Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Traditional Canal Ware

There is a strong tradition of painted canalware, which is an art-form all to itself. It stems from the type of decoration used on the brightly painted canal narrow boats in the 19th century.

Although different painters (and regions) have slightly different styles, there are some traditional elements. They are known as 'roses & castles', although the actual designs feature not only roses but also other flowers like daisies and forget-me-nots. The 'castles' often depict versions of genuine landscapes. Elements suggesting the cargo carried - ears of corn, for example - may also feature. Both the flowers and landscapes are highly stylised, painted with a minimum of bold brush-strokes to achieve the desired effect.

Not only was the exterior of the traditional narrow boat painted, but inside the cabin where the boatman and family lived, every available surface including many of the utensils was decorated. A multitude of brass fittings, 'lace' plates with pierced edges, crocheted throws and fancy curtain edgings adorned the cabin, making the cramped living space cosy and colourful.

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