The back cover of Simon Griffiths new book ‘Boat’ tells us that:
‘Simon Griffiths has paced docksides and jetties all over Australia to bring us a stunning salute to the character and craftsmanship of all sorts of boats and boat builders – from old whaling boats to elegant yachts, from fishing dinghies to paddle steamers, rowboats and ferries.’
And he surely has done just that, with a keen photographer’s eye. With a short text introduction to each chapter, Griffiths lets the pictures do the talking. His photography is full of light and sunshine, with great attention to small details of carved wood, gleaming brightwork and full sails. The roll call of boats and characters would seem to say that the author spent a great deal of his time wandering around Hobart – there are many names familiar to fans of the Australian Wooden Boat Festival. There are features on the St Ayles skiff Taroona, Alan Witt’s sleek Derwent Skiff, the elegant K. Aage Neilsen yacht Holger Danske and many others. There are interesting choices, too, including what the author speculates may be Australia’s only wooden-hulled police boat, Vigilant, the mighty James Craig and the curiously enduring Emmalisa. Steam gets a look in too, with Preanna and the SL Huon featuring in excellent photo essays.
When Griffiths moves into wider territory, it’s great to see a profile of Tasmanian boat builder Ned Trewartha and (OK, we’re a little biased about this) an entire chapter devoted to the Australian Wooden Boat Festival. For fans of the whole gamut of Autralia’s love affair with wooden boats, this pretty little book will be a welcome present for many a special occasion. The publisher’s decision to go with a matte finish in a book of fine colour photography means that some of the images are less striking than they might have been, if they had been printed with a gloss finish, but there’s no doubt that the range and sheer number of pleasing photographs will make it a fine addition to many a coffee table.
‘Boat’ is published by Penguin Books under its imprint Lantern. If ordering, you’ll need the ISBN 978-1-921383-40-3, but you will find the book easily in local bookshops including Fuller’s Bookshop and the Hobart Book Shop. Retail price is just under $40, which makes this solid and cheerful book good value for money.