Course teaches traditions of canal artwork

Canal artist Terence Edgar with his work
Canal artist Terence Edgar with his work

It was back in the 1970s when, as a young boy, Terence Edgar ventured out for the first time on a narrow boat as part of a school trip.

The excursion was enough for Terence to be captivated by the magic of the waterways and this interest later grew into a fascination with the artwork which adorns so many of the vessels along the canals.

So Terence, who has recently moved from Braunston in Northamptonshire to Berkshire, dusted off his paintbrushes and began to practise the traditional styles on some of the furnishings commonly found on canal boats.

Now regarded as one of the best canal artists in the country, this month Terence will be back in Northamptonshire to share his skills in two-day ‘Roses & Castles’ courses at the Stoke Bruerne Canal Museum.

Terence said: “I have always been good at drawing and I found I could do this but I thought what is the point in doing something if you don’t know what you are doing? So I started finding out about different painting and started to apply things differently. The more I worked at it, the more I fell in love with it.”

During a period spent living in America, Terence’s wife set up a website for him to showcase his art and suddenly he realised what a huge demand there was for canal paintings.

He said: “I was suddenly bombarded by emails from people in the UK wanting to buy my work. When I came back to the UK I started painting again. It surprised even me that people were so interested in traditional folk art.”

He continued: “It is beautiful but what people tend to forget is that underneath that there are these useful, traditional items, they will be items such as those used for carrying water, people don’t look at how a craftsman has made this thing. Before I get to it, it is already a thing of beauty.

“I paint things that are traditional canal items, that is what I teach. I show them the physical items used back in the day. It is our history.”

Although Terence strives to maintain a sense of history in his artwork, he is prepared to paint non-traditional subjects when asked to do so.

But, looking back at the history of canal art, he believes it is important to remember the challenges early artists faced in their work.

He said: “When you look at past painters’ artwork you can see they have kept to the same artwork, such as roses and daisies, but these were people who weren’t ‘artistic,’ they had never painted before and once this formula was made they stuck to it. Look at the equipment they had too. I’m lucky to be able to walk into my workshop and pick up a tube of paint, but then it was pigments, oils, and they mixed these things themselves.”

Terence’s courses will be held on September 8 and 9 and then on September 22 and 23. For booking and price information, log onto www.canalarts.com