"Capturing a frigate" isn't such a tall order; well at least when it's an image on paper. Peter's art has captured the graceful lines of warships and liners but he also appreciates some less glamourous vessels.


Frigate HMS Plymouth


The frigate in question here is HMS Plymouth, a Type 12 scything her way at speed through the monochrome waters of this pastel sketch.


From the tranquil reflections in a harbour to the full force of an ocean storm, water itself, the lifeblood of shipping, is an interesting subject for an artist. Add to this the vast diversity of vessels created over the centuries and there is an inexhaustable supply of fresh maritime subjects. Most ships seem to have a grace and majesty, along with their own unique character. In this fictional tropical scene, the Union Castle Line's attractively rebuilt liner Reina Del Mar is passing just off the coast.


Liner Reina Del Mar



Peter is a particular fan of the slightly weathered, hard-working coasters, which ply their trade around the small ports of the UK. Their sometimes rusty hulls and those "salt stained smoke stacks" are great levellers: making them as worthy a subject for a painting as any grand ocean liner.



Coaster Burhou 1 loading at Lochaline


In the above scene on a misty Scottish autumn day, the Great Glen Shipping Co.'s coaster M.V. Burhou 1 is loading timber from the Morvern forestry at Lochaline in the Sound of Mull. The old quay was used by the nearby silica mine and is close to the entrance to the loch and Ardtornish Castle, former residence for the Lord of the Isles.



Coaster up river


Not all such vessels are able to ply their trade in remote and rural settings. These are after all, the ships that keep the props of industry turning. A more common location to see one of these little ships alongside is at an industrial wharf, warehouse, or quarry loading-dock. For all that, such scenes can sometimes have all the stillness or rustic charm of a mill painting from the 19th Century. Peter's small Line & Wash painting of the Irish coaster Arklow View at an up-river location in hazy sunlight is a fine example.

The fictitious scene of a coaster loading china clay at a South West England port (based on Charlestown, Cornwall) is typical of industrial shipping in more picturesque landscapes.


Charlestown coaster 









Frigate HMS Virago




Peter made a rare foray into the world of 1950s warships recently. Not usually his era of interest but one type proved particularly appealing. HMS Virago, seen above at speed had already distinguished herself in a wartime career as a destroyer. In the early 50s, members of the class were converted to the Type 15 frigate design to counter ever faster submarines. The conversion was extensive and quite ground-breaking: frigates had until then been controlled from open bridges(!) ...now deemed obsolete by fears of nuclear radiation, to say nothing of cold operations in the arctic and North Atlantic. Warships from this era were rarely sleek but the Type 15, with its full width superstructure and low profile, full width, curving bridge, was an exception. Though some were later also given a rather ugly raised flying-bridge for training purposes and others had "port-hole" windows to replace some of the full-size ones, Virago in the form shown here, combined stylishness with remarkable speeds up to 31knots, using steam turbine power. In later years, the need for speed was reduced when helicopters took over the role of submarine hunting, but at this critical period, the Type 15 used its rakish lines and spectacular performance alone to counter the threat. In Peter's painting, HMS Virago is cutting through a cold sea, demonstrating that she was a force to be reckoned with.





Steam Dredger Seiont 2 




North Wales, where Peter Dennis is based, has a long and impressive history of seafaring.






This is another humble working ship, the steam-powered dredger Seiont 2, which once kept the waters around Caernarfon harbour clear for traffic. Her steam-powered crane and propulsion, along with an open bridge, were outmoded features even at the time of her construction. Seiont 2 lingered on in retirement into the 1990s as something of an historic novelty and was lovingly tended by a group of enthusiasts in an effort to preserve her. Alas, several setbacks and high costs rendered their efforts ultimately unsuccessful and the vessel was scrapped, with only a few fittings being saved for preservation.




 Brig in Tremadoc Bay



Many small brigs and schooners were built on the west coast of Wales in the 19th century. They were often away for months on voyages to places as far as Newfoundland, the Caribbean, South America, or the Baltic ports.




"Hope departing", Llandulas



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