Anchors aweigh! Works of art depicting anchors

Anchors aweigh! Works of art depicting anchors

Imagine a boat or ship without an anchor. Berthing it would be difficult. The vessel could sway vigorously. It could even be carried away by strong winds and currents. Yet, notwithstanding their vital function, anchors are not often featured in art.

There are countless works of art that show vessels at anchor. But where’s the anchor? Out of sight, deep down on the sea bed. To correct this bit of artistic injustice, I have gathered the following works of art in which anchors are given the prominence they deserve.

anchor, device, usually of metal, attached to a ship or boat by a cable or chain and lowered to the seabed to hold the vessel in a particular place by means of a fluke or pointed projection that digs into the sea bottom. (Britannica)

Boy with Anchor, 1873
Watercolour and gouache with graphite
Winslow Homer (American, 1836–1910)
Courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art

Anchor and Boats, Rye, 1938
Pencil and watercolour on paper
Eric Ravilious (British, 1903–1942)
Courtesy of WikiArt: Visual Art Encyclopedia

Anchor, c. 1780
Colour woodblock print
Katsukawa Shunsho (Japanese, 1726-1792)
Courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art

Rock and Anchor, c. 1961
Oil on canvas
Morris Atkinson Blackburn (American, 1902–1979)
Courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art
NOTE : This artwork may be under copyright. It is published here under the Fair Use principle.

Ankerligten, preparing the anchor for arrival, no date
Philip Lodewijk Jacob Frederik Sadée (Dutch, 1837–1904)
Courtesy of The Athenaeum

Studie van een zeeman met een anker (Study of a sailor with an anchor), 1868–1928
Pencil and black chalk on paper
Jan Toorop (Dutch-Indonesian, 1858–1928)
Courtesy of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Het anker (The anchor), 1861–1872
Johann Heinrich Maria Hubert Rennefeld (Dutch, 1832–1877), after print by Jozef Israëls (Dutch, 1824–1911)
Courtesy of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Allegory of Hope, c. between 1617 and 1618
Oil on canvas
Alessandro Turchi (Italian, 1578–1649)
Courtesy of the Detroit Institute of Arts

Boat on Beach with Anchor, early 19th century
Etching (soft-ground)
Samuel Prout (British, 1783–1852)
Courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Old Anchor, no date
Watercolour on paper
Dwight W. Tryon (American, 1849–1925)
Courtesy of The Athenaeum

~ Barista Uno

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New UK play spotlights harassment and male prejudice at sea

New UK play spotlights harassment and male prejudice at sea

New UK play spotlights harassment and male prejudice at sea

A review by guest writer Jo Stanley

It’s no fluke that the cast of path-breaking new stage play Corrina, Corrina comprises not only white guys, nor that the theme is asymmetrical power. Headlong’s production is bravely tackling the stuff of theatrical success, even if it is about human lack of success in being fair.

Filipinos are over a quarter of the global maritime work force, and women are 2 per cent of it. Yet few of the plays and films in the global north ever feature seafarers from the Philippines as key characters. So this is a treat, the more so as their parts are so nuanced.

This six-handed play, which has just opened at the Everyman& Playhouse Theatre in Liverpool, the historic UK port, pushes both buttons: race and gender. It runs from 17 May to 4 June.

Few of the plays and films in the global north ever feature seafarers from the Philippines as key characters. So this is a treat, the more so as their parts are so nuanced.

The principal female character — indeed, tellingly, the only woman aboard — is Third Mate Corinna Wilkinson (played by an intense Laura Elsworthy). Corrina is a woman facing two white male colleagues’ wrong-headed behaviour around sexual harassment.

They’re aboard MSC Keto, headed from Felixstowe to Singapore. The principal male character is Angelo (loveable James Bradwell) a deckhand, and his two colleagues, the narky Rafael (Martin Sarreal) and the circumspect Rizal (Angelo Paragoso).

All three are Filipino and they know that the price seafarers pay: ‘Dollar for homesick’. In this patriarchal jail loaded with containers they’re all too aware that shipping industry politics mean they have no power over white authority, and that the female of the species may be an even trickier category.

Always bad luck for a woman to be on board…. No offence’ Rizal greets Corinna. ‘Some taken, I’m not gonna lie’ Corrina looks him directly. That’s how it is. Women working at sea today know that male shipmates can still be silos of centuries of superstition – and that discrimination is subtle as well as overt.

Corrina in a verbal confrontation with one of the Filipino crew members
Photo credit: Helen Murrary

The Filipino crews’ gendered unease is worlds away from the complex misogyny of white First Officer Will Lewis (creepy Mike Noble), who becomes Corrina’s bête noir and almost her nemesis.

People get driven to intense reactions, even to madness, on ships. They can also enjoy odd and intense companionableness — which used to be called ‘Board of Trade Friendships.’

