Thursday, July 29, 2010

A HERITAGE OF LOST SHIPS, 5,368 DEATHS AT SEA, THATS GLOUCESTER

At one time Gloucester was the largest fishing port in the world. Men went out to sea in floating wood chips called boats. Too many never returned.
The heart ache of the most dangerous profession in the world is commemorated in two memorials along the sea wall at Gloucester.
This one recognizes the women and children left behind when a ship went down and the family was left with  no means of support. If old enough, a son would take his father's place and begin fishing to support his family. Thus, when you look at the names of those lost at sea, you see fathers and sons and brothers.
The memorial above includes a half-circle walk with cement blocks, each with a bronze plaque listing the year and names of those who lost their lives at sea, including the most recent wreck, the Andrea Gayle, in 1991, about which the movie, Perfect Storm was made.
 The Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center is part of the working waterfront. It depicts the many aspects of the fishing business and how it worked, dispersed in old buildings where some of the action actually took place. It has preserved an old marine "railroad" used to bring big vessels on shore for repairs and maintenance.
 Small buildings hold a  Boat Shop, a Divers Exhibit, a Boat Building Building, a couple of old piers and newer ones nearby where you can see their boats and nearby working  fisheries. The Providenza was being loaded with giant clam shells to be dumped at sea as we watched. One old salt told us there is no longer any market for the shells.
 The divers exhibit run by Paul Harling, a diver himself, was interesting to me as a former skin and scuba diver.
While there were the usual marine artifacts in the museum area, and wonderful videos of ship building and underwater whales and sea life,  the outdoor shallow aquariums were most fascinating from a tank that held several species of rays. I recognized the leopard ray and bat ray, but there were others. One little ray kept itself plastered to a plastic window where you could see her bottom eyes, her rib cage, and actively breathing lungs. So human like in ways, we were transfixed by them. Their eyes open on both sides of their bodies, while buried in sand and swimming, they can look above and below. 
 The eyes of this bat ray peep out of the sand. If you held a finger above the water, the rays would follow it as though you were offering them food.
New England's only marine sanctuary, an 842 square mile stretch of ocean about three miles southeast of Cape Ann contains the Stellwagen Bank, one of the first charted fishing banks in the area. It is also home to over 100 shipwrecks.
There is a big artists colony located here. Winslow Homer painted his famous pieces from this town and we visited some of the working studios of area artists before moving on to Rockport, which also has multiple galleries, boutique shops and many tourists such as ourselves.
We ate lunch at the 7th Wave and I enjoyed duck trap smoked salmon and BLT sandwich, while Jim tried their fish and chiips. Both were good. Also bought a cooked lobster to bring home for dinner.

 The signal is so slow today, I won't post much art, but the pottery above is Sigrid Olsen's work, but her real talent is in pastels that look like wallpaper, delicate and beautiful. She has a website, www.sigridolsenart.com
I lost the card for this artist, but the quality here was great. The two skateboards above the bowl intrigued me. What to do with a worn out skateboard?

1 comment:

scott davidson said...

What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee, http://EN.WahooArt.com/A55A04/w.nsf/OPRA/BRUE-8LT475.
The image can be seen at wahooart.com who can supply you with a canvas print of it.