to see an old small craft restored.

As things transpired, it turned out, this St Ives lugger, ‘Barnabas‘ had been recently restored with funds from the Cadbury Trust when I drew and painted this scene way back around 1974

 

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To acquire this or commission a similar painting, a pleasure to own, a sound investment, you can purchase in easy stages.

Luggers :

The lugger is of simple appearance, this is deceptive, luggers are close winded and fast for their size so much favoured of old by smugglers and pirates.

The Cornish lugger is a type of sea going vessel or rather the sailing rig on one.

They were fast, sea worthy, economic, much used by fishermen, smugglers and sometimes by pirates.

In N W Europe the lugger rig, cheap to make, requiring a relatively small crew to man, was used on vessels from 12 to 80 feet length overall.

At the time I created this picture, 1974 ish, Barnebas was a bit over 100 years old having worked much of her life out of Saint Ives and village situated in the far west of Cornwall, now famous for it’s artists and an out station of the Tate Galley  of London.

Little did I know then, very similar types of lugger today appear in my acclaimed painting “HMS Pickle, The Trafalgar Messenger“, one of my ‘Nelson and Trafalgar series‘.

 

 

“Spirit of Mystery” :

Another famous lugger appears in the Pete Goss commission of his famous Cornish Lugger “Spirit of Mystery in the Southern Ocean“.

Of the latter, Pete said he was much influenced by my “Roaring Forties” painted for Robin Knox- Johnston.

Pete Goss wrote to me saying, when got “Spirit of Mystery in the Southern Ocean” I made myself a cup of tea then lost myself in it for half and hour. It has everything except the unforgettable noise of the Southern Ocean. I certainly got the painting I’d hoped for”.

High praise from such a distinguished, experienced sailor; thank you Pete Goss.

Incidentally, “Spirit of Mystery in the Southern Ocean” is available as a superb print on canvas, signed and numbered, standard size £157 inc P & P. from my website.

 

 

A sense of pride was reborn :

The French have a fine lugger type the ‘chasse marie’, usually 30 to 60 feet LOA plus bowsprit and known for the speed.

Big Chasse Marie often have several masts and set tops’ls and t’gallants.

They are spectacular, powerful vessels.

Chasse Marie, the name translates as ‘Sea Hunter’, a name suggesting this is a respected vessel.

I still have this study of the lugger ‘Barnabas’ in an old folder…

 

The Cadbury Trust :

Barnabas was about 100 years old when I made this picture, and at that time it was still very unusual to see an old small craft restored.

Appreciating there was a time when “red sails in the sunset” often meant fleets of hundreds of fishing luggers The Cadbury Trust generously paid to have Barnabas one of the very last St Ives fishing luggers, fully restored.

To acquire this or commission a similar painting, a pleasure to own, a sound investment, you can purchase in easy stages.

Your best value is to buy from a dedicated, reputable, established artist direct from his studio.

 

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