Without giving away any spoilers in this witty and subtle thriller, it’s still possible to reveal that if you’re in the audience you’ll have two drastic shocks: what Angelo does as a way to cope with his honey-tongued loan shark in Quezon City, and what Corrina does to revenge herself upon a narcissistic wolf in sheep’s clothing.

This profound, beautiful and wry thriller by Chloë Moss involved much research including with the charity Kanlungan and seafaring women. It understands life on ship, the potential deadly effects of gas lighting and fear on people’s mental health, and the lonely toxicity of bigotry – both racist and sexist.

Towards the end Rafael tells Corrina to go and join the other officers: ‘your people.’ ‘They’re not my people,’ she protests, traumatised by the evidence of this that she has just witnessed.

Neither are we,’ Rafael tells her.

She finds she belongs to no ‘home’: not on the high-tech bridge with ‘shameless’ patriarchal white men, including the Moby Dick-loving captain (smug David Crellin); not in the scruffy mess with the Filipinos who know how to treat people humanely but imagine that being a white officer means she is positioned far from them.

Director Holly Race Roughan has created a very moving production. Hierarchical social relations are made all the more clear by a split-level set and the life’ potential to drive you star-crazy is illuminated by many atmospheric lighting effects.

Corrina, Corrina is an educational tragedy, set in a real and odd offshore world where Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’ can save a suicide and a shared rosary can be both a failed weapon and a love token.

About the author

Jo Stanley is a British writer and creative historian who works with museums, television, theatre, social media, universities, and in the community. She holds a Ph.D from Lancaster University and specialises in women who have gone to sea and grappled with the problems of gender discrimination and harassment.

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The art of conversation: 14 wonderful quotes for the times

The art of conversation: 14 wonderful quotes for the times

The art of conversation: 14 wonderful quotes for the times

Praia das Maçãs, c. 1926
José Malhoa (Portuguesse, 1855–1933)
Photo credit: Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea do Chado (via Wikimedia Commons)

A conversation can be interesting and enjoyable, or it can be insipid and tiresome. The difference lies in what people are able and willing to put into it. Conversation is an art. Those who have learned it make the interaction a gratifying experience for themselves and for others involved.

Human understanding is marvellously enlightened by daily conversation with men, for we are, otherwise, compressed and heaped up in ourselves, and have our sight limited to the length of our own noses.

— Michel de Montaigne, Essays of Michel de Montaigne, translated by Charles Cottons and edited by William Carew Hazlitt (1877)

My idea of good company, Mr. Elliot, is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.

— Jane Austen, Persuasion (1817)

A single conversation across the table with a wise man is better than ten years’ study of books.

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Hyperion (1839)

But the greatest benefit is to be derived from conversation, because it creeps by degrees into the soul. Lectures prepared before- hand and spouted in the presence of a throng have in them more noise but less intimacy.

— Seneca (c. 4 B.C.-65 A.D). Ad Lucilium epistulae morales with an English translation by Richard M. Gummere (1917)

He was one of that class of men who, apart from a scientific career in which they may well have proved brilliantly successful, have acquired an entirely different kind of culture, literary or artistic, for which their professional specialisation has no use but by which their conversation profits.

— Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way, translated from The French By C. K. Scott Moncrieff (1922)

The Conversation, 1879
Eastman Johnson (Amercian, 1824 – 1906)
Photo credit: WikiArt: Visual Art Encyclopedia

It does seem so pleasant to talk with an old acquaintance that knows what you know. I see so many of these new folks nowadays, that seem to have neither past nor future. Conversation’s got to have some root in the past, or else you’ve got to explain every remark you make, an’ it wears a person out.

— Sarah Orne Jewett, The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896)

It’s extraordinary, the amount of misunderstandings there are even between two people who discuss a thing quite often – both of them assuming different things and neither of them discovering the discrepancy.

— Agatha Christie, Towards Zero (1944)

Just so hollow and ineffectual, for the most part, is our ordinary conversation. Surface meets surface. When our life ceases to be inward and private, conversation degenerates into mere gossip. We rarely meet a man who can tell us any news which he has not read in a newspaper, or been told by his neighbor; and, for the most part, the only difference between us and our fellow is, that he has seen the newspaper, or been out to tea, and we have not.

— Henry David Thoreau, Life Without Principle (1854)

In conversation avoid the extremes of forwardness and reserve.

— Cato (234 BC – 149 BC), as quoted in Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922)

And surely one of the best rules in conversation is, never to say a thing which any of the company can reasonably wish had been left unsaid…

— Jonathan Swift, Hints Toward an Essay on Conversation (1709)

Discussion of naval officers on the military strategy against China, 1894
Mizuno Toshikata (Japanese, 1866 – 1908)
Photo credit: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

The true spirit of conversation consists more in bringing out the cleverness of others than in showing a great deal of it yourself; he who goes away pleased with himself and his own wit is also greatly pleased with you. Most men would rather please than admire you; they seek less to be instructed, and even to be amused, than to be praised and applauded; the most delicate of pleasures is to please another person.

