The Figurehead Archives
Built up during a period of over 40 years the full Figurehead Archive can be divided into two quite distinctive areas of research, the first and perhaps most important are the photographic representations of Ships Figureheads, both on and off the vessels, plus a number of other Maritime Woodcarvings, such as Stern Board Carvings, and Cats Heads, this is built up from historic Black and White prints taken from the early 1900’s until the late 1950’s, to more contemporary prints in colour, and now digital images.
The Archive also has an extensive collection of colour slides from both private and public collections around the world, many show Figureheads that have been lost due to war, fire, neglect, or are no longer on public display or form part of private collections.
In many ways it has been possible to study the life of individual carvings over a long period of time, looking at both historic black and white photos and more contemporary prints showing before and after restoration or damage, at the moment the photographic collection stands at around 45,000 images, including slides, photographs and digital images, with new items added almost daily.
The second part of the Figurehead Archive is a library of over 800 books and publications on the subject of Ships Figureheads, Maritime, Woodcarvings, Maritime Antiques including a large number of magazines, newspaper articles and cuttings from the 1850’s to the present day from all around the world. As with the photographic collection the bibliography material is being constantly added to building a collection and archive of international importance.
Innovation in Figurehead Representation
From the creative mind of Barry McKay
When I first began my research into ships Figurehead over 40 years ago, it’s safe to say that the World was indeed a different place; letters came in the post from all over the world, if I was looking for information and details on a particular figurehead in say South America or Australia, contact could and would take months, in the case of some museums literally years, but in it came and with all these letters came 100’s of black and white or the occasional colour photographs , building up as it has to what I can safely called the Worlds largest private archive of Figurehead images.
In recent year the burst of technology has been incredible, the advent of e-mail and digital photography has enabled Museums and collections in the most out of the way location to write instantly and at the same time send over images without cost and very little effort, this has created an all new area of research and archival material, images are now stored in memory sticks in vast numbers, allowing for instant access, we can only wonder at what the future will bring.
Read more: Innovation in Figurehead Representation
NEW TALL SHIPS CALENDAR FOR 2014
This year the work of Andy Peters is also featured in this new A3 format calendar showcasing stunning images by photographer Richard Sibley, March 2014 shows Andy working on the replication of the Naval Figurehead of HMS CHESAPEAKE for the Sheerness Dockyard collection originally carved in 1855 this impressive figurehead has been recreated with the help of surviving fragments of the original, and detailed research, throughout the calendar Richard offers accompanying extracts from classics of maritime literature, rigging plans and detail images, that add up to a rich and thought provoking celebration of the days of sail. As the year progresses evocative images of majestic Tall ships fill the pages, from the impressive AMERICO VESPUCCI launched in 1931, to the 1927 Norwegian sailing ship SORLADET, and the Russia MIR meaning peace.
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Fortuna - A Figurehead Triptych
Dutch artist Maaike Vonk has chosen the “Hunter Figurehead archives” to showcase the resale of her inspirational figurehead triptych artwork “FORTUNA” originally created in 1987 for the restaurant of the De Beer hotel in Europort near Rotterdam. Painted in oils on canvas as three separate works of art that can be display looking inwards towards the front view of the Figurehead, or outwards, depending on how you care to position the three parts, using day and night symbolically, showing Ursa major, and Ursa minor in the top background of the dark sky, Maaike has deliberately kept the style of this piece naïve, reflecting the charm and fascination figureheads have held for generations of sailors and landlubbers alike, figureheads hold a special place in the Worlds rich maritime heritage, with an enduring mystery and allure that transcends time and space, “FORTUNA” is the embodiment of countless thousands of Figureheads that traversed the Worlds great oceans, holding witness to a lost art and tradition. When Maaike began this project she looked at all the surviving Ships Figureheads, in both private and public collections throughout her native Holland, she was even offered a rare opportunity to visit the reserve collection of carvings hidden away in the attic of the National Scheepvaartsmuseum in Amsterdam, but still couldn’t find a female figurehead that matched the idea already in her head, to solve this problem she crafted a three dimensional clay model, and used this as a reference point for the finished painting together with a number of preliminary sketches.
Read more: Fortuna - A Figurehead Triptych
Two unique replica Figureheads carved by
The well respected Charles Moore
Finding an authentic Ships Figurehead in today’s Antiques market is becoming extremely difficult, and if you do find one in an antique shop or auction the prices can be prohibitive, modern day fibreglass replicas lack the appeal and weight of real wood, over 50 years ago Charles Moore gave up a well established clock making business in Clerkenwell London and moved lock stock and barrel to the beautiful Cornish coastal village of St Just-in-Roseland, finding a set of old woodcarvers chisels, and with a love or the sea and all things nautical, Charles began to carve small copies of original Figureheads that could still be found in the local harbours and villages around the coast, the local Isles of Scilly and the magnificent collection on Tresco served as inspiration in those early days.
Read more: FOR SALE