Artist seeks help – she needs rusty ships in dried-out-looking seas

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Ship in the dried out Aral Sea, photographed by Staeker, and
taken from the Wikimedia

We’ve just received this intriguing and unusual request from art student Mary Wharmby. Can anyone out there help her? I’m pretty sure that boat users who visit remote spots are most likely to be able to help.

‘Hi Gavin,

I’ve just found your blog and am really hoping you or one of your readers can help me out. I’m a grad student at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. I’m working on my MFA thesis, an interactive ecological mystery game inspired by the Aral Sea crisis in Central Asia. The project is about looming water shortages with the prototype about the plight of fishermen when they lose their fisheries. I am trying to digitally recreate a desert seabed with medium-to-large old rusty ships that players will navigate around and eventually board. I need to photograph from multiple angles and am having trouble finding appropriate ships. I found your site by searching google for ship graveyards and turned up the post about the Staten Island site (which could possibly work for me). I am looking for a place or places where I can find ships like these:

The ships don’t have to match exactly by any means, just be in the same ballpark (old, rusty, medium-sized). A huge amount of touchup can be done digitally, but I need something to start with.

Because of costs, ideally I am looking for a place on the West Coast but if necessary I am willing to travel where ever I need to go. Please let me know if you know of a ship or location which may work me.

Many for reading this and for any help you can offer!

Mary W’

I’m sure she means the West Coast of the USA and I’m sure too that she will obtain permission from the photographers who supply the images and credit them properly.

So – if you know any ships that appear to be lost on land anywhere, can you help Mary?

Cinque Ports watercolours by Jack Merriot

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The Cinque Port of Hythe


The Cinque Port of Sandwich

We have some jolly railwayiana this morning. High-class award-winning amateur boatbuilder, unassuming Sage of the Little Green Shed and man with strong railway connections, Chris Perkins has put a series of five scans of a series of prints commissioned for the railways of Cinque Ports by the artist Jack Merriot on his website StrathkanChris’s Little World.

He suggested should link to them, knowing full well that I can’t resist a nice old-fashioned artworks like these. See the full set, as well as some immaculate boats built to Iain Oughtred plans and the first build of the new Michael Storer Raid boat at Chris’s website.

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American maritime artist John P Benson celebrated in a new book

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Paintings by John P Benson – click on each for a larger photo.
The images that were here earlier are now linked to thumbnails below

John Prentis Benson – American Marine Artist, which comes out early in the New Year, will be the first sizeable book about an important artist who has only recently become recognised or even collectable.

The lack of interest in John P Benson is perhaps surprising, as he was the brother of the renowned American Impressionist, Frank Benson.

Overshadowed in his youth by his highly talented brother, John P Benson practised as an architect for many years before finally becoming a full-time working artist in his 50s.

Once established in his studio at Kittery, Maine, however, he was prolific and painted over 750 works between 1925 and his death in 1947.

Of these, only about 300 are known, which leaves 450 or so either in private hands and yet to be located, or destroyed. Many of Benson’s paintings are still to be found, and possible owners should know that they sell for up to $50,000 when they appear at auction.

Experts say that despite the family connection, Benson’s style was only moderately Impressionistic, and that his work also incorporated elements of Realism and Romanticism.

Benson was born in 1865 in Salem, Massachusetts and grew up a few streets away from the town’s seaport, which is said to have fascinated the young artist. Later in life he painted mainly contemporary and historical ships and boats, and seascapes, and his boats and ships are noted for their detail and accuracy, and his work is said to have influenced  current marine artists such as Geoff Hunt, who illustrated the covers of Patrick O’Brian’s well known novels.

I’d like to thank Bob Holtzman for sending me this story – many readers will know him as the editor of the weblog Indigenous Boats, but he’s also a freelance PR consultant, writer and editor. He’s clearly a diligent operator who understands his media, for he has clearly recognised that is very fond of a good painting!

For more on the artist and book, visit