Canal Heritage

Canal Art Heritage

How did a new folk art arise at a time when the Industrial Revolution was killing off traditional crafts? What on earth was so special about it?

Roses and Castles is the popular name for the traditional paintwork of the narrow boats, bunches of roses and medieval castles being common features.

The most powerful impression made by a traditional narrow boat is of lots of carefully contrasted coloured decoration, covering almost everything.

boat painters

Canal Boat Painters

Hand painted signwriting is an important ingredient of canal boat decoration, often treated as another painted pattern to enhance the boat.

The majority of the folk painting of the canals was done by professionals, but by professional boatbuilders not professional painters.

Links to working canal boat painters, signwriters and decorators and links to companies supplying paint and painting supplies for canal boats.

canal art & decoration

Canal Crafts

The decorative ropework tradition of canal boats was a combination of strictly practical demands with the boatman's cultural need for elaboration.

With her cabin crochet work, the boatwoman was able to create with her own hands, beautiful articles to adorn her tiny cabin home. Written by Liz Bryant.

Links to canal artists & canal crafts people, painters and suppliers of traditional canalware.

Caring for canals

Canal Life

The secret heart of all the arts of the narrow boat world was the tiny cabin, a tiny space, but one which shaped the lives of the boat people.

The best way to understanding & enjoy the folk art of the canal is to experience the real thing. But failing that we have some suggestions.

We've a full section, also written by Tony Lewery, devoted to traditional canal boats and river craft.

Canal lino print

Canal Art Works

Tony Lewery's beautifully illustrated and informative Canal Folk Art book, Flowers Afloat, explores the traditions and development of this art.

Eric Gaskell has produced some striking limited edition lino-cuts of scenes around the Canal System.

Brightwork was the term used at boatyards in East Lancashire for the decorative paintwork and is the subject of a new book by Mike Clarke & Sam Yates.

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