Gail McGarva

2009 QEST Scholar - Traditional Wooden Boatbuilding

Gail is a traditional wooden boatbuilder and her specialist area is the building of replica boats or as she prefers to call them ‘daughterboats’, breathing life into a new generation of traditional craft. The lines of the boats are taken from motherboats, working craft of our coastline in danger of extinction. These traditional boats have a story to tell about their coastal communities and their shores.

Gail’s 2009 QEST Scholarship enabled the lineage of a traditional Dorset fishing boat the ‘Lerret’ to be preserved. The daughterboat was built ‘by eye’, taking the lines from one of the last surviving lerrets ‘Vera’ of 1923. Vera has now been upturned and Gail has transformed her into the ‘Story Boat’ a miniature maritime museum which travels to schools and shares the memories she holds.

I love the skeletal, sculptural forms of the craft and how people respond to the boats almost as living, breathing creatures. I love the process of building a boat, taking the wood on a journey ‘from tree to sea’.