Friday, 9 December 2011

A Small World

Winter Refit - James Dodds
Linocuts bring back memories of home made Christmas cards and  fingers cut, as I carved out the robins and holly on a lino tile in an effort to make a reasonable print on coloured sugar paper. Now The Curate and I are delighted to own this superb print by James Dodds, who comes from the area where The Curate and I grew up and met. All the paintings, prints and craft in our house reflect some point in our life together and  help to make our house a home.  

Two summers ago, The Curate and I wanted some art work that reminded us of the River Blackwater in Essex (in the south east England)- where we originally met. We searched the art galleries in Maldon and we could not agree on any one piece - until I spotted a few frames turned against the wall. They were waiting to be hung  and I asked if I could look at them. Immediately we recognised the location in 'Winter Refit' as being a very familiar old haunt on the River Blackwater.  There is was - the picture chose us!

On researching the artist, it appears that James Dodds served his time in the shipwright's trade in a yard where they refitted and rebuilt the huge wooden sailing barges that were familiar to the River Blackwater. Then I remembered my mother had given us a copy of 'The Shipwright's Trade' by Rudyard Kipling and illustrated with wood and linocuts by James Dodds. I looked at it again and discovered that the foreword is written by The Curate's old form teacher.

The Curate's Study
This large linocut hangs in The Curate's study now  - a long way from the location depicted in the print. Since becoming a curate, The Curate has met some delightful people who have migrated to this part of the world, from the East coast. The Curate used to visit a lady in our last parish, who grew up in the same area and it turned out that she went to the same school as The Curate. She left in 1947 - before The Curate was born. They spent afternoons together, talking about life in Essex. 

Last Sunday, I accompanied The Curate to two churches in our rural parishes. As I sat in the pew in the second church, a lady joined me and we started to talk. It turned out that she too, had grown up in the same village as The Curate and she had gone to the same school. This time, the lady had left in the mid 50s - a little before The Curate was born. 

One teacher was a common link for both these ladies and The Curate.  One particular teacher had begun his career when the lady from the North Coast went to Maldon Grammar and he retired while The Curate was still at school. These unexpected coincidences are a gift to us, as they have helped both The Curate and myself get to know new people in new places and those people get to know us.


  1. A lovely post, reminding us of the network of coincidence which s often links us together. I just love the print - really gorgeous.

  2. Coincidental coincidences are the fabric of life. Lino cuts ... that brings back memories of my childhood as well.

  3. Wonderful post. It is connections like this that make life so much easier... x