RESTORATION is a series of images taken of the barque Charles W. Morgan, America’s oldest commercial vessel afloat, during her restoration from 2009-2014 in Connecticut. This collection is not intended to be a documentary. It is an aesthetic study.
While the Morgan's story about a whaler launched in 1841, her great size, her ambitious owners, her dedicated masters, and her forgotten crews are all of interest, my focus over time moved to a fascination with the details of her construction. The accumulated wisdom in her bones.
The closer I looked, the more came into my view. The shipwright's choice of woods – live oak, white oak, black locust and others – gave me a new appreciation for millennia of sailors' utilitarian aspirations and shipbuilders’ lessons learned.
Then there are the aesthetics of the woods, lines, tars, oakum and hardware that, when combined, create art. A ship undergoing restoration is a potential work of art. Its curves hint at speed or suggest sturdiness. Artful ideal or utility, rarely both simultaneously.
The closer I look, the more I see the big picture. . . of humankind’s irrepressible ambition, restless vision and persistence. . . of Nature’s bountifulness, complexity and seemingly infinite patience. . . and of the generous and resonant beauty to be found in the details around this veteran wooden vessel, in varying light and weather. That is where the art is found. These details add to our understanding. Together, they tell the story of how we learned to walk on water.