Canal Folk Art
Canal Arts, 'Roses and Castles' decoration, narrowboat & barge signwriting and painters; by Tony Lewery.
The folk arts of the English canals are unusual because they were apparently born without clear historical ancestors, the origins of part of this traditional culture still remain a mystery.
The folk arts associated with the 'narrow boats' of the midland canals presumably cannot predate the boats themselves, and those boats were not in existence before the middle of the eighteenth century when the narrow canals were built. That is quite recent in art history terms. The first written and pictorial references to bright colours and painted roses and castles on canal boats do not occur until even later, in the mid nineteenth century. This was, therefore, an extraordinary flowering of a new folk art at a time when many other old trades and traditional ways of life were withering away.