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Boat Shop Art

February 10, 2022 in Uncategorized


The workshop of a boat builder becomes a very personal space after a few years. It takes on the personality of the guys working in the shop. It reminds me that I think I’ve seen only one woman working in a boat building shop over the years. Enough years pass by and the artwork and decorations accumulate. There used to be the pin-ups, the boat show posters, period advertisements and boating articles or cover photos can show up as well. In some shops, patterns, plans and lines of famous boats or boats that have been built by the shop get posted, stuck on tool boxes, put up in the washroom or hung from a ceiling.

After a few decades, little details become works of art. Before it closed and all the machinery was cleared out, Dukes was corner-to-corner filled with art from through the ages. Sawdust-covered tools, ancient logos, stamps in the iron of the tools were just a few of the artistic relics to be discovered. Some of my favourite subjects to photograph are the tools and bits and pieces of the boat shop. The curved bits of cut offs are also sculptures in themselves. When all the clamps are lined up, planes hung in sequence, chisels and drills placed in their slots, they make a statement of a legacy of woodworking. The planer and the great big band saw, covered in sawdust, are more than the tools of the trade. They are instruments of art.

By Tim Du Vernet

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