To The Water
Through paintings, photographs and museum objects our new exhibition at Beverley Art Gallery explores our experiences of waterways and the sea.
The artworks show how water has provided inspiration for artists in our collections and the variety of approaches used to capture watery views.
Photographs from East Riding Museums and East Riding Archives celebrate the pleasures to be found in days at the beach and walks along riverbanks, reminders of how important water is to our leisure and wellbeing.
Some of the photographs are captioned East Riding Photos, you can purchase these and hundreds more at https://picturearchives.org/eastridingphotos
Experiencing the thrill of a pleasure boat ride has been central to seaside daytrips since the early days of coastal resorts.
Bridlington was the hub for pleasure boat rides in our area. The diesel-powered Boys' Own and paddle steamer Frenchman were two of the boats which plied their trade in the bustling harbour. The Yorkshire Belle is perhaps the most well-known of the pleasure boats and is still sailing today.
Nautical thrills could also be found on a smaller scale: most seaside resorts and large municipal parks offered boat hire or a place to sail model boats.
Having a Paddle
Even if the weather is inclement or the water cold and murky, children love a paddle.
In the early 1900s a number of significant floods hit towns in the East Riding. Flooding ruined homes and businesses but provided fun for local children (and their pets!), as seen in these photographs.
In Beverley, families flocked in the summer months to swim and paddle near a bridge over Barmston Drain. Those fun-filled days at Brickie Bridge are recorded in two wonderful snapshots which were shared with Beverley Guildhall's digitisation project.
Walking by Water
Fresh breezes, sturdy paths underfoot and the soothing properties of water all add to the appeal of waterside walks.
In our area, the lakes at Hull's municipal parks and the mill stream at Welton were popular strolling locations. The banks of the River Humber at Hessle were well-used for bracing riverside walks, even when the area was still active with industry.
The cliff top walk at Bridlington is one of the most loved walks in our area. The Cliff Top Cafe offered a welcome break for tea and ice-cream on the route to Sewerby Hall.
A Change of Scene
In the days when holidays were limited to a week each year and travelling overseas unheard of, a trip to the seaside or municipal park was a special event.
Whether it was watching beach entertainers, taking a ride on a charabanc or simply feeding the ducks, a day out by water was a welcome treat.
Daytrippers thronged in their thousands to watch regattas and aquatic competitions at Hornsea, Goole and Beverley Beck. At Bridlington, the swimming feats of "Professor" Albert Gautier always delighted the crowds.
Water features strongly in the favourite painting locations of artists in our collection.
Hull artist James Neal is known for his studies of the city's docks and drainage channels. Neal was also inspired by East Riding waterways, including the canals at Pocklington, Leven and Driffield.
Beverley artist Fred Elwell enjoyed painting lakes and rivers on continental holidays with his wife Mary but also found inspiration in waterways closer to home. Scarborough, where the couple honeymooned, was a favourite subject as was the River Hull where Fred sailed in his houseboat Calathumpian.
In Bridlington, local barrister Bernard Hale spent many hours at the waterfront, capturing its hustle and bustle in his watercolours and sketchbook. The pencil annotations on some of his studies provide a fascinating record of activity at the water's edge.
A Splash of Colour
The vivid colours of continental waters have provided inspiration for artists in our collection.
The Greek temple at Taormina in Sicily, popular with the aristocracy on their Grand Tours, is the perfect subject for William Logsdail to use a palette of blues and complementary ochres.
William Lionel Wyllie's painting of the Mediterranean Sea is all about ultramarine. The water, sky and Greek island of Ithaca almost merge, with just the bobbing fishing boats providing detail and contrast.
But continental Europe wasn't the only place to provide inspiration from colour. From the late 1800s, helped by the coming of the railways, British artists were attracted to Cornwall with its bright light and blue seas. One artist in our collection, Samuel John Lamorna Birch, was so inspired by the county that he adopted the name of a Cornish cove!
Painting for a Living
One artist in our collection literally went to the water for his art.
Reuben Chappell (1870 - 1940) is the best-known and most prolific of the Pierhead Painters, a term used to describe artists who painted ships for a living.
Chappell worked from a studio on Jackson Street in Goole and took commissions at the docks from shipbuilders, masters and owners. In his lifetime he is thought to have painted around 12,000 works!
In 1904 Chappell moved with his wife and children to Par in Cornwall. Unlike the artists who moved south-west for the light, Chappell was attracted by the air: the move away from smoky Goole was an attempt to improve his bronchitis.
Alive by the Water
Waterways are often hives of human activity, providing inspiration for artists to capture a fleeting moment in time.
The illustrative style of Evelyn Saner's Picnic on the Sands is reminiscent of 1930s advertising, with every aspect of a day at the beach document and included.
From the late 1800s onwards the lives of coastal communities became popular subjects for painters, in part due to the influence of artist colonies, such as those at Staithes and Newlyn. In Mending Nets Pre-Raphaelite artist Agnes Bouvier approaches the subject in a consciously decorative style. Lionel Percy Smythe's Shrimpers takes a more realistic approach in an attempt to capture the harsh physical labour of fishing.