— Jean de La Bruyère, Les Caractères (1688), “Of Society and Conversation”

What are the great faults of conversation? Want of ideas, want of words, want of manners, are the principal ones, I suppose you think. I don’t doubt it, but I will tell you what I have found spoil more good talks than anything else;- long arguments on special points between people who differ on the fundamental principles upon which these points depend. No men can have satisfactory relations with each other until they have agreed on certain ultimata [finalities] of belief not to be disturbed in ordinary conversation, and unless they have sense enough to trace the secondary questions depending upon these ultimate beliefs to their source. In short, just as a written constitution is essential to the best social order, so a code of finalities is a necessary condition of talk between two persons.

— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table (1858)

The best kind of conversation is that which may be called thinking aloud. I like very well to speak my mind on any subject (or to hear another do so) and to go into the question ac-cording to the degree of interest it naturally inspires, but not to have to get up a thesis upon very topic. There are those, on the other hand, who seem always to be practising on their audience, as if they mistook them for a DEBATiNG-SOCIETY…

— William Hazlitt, Characteristics: In the Manner of Rochefoucault’s Maxims (1837)

That silence is one of the great arts of conversation is allowed by Cicero himself, who says, there is not only an art, but even an eloquence in it.

— Hannah More, Essays on Various Subjects (1777), “Thoughts on Conversation”

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Some blunt questions for the IMO on maritime women

Some blunt questions for the IMO on maritime women

So the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has declared the 18th of May as “International Day for Women in Maritime 2022”. Well and good. Women deserve all the support they can get in a male-dominated shipping world. The question, however, arises: where is the International Labour Organization (ILO) in the celebration of this event?

Lest some forget, the ILO is the UN agency that deals with labour standards and promoting decent work for all women and men. Why has it been left out in what is supposed to be a special day for maritime women? Why is the IMO taking the lead in blowing the trumpet for them?

Perhaps the IMO bureaucrats in London cannot be faulted for having such zeal in promoting gender equality. But there are nitty-gritty questions they and the shipping industry as a whole would do well to ponder:

  Why has the post of IMO secretary general always been held by men?

  How many of the IMO’s main committees and sub-committees are headed by a woman?

  Of the IMO’s 175 member states, how many have official delegations to the body that are headed by women?

  How many national maritime administrations are currently headed by women?

  What has the IMO done to ease the training burden on seafarers, a growing number of whom are women?

Amid the hoopla, anyone who dares raise such questions would be regarded as a spoilsport. This is to be expected. The IMO is a master of slogans and buzzwords, and the shipping industry, along with the maritime press, has the bad habit of docilely mouthing them.

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Fragments of life and maritime history in old postcards

Fragments of life and maritime history in old postcards

How many still send postcards by mail? People now use email and social media to send messages from near and far. Gone are the days when one would handwrite a greeting on a postcard, lick a stamp to paste onto it, and dispatch the card by mail to a friend or loved one. Come and have a nostalgic look at the lost age of postcards:

Nothing could put a smile on one’s face like receiving a postcard with a handwritten message. There was a personal touch to the communication. It was a thoughtful act, not random. The sender had taken the time to buy the postcard, handwrite a greeting, and send the card through the post. The gesture was enough to warm the heart.

Postcard from 1910: Lumber being loaded onto ships in Hoquiam, Washington
Photo credit: Tacoma Public Library, Online Digital Collections

The card was mailed from the US state of Washington to Canada. The message reads:

Dear Grandpa,

I wish you could come and see us and see the big ships and steam boats loading with lumber.

Love from all,


Postcard from circa 1908, untitled
Photo credit: Smithsonian American Art Museum

This postcard bears the photograph of the sender with a charming ditty:

Y’ heave ho! my lads
the wind blows free,
a plesant gale is on the lea.

Old postcards serve as small windows to a bygone era. Some can be considered as cultural and historical artefacts. As such, they need to be preserved, perhaps even displayed in a museum.

Postcard from South Georgia, sent during the German Antarctic Expedition of 1911–1913. 10th December 1911
Photo credit: Grosvenor Philatelic Auctions via Wikimedia Commons

Postcard showing a picture of the expedition ship Deutschland and bearing the names of the expedition leader, Wilhelm Filchner, and several others including Erich Barkow, Wilhelm Brennecke, Wilhelm Goeldel, Fritz Heim, Ludwig Kohl and Felix König. (Wikimedia Commons annotation)

Postcard from early 1900s: Ocean liner Mauretania near Le Havre
Photo credit: Cartes postales des années 1900 et 1910

Postcards were valued as keepsakes to remember friends and loved ones by. Some were just too beautiful to throw away. Keeping postcards that depicted works of art was like having a small art gallery that one could visit any time.

Postcard (unused) from 1903: The Harbour, Wick
Photo credit: CARLI (Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois) Digital Collections

The painting featured in this postcard was signed by the artist (E.F. Andrews). It depicts a harbour scene in the town of Wick in Caithness county, Scotland.

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